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Service & Therapy Dogs > SD for Alzheimer's Disease

Got Sheep?
Barked: Mon May 14, '12 10:06pm PST 
I would like to get in touch with anyone who has trained or uses (or assists someone who uses) a SD to mitigate symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease.
Please reply to me, privately, if possible.
» There has since been 0 posts. Last posting by , May 14 10:06 pm

Choosing the Right Dog > What so you all think of this breeder?

Got Sheep?
Barked: Mon Apr 13, '09 11:10am PST 
I have not had a lot of time to come to Dogster, lately.

But, I can respond to your concerns, and perhaps provide a bit of education in so doing.

Regarding herding titles and breeding dogs:
First, I would say that a good breeder, who is not "kennel blind", should be able to better assess her own dogs than judges at herding trials, can. Trials are very rigid events that are designed, in part, to keep things fair between competitors more than they are designed to test the true working ability of a herding dog. Second, I would say that anyone who uses herding titles as a means of assessing the “breed-ability” of a herding dog is going to miss the boat a whole lot of the time. I have known Herding Champions that are not worthy of breeding – and I have seen dogs fail to earn a qualifying score that impressed me as high quality working dogs. So, while I am certainly not opposed to participating in title giving trials, I know that a title is just a piece of paper that says a dog accomplished the tasks, per the rule book on a give day. Also, by the way, the USBCHA does not have a “title” program, so competing in that organization and perhaps even winning Open trials won’t “show up” as letters behind a dog’s name.

I can and do assess my dog’s herding ability before breeding. I do not always have the time to take them to trials (I have a 24/7 job – since we always have client dogs at our place and so we cannot travel over night or far away). I can find out a whole lot more about my dogs when working them in “real” situations here on my ranch than I can discover in a “contrived” trial. And, since I am going to be the one to stand behind the breeding (not the judges at the herding trials), I think my opinion counts a bit more, anyway.

Most of the people who purchase puppies from me are interested in working their dogs in a performance event, but not all of them are going to do herding. While I dual-register my litters (ABCA and AKC), it is the AKC papers that folks use to enter performance events like Agility and Obedience / Rally trials. I register my litters with the AKC as a courtesy to my puppy buyers so that they do not have to use the “Individual Registry” process, one which costs more money and takes more time. It also allows me more control over the puppy - since I can take advantage of AKC’s “Limited Registration” – meaning that the owners cannot breed their dogs using the AKC registration and they cannot show in conformation. I am not opposed to conformation showing. I am just opposed to using a conformation standard as the SOLE guideline for choosing breeding stock. I think a Border Collie should be assessed in herding prior to breeding – and I don’t mean a Herding Instinct Certificate. Since most of the folks who purchase a puppy from me are not going to do herding, the AKC Limited Registration is my best way to enforce my contract.

I do not own any Border Collies that are not registered with the ABCA – which is the working registry. I have refused, probably a dozen times, requests to use my males as studs for bitches that have AKC only registration papers and have pedigrees going back to mostly New Zealand / Australian “conformation show” dogs. So, while you have learned about steering clear from AKC registered Border Collies, I think it might be prudent for you to look beyond the registry and look at the actual pedigree. There are other reputable Border Collie breeders that register their working-lines with AKC, too, usually for the same reason that I do (in order to allow their puppies to have access to the AKC performance events, including their herding trial program). Getting an AKC registration number on a puppy doesn’t dilute the genetic potential of the dog!


Boon’s mom
» There has since been 1 post. Last posting by , May 25 8:36 am

Service & Therapy Dogs > Pup Bolts From Big Red Dog


Barked: Mon Nov 24, '08 12:07pm PST 
I’m not certain why an assumption has been made that I only train dogs in one way. But, that is what it seems to me is being said.
I’m on my way out the door for a few days, but I feel the need to take the time to provide some added information.

First, just because I use a prong collar does not mean that I jerk and yank. The ONE reference that I made to its use (with Truman outside the store), I held the lead firm and the collar delivered a correction based on the dog’s actions. I didn’t even move my arm or wrist. So, again, I would ask that words (methods) not be put into my mouth.

