A Trip to the Clinic with a Reactive Human

Did you ever wonder exactly what the heck could be going on inside your dog’s head at the vet? Maybe why your toddler is freaking out, or why your cat tries to make your insides into your outsides when it’s time for a medical exam or treatment?

We don’t have mind-reading equipment yet, but we’ve got the next best thing — a human who can explain from inside a clinic where she’s uncomfortable. Continue reading

Waylaid by a Rimadyl Overdose

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight

Normally, the Rimadyl wouldn’t even have been in the house.

A 100 mg Rimadyl pill bought in the United Sta...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I personally don’t like carprofen for my dogs, due to the potential liver damage (which, I’ve read, Dobermans may be more susceptible to than some other breeds), and we tend to use other anti-inflamnatories when necessary. But Shakespeare was given as little as 3 weeks to live, and living long enough to develop liver problems would be a win anyway, so I brought home Rimadyl to keep him as comfortable as possible.

It didn’t even occur to me to ask if it came in a non-flavored version. My dogs are , and a regular capsule would have been much safer than bringing a liver-flavored drug into a house with Laev on prednisone, giving her chronic munchies and motivating her to new heights of counter-surfing. Continue reading

Easy Medicating, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the i-Click


Caution: Old Post.

(This is an old blog post, originally dated December 4, 2005. I’m copying it from my now-defunct Puppy and a Plan blog to here, as I know some like to reference it.)

Laev had an inflammation of the third eyelid which was matting her eyes with nasty stuff, so we got some ointment on Nov. 21 for treatment. I had visions of wrestling with a ever-larger puppy to insert goo, and this was compounded by my own eyeball hangup (I’m one of those people who can listen to fingernails on a blackboard, but don’t talk about eyeball contact).

Well, heck, I’m fresh off ClickerExpo and a series of wonderful workshops with video footage of tigers volunteering to get stuck with 6″ needles. What kind of lousy trainer am I if I can’t convince my dog to handle this minimally invasive procedure? Continue reading

The Snake Kit Pays Off!

Doberman Laev (and her brain) in prey mode

Laev (and her brain) in prey mode

Longtime readers may remember that Laev is a weeeee bit predatory, and I have an annual springtime mission to keep her from killing my snakes as they come out of hibernation. I even wrote about one year’s “Snake Kit” and how I was handling her.

Well, a few minutes ago I was at the computer when I heard the telltale bark from outside. Laev had found and cornered a snake, the first of the year (our spring has been rather inhospitable thus far). I jumped from my chair, snatched the french fries left over from my Elevation Burger lunch — I knew I’d moderated myself for a reason — and ran out the front door. Continue reading

The Importance of Precise Feedback – or, “Stupid Human, You’re Doing It Wrong”

I experienced a little reminder today of why we try to practice “clean” training – clicking without extraneous movements, words or signals that distract the dog or telegraph that a treat is coming. It’s important that the clicker be the most salient signal that reinforcement is on its way; otherwise, our training becomes less precise as the dog begins listening for the rustle of the treat bag or watching for our hands to move instead of paying attention to when we click. A clicker-savvy dog can also become very frustrated or confused if they aren’t getting the feedback they need. Continue reading

On TAGteach and Skill-Building

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series CT for Shooting

Okay, I was a bit slow to adopt TAGteach when I first encountered it in the early 2000s, but I’ve caught on, and I’ve been applying it more and more in my life. Sometimes I use TAGteach principles without the actual tagger (clicker), simply because that’s what I have to work with, but even without a key tool the principles still work. A marker can be many things, not just a clicker, and even with no marker (or instructor) at all, the concepts can be turned to Focus Points instead of TAGpoints and used the same way.

I’ve used clicker-less TAGteach backstage at a major performance event and with kids on the verge of losing it. And last weekend I had a reminder of how very useful TAGteach can be for myself. Continue reading

ClickerExpo San Francisco: Day 0

It has to be Day 0, you see, because ClickerExpo doesn’t even properly start until tomorrow….

First off, KPACTPs had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at Oakland Zoo and see some amazing training. We were asked not to share photos or video — not because of anything they needed to hide, because honestly we saw fantastic work and entirely humane by the highest of animal care standards — but because they’ve had instances of images being circulated with attached incorrect information, and once out there it’s darned hard to correct. I can respect that, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that the work with the bull elephant was some of the most impressive targeting work I have seen. Continue reading

TAGteach for Firearm Safety and Shooting

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series CT for Shooting

Stock image. (My target’s at the bottom of the post.)

It took me a long, long time of deciding first to actually buy a handgun and then to choose a model. The entire year and a half was filled with behavioral self-assessment and training plans — this was one area where my professional skills have been put to good use! Continue reading