MUR Adoptables – Fia “Leave It”

Hello again!

Last week I talked about Manitoba Underdogs’ Adoptable, Fia. In addition to her separation anxiety, Fia was also having issues of counter surfing and garbage can diving. These are common behaviors found in any dog.

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The first step in fixing this behavior was for Fia’s foster mom to take away all of the temptations. Move the garbage outside, closed off in a cupboard, or under the sink, and keep the counter and sink clear of all food, wrappers, and dirty dishes. Anytime she gets to eat garbage, or something off of the counter she is self rewarding and reinforcing the behavior.

To change this habit, we are going to use the “leave it” technique. Once your dog has mastered “leave it” with food and objects inside the house, you can start applying it on a larger scale outside with other dogs, critters, people, or even when barking at something out the window or fence. “Leave it” is also handy for health reasons, choking and disease, when you see your dog eyeing that dead bird on the side of the road, or a bone that fell out of the garbage.

Remember to set your dog up for success; work in an area where your dog will be completely focused on you. If you own other dogs, you will want to keep them in a separate room or space where they can’t distract from your training. Begin without using the term “leave it” at all, once the dog starts to automatically do the behavior you will add in the verbal cue. You never want to use the word more than once, because then the dog won’t understand it, or learn that they do not have to listen to it the first time, they know it will come again.

Teaching Your Dog “Leave It”

  1. Start with some treats. Put a treat in a closed fist, once the dog stops sniffing and trying to get the treat out, use your verbal marker, “YES” and reward FROM YOUR OTHER HAND. You will never be giving your dog the “leave it” treat. If you are using a clicker, once they stop sniffing and licking, click and treat. Remember to do this as soon as they, even for a second, back off.
  2. Once the dog is consistently leaving the treat alone, start to add the verbal cue “leave it”
  3. Once the dog understands the term “leave it”, you can up the criteria using an open hand
  4. Does your dog have that down pat? Now move onto putting food or toys on the floor, “leave it” and then releasing them with the command “OK” or “Break” or whatever you choose to use to release them.

If you are feeding your dog off of the counter while cooking dinner, or off of your plate while eating, it is making your dog to think that there are treats for him on there, therefore causing him to beg or counter surf. Giving your dog treats from your dinner is OK as long as you wait until you are done eating, and give it to them in their dish or away from the eating situation. Remember that your dog is always learning and you are always training!

Fia has found her “Furever” home but if you are interested in adopting check out the other dogs available at Manitoba Underdogs Rescue!

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Have a dog who counter surfs? What did you do change the behavior? Let me know in the comments below!

Clicker Training!

Hey there!

So, I’ve just started experimenting with the clicker. I am doing some behavior shaping with Kali and Nanu and thought I would try it out. So far they seem to be really responding to it!

Clicker training is a method used to mark a desired behavior, an alternative to a verbal marker like “YES.” Many trainers use the clicker, especially if teaching a dog agility exercises or other activities that require a quick response. It has been said that because the clicker is a quicker sound than a verbal cue, that it is more effective when training. I believe that this is true, however I also think a verbal cue is just fine when teaching the most basic commands such as sit and down.

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The first step to clicker training is to amp up the clicker! You want your dog to know that sound and know that as soon as he hears it, he gets a reward. For the first few days you will focus on getting him to know the sound and respond to it immediately.

Introduction to Clicker Exercise

  1. Start off in an area where your dog will be completely focused on you and the treats, I use a high value treat for this exercise, whatever is your dog’s favorite.
  2. You will do this 3 times in a row with a small break between each session. Get 20ish pieces of food in your hand, and within about half a second (this needs to happen fast) click and treat, between each click and treat leave about one second.
  3. Do that until the pieces of food are done, wait a minute or two and start again!
  4. Take a longer break after the 3 sessions are finished, a couple hours, and do it again!

I would do this 2-3 times per day for about 3 days or whenever you see a consistent response from your dog. Remember only to click for the exact behavior you want and right after it happens or else your dog will become confused and not totally understand what you are asking. If you miss a click, don’t try to make it up a bit late, just start again.

You can also get a few clickers, they are fairly inexpensive, and put them all over the house. Then whenever your dog offers you a good behavior you can click and treat!