Anyway, because I am very pressed for time, and since folks are judging me based on videos they saw at my website (which are there for a specific purpose), here are some other videos – which, I’m sort of afraid to list here, since, I assume I did SOMETHING wrong in each one of them that can be criticized. But, perhaps, they can provide some evidence that I am, after all, a decent person.

Truman – the first day introduced to the “Touch” command:

Sage playing (look, I actually play with my dogs and they like me):

Training Dogs / Rescue Dogs (both Client Board/Train and our Rescue dogs playing:

Nah-Nah’s rescue video (she has been placed in a great home) – also (very importantly) features Angel the “needs to be euthanized” Cattle dog that is also seen in the infamous nail trim video (oh, yeah, the All R+ Trainer the owner first took her to said she must be killed due to extreme aggression towards people and other animals) and serious resource guarding. Check her out in this video and you be the judge:

Sage Herding – my “heart” dog working sheep: 

Love Happy Joy Joy (just because….)

Sophie Weimaraner (now placed) who Weim Rescue was going to have to euthanize (after having her for a YEAR) due to dog aggression – so she came to us for rehab.

Eddie BC Rescue dog (placed) – this dog was a total mess, psychologically, when he arrived. I guess we treated him OK

Client Board/Train dogs out playing.

Lamb Agility – No, I did not use a prong collar on the lamb!

And, just because………… in reference to the upcoming holiday season: Merry Christmas

Truman's mom
» There has since been 10 posts. Last posting by , Nov 25 3:58 pm

Service & Therapy Dogs > Pup Bolts From Big Red Dog


Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 9:52pm PST 
It’s curious that , upon reading what I wrote, Kaylee thinks that the big red dog was so restrained that my dog should not have had any issue with it while Jethro suggested that the dog was capable of an actual attack. This medium is so interesting to me. We all tend to read with our own filters on, don’t we? Me too. I’m not suggesting that I don’t read with my own set of filters. But, I always find it interesting, nonetheless.

Then, of course, there’s Scooter’s attempt to suggest (well, that’s how I interpreted it) that I’m not welcome here because I do not agree with the group-think. Isn’t that the exact reason that I should be welcome in a discussion forum? How boring it might be if everyone already knew everyone else’s thoughts and agreed with their actions. And, there’s also the blatant attempt to put words (or methods) into my mouth that I found quite disturbing. Did I ever suggest I had to alpha roll my dog to get his attention?

Although I actually really like Cesar Millar as a person (I think he’s a real genuine guy), I take offense to the assumption that I’m a CM wanna be… Truth be told, I was training dogs (using my own methods) for over 9 years before he even crossed the rio grande. I never saw his TV show for the first two or three seasons because I did not have cable or satellite TV. Perhaps Scooter just wanted to cut me down for some reason, I guess, by suggesting that I was attempting to mimic Cesar.

So, then I wonder why someone would want to cut me down. I guess it’s because he doesn’t like that I use different methods than he uses (albeit the method that I used employed the use of a tool that he claimed to use himself). It seems he is, perhaps, simply being less than kind to me. Don’t worry. I can handle that. Who am I to ask someone to be “Kind” to humans.... oh, I guess because it is a great premise of the “preferred” methodology to be kind to the dogs one trains. Again, it’s just a curious situation for me.

As far as my dog’s behavior – I never said I won’t allow a dog to back up a bit, but, to me, a “bolt” is unacceptable. One day the dog may be attached to a disabled person. So, for me, bolting cannot be an option. Truman learned that lesson, and he handled it just fine. He did not cower or melt or otherwise fall apart. He had to learn that bolting is NOT acceptable – it is a potentially life threatening behavior. If he did not recover quickly from the experience, then I would need to re-evaluate . However, I think I did mention that he acted really nice and mellow and calm after the incident for the duration of the time in the store. So, I guess maybe that was missed by some of you.

And finally, I guess I should ask before I tell…. Jethro, how many Border Collies have you trained before?

