A Big Day 4 (and end of the first week)

This entry is part 6 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

My husband met the puppy for the first time Friday morning. They’ve seemed to hit it off pretty well.

black lab puppy lying in man's lap with green dragon toy IMAG0316

I had made plans to go to the Home Show with others, and I knew it would be a great big experience for the new pup. It also had the potential to be too big an experience, so I packed an entire day’s worth of kibble and an extra bully stick, more on that in a moment.

I picked up the vest and gear, and I put on my coat, and Mindy launched from my husband’s lap and ran to join me. Remember how I said I wanted most of all to condition that outings were fun? I think we’re on target.

And then we headed out to the State Fairgrounds for a socialization adventure. Continue reading

Puppy Tales

This entry is part 5 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
She got a glamour shot before going into ClickerExpo. Kinda cute!

She got a glamour shot before going into ClickerExpo. Kinda cute!

A bunch of vignettes and little announcements today….

Breed Differences

Remember, I’m coming from Dobermans, who are generally happy to play in puddles or lakes but regard falling water as acid rain. I had to work a deal with Laev, introducing her to a hose spray during bitework: “If you let me wet you down so you don’t overheat during hot, humid training sessions, we will then immediately go to get the bad guy.” It was a valuable enough reinforcer for her to stand the spray, and we transitioned it to baths at home: “If you stand still for the bath, I will frequently reinforce,” and then, “If you stand still for the bath, then I will pay big at the end.”

So this was my first time to bathe a Labrador. I started by turning on the sprayer and running warm water, then scattering a few kibbles in the spray and puddle. She ventured in, curious and only briefly hesitant, and I scattered more kibbles as I shifted the sprayer to catch more of her. She was totally off-leash for this, not trapped, so she had a clear choice. I wanted her to be still, so I sprinkled kibble occasionally as I picked up the sprayer and began to wash the puppy (no shampoo). Continue reading

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

Sad news: my sick dogs

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Cancer & the Fight
Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a ...

Cytology from a needle aspiration biopsy of a lymph node of a dog with lymphoma.

Not quite sure how to start this one, so I guess I’ll just jump in…. Laevatein has terminal cancer. Lymphoma.

She was just diagnosed, when a vet found somewhat-enlarged lymph nodes during a routine exam. “I have to mention the c-word,” she said, “but she really doesn’t present like a cancer dog.” Indeed not; Laev is 8, but she’s quite active (she spent about 4 hours Sunday night circling and jumping, trying to work out how to reach a critter in a tree) and looks sleek and shiny. We figured some sort of tick-borne disease was more likely and ordered panels to test.

But the biopsies came back as lymphoma. Two weeks later, her lymph nodes are already large enough to visibly distort her silhouette in front and rear. Monday we met with the oncologist, discussed options, got further tests (cancer has likely spread to spleen and lungs, but not liver), and started chemotherapy. Continue reading

Fear is Funny. No, really, it can be funny.

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...

Night of the Living Dead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I watched a scary movie, and while the soundtrack swelled and the people around me screamed and jumped in their seats and my heart pounded, I was thinking about behavior. There’s a good chance I need professional help. (But in the meantime, I have blog posts.)

Yes, a room full of people watching a horror film can be a great example of an important behavioral concept. Let’s talk about the third of the Four F’s. Continue reading

On Fear-Aggression and Leadership

stressed Malinois

stressed Malinois, image from FIRED UP, FRANTIC, AND FREAKED OUT

World’s shortest CIA blog post, just because I was just surprised by my own succinct summary in an email I was writing.

I don’t use “leadership” or social hierarchy to work with fear-aggression; they’re generally not related. A child may love and respect his mother, but still find the dentist chair a scary experience. We need to teach him how to view the dentist, not his mother.

Time — and dogs — can be saved by focusing on the real issue. 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