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Once this step is complete, you are ready to start training behaviors with the clicker! Make sure to click as soon as your dog does the desired behavior and treat. As time goes on you can start leaving a longer break between clicking and treating and then eventually take the treats away altogether!

Remember that whenever you are doing a lot of training and treating with your dog, you need to adjust his food level, you do not want your dog gaining any extra weight! My dog’s favorite treats are hot dogs and cheese, which I like to limit in their diet. I put their regular everyday kibble in a ziploc, cut up the (low fat) cheese and hot dogs, mix it in and keep it in the fridge. That way, the flavors of the cheese and hotdogs mixes into their kibble so it is like a special treat when really it is just their everyday food.

Interested in learning more? Karen Pryor is an author and clicker expert, you can find her books on the subject in your local bookstore or online!

Have any questions? Do you use a clicker? Are you a fan or not? Let me know in the comments below!

MUR Adoptables – Fia

Hello Friends!

Today I wanted to share my first training experience with Manitoba Underdogs Rescue where I got to work with a beautiful Lab mix named Fia. Miss Fia came into rescue in May 2013 through a spay/neuter initiative which Manitoba Underdogs organized with DREAM called Beat the Heat. Manitoba Underdogs visited three First Nations Communities in Manitoba to vaccinate and deworm dogs and bring back stray dogs for vetting and adoption. As the Spay/Neuter Program Manager for DREAM, I am a huge supporter of working to fix the dog/animal overpopulation issue. So far Beat the Heat has vaccinated and dewormed over 100 dogs and fixed 15. For more information about Beat the Heat, and ways to get involved, click here.

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Fia came into care with general anxiety towards people; not uncommon for stray dogs coming from remote communities. Fia’s foster mom called me up, we discussed the problems they were having and off I went to help! One of Fia’s issues was with her foster dad. He works out of town for part of the week, not on a set schedule, and when he was in town she was very uneasy around him. Whenever he walked past her she would growl and cower away, she wouldn’t let him get anywhere near her.

When a dog has any fear issues whether it be around people, food, other dogs, or whatever, NEVER force your dog towards it. Look for the signs that your dog is uncomfortable – ears back, panting, yawning, and the whites of eyes showing are just a few of what to watch for. You never want your dog to get to his or her breaking point, which can be avoided if you know what to watch for.

Fia loves her foster mom and treats, so we used those to start making her feel more comfortable around foster dad. We started with Fia a safe distance away from FD, (where she was comfortable), and had him make very small movements, without moving towards her or making eye contact. Movements as small as just standing up, or taking a small step to the side. Every time he moved, FM gave a treat and a big “YES!” Once Fia was comfortable with these movements, FD started moving closer and doing the same sideways movement (still no eye contact), FM treating AS SOON AS he moved and using the voice marker. Remember that this process cannot be rushed and can take weeks or longer depending on the severity of the anxiety or fear. It has been about a month now and Fia is snuggling with FD any chance she gets! She is also greeting new people at the door and LOVES playing with children, she has two human foster siblings.

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Fia is available for adoption through Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. Visit their website to learn more about Fia and the other Underdogs available!

Have you experienced working with an anxious dog? Do you have any questions about your dog’s anxiety? Let me know in the comments here!

Wonder’s Story

Hi there! I am reposting my good friend Deanne’s blog on one of her fosters moms who was hit by a car while pregnant. She is currently nursing her 6 pups while on strict bed rest while her broken pelvis heals.

Positive Reinforcement Training

As you know I am working on becoming a dog trainer. To do this I am sitting in on other trainer’s classes (The Noble Hound Training and Obedience) and working with rescue dogs for Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. Becoming a well rounded trainer means observing different techniques and also reading TONS of books and articles by a variety of trainers. Through this blog I will be mentioning some of my favorites if anyone else is interested in learning more about their furry friend. There are two main methods of dog training, one that emphasizes positive reinforcement (setting up your dog for success and rewarding for the behavior you want), and one that is correction-based training (setting your dog up to make mistakes and correcting them using force such as tugging at the leash, tapping with your foot, using prong collars etc). I will be working on becoming a positive reinforcement trainer!