I have owned, trained (obedience and herding), trialed and shown over 20 of my own, personal Border Collies. I have rescued/rehabbed and re-homed about another 20. I have had as client dogs another 50+ or so over the years, and that does not count the 50+ Border Collies that I have had a Herding lesson students. Oh, yeah, I am a herding judge for AHBA and I have judged Border Collies in herding events doing the work for which they were bred. Truman (who I bred), in fact, is the son of a USBCHA National Champion (they only crown one Champion per year). His mother is the grand-daughter of my first Border Collie a multiple HIT dog (yes, I was able to earn H.I.T. across 3 herding venues with the first Border Collie I ever trained). So, I pretty much have a decent understanding of the breed – how it thinks, why it behaves the way that it does. I have experienced many different temperaments across the breed (I think there’s a fairly strong gender difference when it comes to certain work and attitudes). I own Truman’s sister and I would never consider her a candidate for a SD – she’s too keen and intense. I wouldn’t ever have considered Truman’s mother as a SD. But, I could certainly see his uncle and his maternal grandfather having been good candidates. They are not all alike, and they must be handled as individuals. That is my experience.

And finally, I find it insulting to suggest that because I correct my dogs for behaviors that I need to explain are unacceptable, they somehow don’t love me or want to work for me as much as your dogs do. Give me a break.
» There has since been 21 posts. Last posting by , Nov 25 3:58 pm

Service & Therapy Dogs > Funding a SD from a non-profit


Got Sheep?
Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 2:45pm PST 
Charitable organizations in your community may help.
Consider these
• Lions.
• Elks.
• Chamber of Commerce.
• diagnosis-related associations.
• alumni associations.

I even saw our area Wal-Mart gives donations to different organizations and individuals - it was posted on the Bulletin Board at the front of the store.

I once gave a talk to a Rotary Club - and I got the idea that they were very interested in using their funds to offer assistance to deserving folks in the community.

Sometimes church groups will also participate in a fund raising event for members of the community.

Good luck.
» There has since been 0 posts. Last posting by , Nov 20 2:45 pm

Service & Therapy Dogs > Pup Bolts From Big Red Dog

Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 1:54pm PST 
Truman is an 8 month old Border Collie puppy who I am training as a SD (and to use as a Demo dog during Owner Trained SD classes). Up to this point in time, as far as public access training goes, he has been to the farm store three times, and a Wal-Mart once. Very limited exposure.

Two nights ago, I took Truman to a Petco for the first time (which requires a 1 hour trip – since I live in a very rural area). I was walking across the parking lot with my little dog who was remaining very calm and relaxed and on a completely loose lead in heel position, wearing his new SDiT cape. A lady with a little hairy mixed breed was walking towards us; the dog’s lead fully taught as it dragged her back and forth towards her car in a serpentine pattern. Then a man with a large Lab Mix on a "pulling harness" proceeded to "escort" his owner back to their vehicle at a record pace, as if winning the race was what counted most. Then there was another woman with a toy dog which spun around in three circles and barked as we walked by.

As we neared the store, I noticed a woman who was coming our way. She was still behind the second sliding glass door inside the lobby, but I could see that she has NO control over her dog (which appeared to be about 90 pounds of deep red, pitbull-ish mix, beefy canine). He triggered the first glass dog to slide open and was at the end of the six foot lead plus the length of her arm when he triggered the second (outer most) door. At that time we were within 12 feet of the exterior door. The woman was looking over her shoulder (as if something caught her eye back near the check-out lanes). When he saw us, the dog charged, barking and lifting his front legs off the ground a few times. It startled the woman, whose head flew around while her body was tossed forward under the power of her big dog.
Truman bolted backwards, but since I am using a small prong collar on him for just that sort of behavior, he didn't bolt any farther than about two feet behind me and stood frozen. I stopped, released the tension from Truman's collar, and held my ground. I remember thinking, "How many stupid people are there in the world?" The woman exclaimed, "Oh, I wasn't ready for You!" At that point, I thought, "I don't know how many there are, but this woman is one of them". Then, before she could utter the apology that she never thought to communicate, her dog lunged at us again, and she dragged the beast away with all her might, while he remained at the end of the 6 feet of lead pulling towards us.

The incident didn’t really phase me, as I deal with crazy dog owners for a living – all of whom I teach the importance of keeping the dog within inches, rather than feet of their bodies (some of whom do not ever comply with my expectations, no matter how I explain the value of such behavior). I simply told Truman to walk-on with me and didn't act like it was anything abnormal. Once we were in the store, Truman was looking with fairly wide-open eyes. I got the sense that he was wondering why there are so many unbalanced dogs in the world, and if he might encounter more of them at this place. Well, there was a "training class" beginning (in that little tiny space for the class in the middle of the store), so we were able to see a few more crazy people with their dogs moving through the store as they hurried to make it to the class on time. But, Truman never flinched after that first encounter right outside the store. He is such a good boy.

He looked at the parakeets in the glass fronted cage that was directly at his eye level with mild curiosity. He took in the scent of all those bones, hooves, ears and rawhides without being tempted to touch. He looked a bit like a “properly trained Butler” who enters a bakery early in the morning where the aroma of freshly made donuts wafts all about, but knows better than to display any extreme recognition of the intoxicating scent in front of his Aristocratic employer. Truman took it all in without falling prey to his deepest desires. His body language was relaxed and he had a smile upon his face. I think he felt a bit proud of himself and his self-restraint in contrast to the other dogs in the store.

The reason that I share this story is to highlight how one, perfectly timed correction for “fear based” behavior can teach a dog that the behavior won’t be acceptable. The point isn’t to correct “fear” itself, but to correct anti-social behavior of balking or bolting from the “leader”. The other point is to suggest how important the handler’s attitude is regarding the dog’s potential response to a fearful experience. I believe that had I been caught off guard (say I didn’t see that person and the red dog coming), I would not have been able to maintain as calm and composed an attitude. I know people who, after having such an encounter with a big, beefy dog like that would use that incident as an excuse for repeated anti-social behavior for YEARS…. They’re the folks who tell me, “Simon has been afraid of dogs ever since he was 8 months old and a German Shepherd ran at him at the dog park”. Then, I find out that Simon is 8 YEARS old, now, and the owner is still using that one situation to explain or excuse unacceptable behavior.

I suspect that Truman will present with the same balking / bolting behavior at some point in the future for a different reason. If we move through the “normal” world, we are bound to encounter these sorts of things. But, with time, he will recognize that so long as he is with me, I will assume the role of addressing the threats in the environment, so he doesn’t have to trouble himself with such tasks.

I did not have to worry myself with a “redirecting protocol” and try to exchange his undesirable behavior with something else and grab for treats. The collar corrected him with the perfect timing and the appropriate level of intensity for the infraction, and my job was to release the tension, keep calm, move forward. Problem solved. Happy Dog. This is just an example of one way to address this type of training issue, I know that there are many training options. But, I thought I would share my experience.

Truman’s mom
» There has since been 27 posts. Last posting by , Nov 25 3:58 pm

Behavior & Training > Fearful dog advice?


Got Sheep?
Barked: Thu Nov 20, '08 11:59am PST 
I agree with Asher that you cannot reinforce fear.

However, I think it is really important to know that you can reinforce behaviors that are a result of an animal that is in a fear state.

Because I acknowledge that, I don’t think it is possible to “correct” fear. So, there’s no need to even warn someone to avoid that.

However, it is possible to correct (and therefore resolve) behaviors that are a result of an animal being in a fearful state of mind.

Think of it this way; We are all in a troop together in the military. We are on a mission in a jungle. We know that there is an enemy out there that may want to kill us. You may be afraid of spiders. Your commanding officer won’t tell you that you can’t be afraid (of spider, snakes or anything else). However, if you act a certain way when a spider falls on you (as in, you shout and thrash about, screaming, “Get it OFF ME!”), you will be reprimanded for your anti-social behavior. Why? Because your behavior could get us all killed. You may still be afraid of spiders, you just aren’t allow to BEHAVE unacceptably due to that fear.

When a pack of wolves goes out on a hunt, they know there are dangers. They could run into a mama Grizzly bear with her cubs that will try to kill them. They should have a good sense of fear for the Grizzly. It keeps them safe. However, if, while on the hunt, one of the wolves in the packs “Goes Crazy” or “acts inappropriately” when it smells a Grizzly bear, the other pack members will “correct” the individual for acting unacceptably on a hunt or in the presence of a threat. Why? Because its behavior could get them all killed, and it may possibly spoil their hunt, as well.