Positive Reinforcement Training is an ethical and humane way to train your dog. Think about it this way, every time your dog does something you want, you reward him, therefore making him want to continue that behavior because he knows he will get praise, a treat or toy for doing it. If you are punishing your dog for a behavior you don’t want, your dog is going to be afraid of you. There are scientific studies proving that correction-based training can cause more issues for your dog down the road, which as a trainer we want to prevent. Click here for a great article on positive reinforcement training and some tricks to ensure success!

http://www.braveheartdogtraining.net/EastBayDogTrainersHome.html

http://www.braveheartdogtraining.net/EastBayDogTrainersHome.html

Here are some of my favorite trainers/authors if anyone is interested! Patricia McConnell, Jane Killion, Grisha Stewart, Suzanne Clothier, Turid Rugaas, and the list goes on! I will be going into more depth on these trainers and their techniques as we go along so stay tuned!

Kali and Nanu!

I think it is a good time to introduce you to my fur family!

Our first was Kali, a 1.5 year old Husky Lab mix from Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue. I knew I wanted to get a dog as soon as we bought our house, however, my significant other was a bit hesitant (he never had any dogs before). My suggestion was to start with fostering, a GREAT way to decide if you are ready for a dog at no cost to you, so he agreed. The first Friday in September I picked up Kal. Needless to say, she was only our foster for 2 days before we adopted. She fit in with our lifestyles so perfectly, she is calm (most of the time), LOVES kids and other dogs, and loves to run and be outside.

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After adopting Kali we decided to take a break from fostering. WELL that turned out to be harder for me than expected so when Kevin went on a guys trip to Mexico I got another foster, Sam (I know, I am sneaky like that). Sam is a 6 year old Shepherd mix who loves people, but not so much other dogs. She tolerated Kali and her playful ways but didn’t necessarily enjoy it. She stayed with us for 3 months before getting adopted. After Sam left us we decided to take ANOTHER break…Harder than it sounds, a week later we got our third foster Nanu, a 2 year old Shepherd Husky mix, also from Manitoba Mutts. Between Kali and Nanu it was love at first sight, they instantly bonded. They play together, snuggle, and share a love for rabbits and squirrels. After fostering Nanu for about 6 weeks we knew we just couldn’t break them up. Nanu is very calm, loves to snuggle with her humans, and have a good play when the time is right!

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We have had Kali for almost a year now, and Nanu for about 6 months. They love going with us to the lake, riding in the boat, and watching us play softball. They are obsessed with the window and could sit there looking out for hours. Their favorite past time for the last 2 months was our mama duck and her eggs. She set up camp right outside our front window and the dogs would scare away anything that came near her nest.

Kevin has officially met his quota for dogs (mine is a bit different) and after adopting 2 out of 3 fosters, I am not allowed to foster for longer than a few days….I am working on these “rules” and will keep you posted on any further developments!

Hello!

I will start by introducing myself, my name is Dez McKay, and I am an animal enthusiast. My whole life I’ve lived with and loved dogs. We always adopted our pets from local animal shelters. Our first was a Border Collie/Husky Mix, Max. He was an amazing boy who loved to play and be outside! We also adopted Ted, the Lhasa Apso who loved to snuggle. Next came a Toy Poodle named Tiny Bubbles.His name suited his personality perfectly! My parents now own a 6lb Miniature Pinscher adopted through Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue. They have always had a soft spot for helping animals in need and I am the same way. I currently have two rescue dogs of my own from Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue, a Husky Lab mix and a Shepherd Husky mix. More info on them here!

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In 2009, I moved into my first apartment where no pets were allowed. This was a big adjustment, but I wanted to continue being around animals. I started volunteering for a local rescue group walking foster dogs. I loved being involved in the dog rescue/welfare community and am now involved with D.R.E.A.M. (Dog Rescue Education & Advocacy of Manitoba) as the Spay/Neuter Program Manager.

Through my volunteer work, I realized my true passion for animals, in particular dog training. I have started practicing under The Noble Hound Dog Training & Obedience and volunteer my time supporting foster homes with Manitoba Underdogs Rescue.

I started this blog to write about my journey becoming a trainer. Along the way, I’ll share helpful tips and exercises, and answer general training questions for all you pet owners.