A horse person once told me that, when considering purchasing a new horse, she always asks, “Does he spook in place?” There is an acknowledgement that a horse may “spook” over any number of things, including the shadow of a flapping flag, a garbage can that wasn’t there yesterday, an unfamiliar noise. So, the horse can spook, but it must do so “in place”. It cannot take the rider to her death as it races back to the barn and decapitates the rider under the barn door. Teaching a horse to “spook in place” is like teaching a fearful dog to remain calm and composed under the umbrella of her handler’s authority. It acknowledges fear, it doesn’t assume fear can be altered, but it does recognize that behavior can be changed through conditioning.

I believe that a correction for an anti-social behavior such as bolting, balking, rearing up, snapping, biting or otherwise manifesting a physical reaction to a fear can be used to teach the dog that the behavior will not be tolerated. It is ONE way to deal with a fearful dog and it is effective, if performed properly. In my experience, it does NOT leave the dog more fearful, contrary to what some people think. In my experience, it can actually get a dog over fears very quickly and the resulting attitude of the dog is one of composure, confidence and, yes, even happiness.

» There has since been 6 posts. Last posting by , Nov 24 7:58 pm

Dogster Video > Daddy Dog Plays With His Puppies


Barked: Wed Nov 19, '08 7:38pm PST ies

This is Sage playing with his puppies - he has such a great temperament and tolerates their antics.

PS... can anyone tell me how to create an "active link" in a post like this, since it is a dogster video, I thought it might do it automatically.
» There has since been 0 posts. Last posting by , Nov 19 7:38 pm

Behavior & Training > Convincing students to use effective reinforcing rewards


Got Sheep?
Barked: Wed Nov 19, '08 1:37pm PST 
There will always be a subset of students (whether in high school, college or a community course on pottery making) that are not wholly committed and come late (if at all) and/or do not follow the recommendations / instructions of the teacher. That represents the "base attrition" level of any class.

If you believe that you are battling a percentage of attrition that is above the base level, maybe your students do not "buy into" what it is you are teaching/selling. Maybe they don't think it makes sense.

If it doesn't make sense, people are not going to do it.

There's an element of "common sense" that people need to feel about something before they will try it, especially for things like parenting their kids and training their dogs.

My experience is that some people simply think that food-based training methods do not make ANY sense, especially for naughty behaviors like jumping up, aggression or pulling on the lead.

So, the problem you are having may not be one of teaching people about “reward value" but the method you are trying to teach, at its very core. If that is the case, then you may want to figure out a way to make it "make sense" to the folks who don't find your methods reasonable. Or, you can just accept that added level of attrition from your classes above base level due to the idea that it doesn't make sense to some people.

Boon's mom
» There has since been 6 posts. Last posting by , Nov 21 8:40 am

Behavior & Training > Fearful dog advice?

Got Sheep?
Barked: Wed Nov 19, '08 11:31am PST 
I suspect that Mikey will appreciate my answer and Pood will find it distasteful. I’m not posting to get into an argument regarding methods, simply presenting my opinion which may be helpful for working with the little dog.

When dealing with a fearful dog (and I do deal with many of them), I assume the position that the root cause for a behavior is far less important than the actual behavior, itself. There are many times when I don’t know a dog’s history. But, when you think about it, other dogs don’t know a dog’s history, either when they first meet. They just assess the dog for who he is, what he is projecting at the moment when they meet. LuLu doesn’t say to (new to the house) Paco, “Hey, dude, you must have had a really bad relationship with your mother when you were young, huh?” Instead, I perceive them contemplating things like, “Hey, Dude, get a grip on yourself, that sort of behavior isn’t going to tolerated around here – you’re gonna mess up our peaceful existence if you keep acting like that”. They don’t care WHY he is acting like that (whether “that” is aggressive, fearful or excessively exuberant for the situation), they just give prompt feedback about whether the behavior will be tolerated.

We humans want to know WHY. “Why does he look like that?”, “Why is he acting that way?”, “Why, Why, Why?”
Personally, I don’t really care, “Why” a dog is acting the way he is. I ask myself, “Do I like the behavior? Yes? OK, he can keep doing it. Do I not like the behavior? NO, it’s unacceptable. OK, I will fix it”. It’s that simple.

So, with the little Pom-mix, my recommendation is to simply look at the dog’s behavior and not try to understand why she is acting as she is, and try not to acknowledge her fears. Don’t label her “fearful”, just say that she has behaviors that are not social. Any dog (big or small), if it hasn’t been trained to deal with walking on a leash could freeze and act like you are killing it when tension is created on the dog’s neck. The point is, do you want the dog to walk on a leash and do you not like that it isn’t? Then, you choose a method to move the dog away from the unacceptable behavior.

Depending upon the dog, you could simply bend down, take tension off the leash, tap your thigh, make a kissing noise, speak sweetly, and encourage the dog to move forward, if even a couple of inches, and when it is moving forward, you could praise the behavior. Or, you could put a correction collar on the dog and give it a leash pop when it pulled back and balked. There are a dozen other things (or more) to do between those options, as well. You could use food to move the dog forward, too. All the methods can work, and all can backfire on you.

The most important message is that you DO NOT acknowledge the fear. If you employ the first method I described improperly, you could reinforce the fear state of mind (since you may be sweet talking a fearful dog who has not relinquished her fears as you deliver praise). Timing, using that method, is CRITICAL in that, as you release tension from the lead and you see the pup sort of melt and relax, it is THEN that you would encourage the dog forward with praise tones. If the dog remains wholly tense, and you praise, the method could backfire on you. I think that many people fail at that point, and sweet-talk to a fearful dog, which most often, in my experience, reinforces fear.

Using a correction for the anti-social behavior of “balking” on the lead does work, too. But, again the timing has to be right. You want the dog to know that you are unhappy with the “balking” behavior and that there is a negative consequence for the anti-social behavior. To be fair, when using a correction method, it’s better to pair a warning of some sort (usually a word), just before the correction so that the dog can learn to avoid the correction by heeding the warning. Using a correction method to give feedback that balking isn’t acceptable has to be done without any aggression, anger, frustration in the handler’s tone of voice or demeanor.
It sounds, to me, as if you accomplished the task of praising the Pom pup for being less fearful since she began trotting along with you. So, you probably have better “senses” about the pup’s state of mind and the timing of giving feedback about her mental condition, than perhaps you believe you do.

My advice is against adopting a “Fearful Dog” (that doesn’t mean don’t adopt the Pom puppy). If you take her home , just don’t say “Here’s the FEARFUL dog that I adopted”. Thinking that she is a “fearful dog” may result in a state where will treat her differently than if you adopt a “Dog that has some social issues to resolve”. So, don’t judge her as “fearful” and you will be better able to help her through her problem areas. Refrain from labeling the REASON for her anti-social behavior, instead simply assess the behavior, itself. Do you like the behavior? Then, leave it alone. Do you not like the behavior? Then fix it – REGARDLESS of why the dog is acting anti-socially.

My opinion is that the act of “fixing” some anti-social behaviors will, at times, require appropriately timed corrections. They will let the dog know that you are in charge, that you won’t tolerate the behavior, and that you are proactive in your assessment of her behavior. Assuming that position, typically, sends the message to the dog that she has NOTHING to fear, since you are competent at assessing “perceived” threats in the environment, and you will assume the role of addressing them (and, you do not expect her to do so, especially, on her own). Most anti-social / fearful behaviors, in my experience, are a result of the dog thinking she is alone to address and ward off perceived threats (whether that’s a leaf blowing by, a person with a hat, or a cat walking past the window). If you let her know you will not tolerate such disrespectful behavior, she will relinquish control of assessing threats to you and she will become calm and confident under the umbrella of your leadership.

The final point is that I am not suggesting that you “correct fear”. Fear is good. If it is kept within “normal tolerances” for the scenario, it keeps us all alive. I am suggesting that, at times, correcting the anti-social behavior that is a result of extreme or unnecessary fear, will resolve the dog’s fear-driven behaviors quickly and it’s the most dog-friendly method of managing a dog that presents those behaviors.

I say, give the pup a chance!

Boon’s mom
» There has since been 10 posts. Last posting by , Nov 24 7:58 pm

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