OK, well, in one minute it will be Friday, but I’m going to be optimistic and title the post before midnight.
First, a tiny rant: We need to buy a second crate now that Ginny is back. She’s the size of a swizzle stick, but I still want to get an Intermediate crate (Vari-Kennel 300) because then I can switch the dogs around if I need to. Intermediates are also a little more practical as working surfaces–with a blanket over the crate they’re impromptu drink carts, changing areas, grooming tables, you name it. We were running late tonight and couldn’t get to our normal pet supply place, so I ran into PetCo.
Do you know how much they wanted? ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN DOLLARS. This is a SIXTY-DOLLAR crate, peoples! Seventy if you absolutely must, but not a penny more. They are charging almost 100% over the RETAIL price! Insane. Moral: Do not go to PetCo for anything that is available elsewhere, because it will be substantially cheaper almost anywhere else. My personal recommendations are JBPet, PetEdge, Dog.com, and any pet discounter. Just as long as they don’t sell puppies and/or kittens.
A major rave: The spring puppies are starting to come! It’s SO exciting to see the big bellies become beautiful litters and then grow up. And since Bronte’s is the beautifullest and, wow, the biggest, I can hardly breathe with the anticipation. Whee!
OK, on to comments.
A whole raft of them from Micaela:
I thought of another question for you: now that you don’t have the yard playspace for the dogs to run around in, and your living quarters are smaller, I imagine you have to make more of an effort to keep them from getting bored. Do you?
Oh, goodness, yes. This is made even harder by the fact that these are two dogs that do not easily play with each other. Ginny never plays with anybody she can’t be sure she’s in charge of. Clue invites her to play a hundred times a day, but Ginny usually glares at her and flounces off.
Just over the last couple of days we’ve seen them play twice, both for only a minute or two until Ginny realizes what she’s doing. I have real hope that this will continue and their ability to have fun together will grow, but I really have no idea.
Right now we’re focusing on TV for dogs–in other words, digging and chewing. Lots of toys, lots of games of throw and catch, lots and lots of edible chewies. Beds and blankets that encourage digging are also a hit. We’re RIGHT on the edge of letting Clue run again, and at that point every fair day we’ll be taking journeys with the two of them, but for now we’re letting the “TV” do a lot of babysitting.
Also, any tips for dealing with separation anxiety? Our dog’s much-improved, which I’m sure has to do with her confidence & sense of trust in her humans being restored –we’re sure someone hurt her before she got to the rescue group we adopted her from. But she’s still got separation issues, for example she howls piteously if my husband goes outside to wash the car even when the rest of us are home with her. I’m *very* happy tho that she’s not on any of the anti-anxiety meds that other Blueticks get put on. I don’t want my dog on Prozac! Would appreciate any input you may have to offer.
You know how there are breeds of sheep that “flock” and breeds that don’t? Some breeds enjoy company but when stressed it’s every ewe for herself. Other breeds respond to stress by looking for a sister on each side and then pressing close.
If an analogous statement could be made about dogs, hounds are definitely a “flocking” breed. It is all very natural; every breed with a function and a job has had certain wolf instincts magnified. In the same way that herding breeds have the “bring the prey to the pack” instinct or terriers have the “respond quickly to prey” instinct magnified, hounds have the “hunt in a pack over long distances and despite great hardship” instinct magnified. They have their social skills and social needs VERY emphasized, because they were designed to live and work without conflict in large and disorganized groups.
So while a herding dog will natter and complain if a family member leaves the room because they want everybody in the little boxes the dog put them in, a hound genuinely feels bereft, even endangered.
This isn’t necessarily any sign of abuse or even neglect–it’s the reaction of a dog who needs lots and lots of social contact to feel normal.
Perhaps the ideal “cure” for this is a pack–is there a good dog daycare in your area that takes big dogs and has a VERY large safe fenced area? I personally don’t recommend (at least for big dogs) the one-room indoor care–you want something where she can trail and run and get the feedback from other dogs that she needs.
I think I’d also work on meeting her need to hunt, trail, and track. These dogs need to go very long distances in a basically straight line; they are incredibly attuned to the migration/trail. If you can work her up to biking for five or six miles (you bike, she’s on a Springer beside you), rollerblade, skijoring or skatejoring, etc., she will be so tired and happy that her need for constant social input will be substantially blunted.
We’ve been feeding our Bluetick Coonhound the basic Canidae (it’s easy to find at our local feed stores which is a minor miracle given where we live), and supplementing whenever we can with fresh pork chops, beef cuts, ham or pork shoulder bones… it depends on what the family’s eating, we’re not shopping fresh just for her yet. One thing she’s made very clear is that she will not eat uncooked poultry, so I wind up partially roasting any chicken or turkey I’m going to feed her, which makes me nervous about some of the bones not being safe, etc. Another thing that’s driving me crazy is that she seems to be having the dry skin issues that we’re all struggling with because we live in the SW desert… I’ve thought about adding some olive or flaxseed oil to her kibble, but I’d like to read more on the subject. Like, does she need more FAT in her diet, or does she just need more MOISTURE in her food?
I am a great fan of table scraps, so you’ll get no flak from me on that front. The only thing I’d encourage you to do is to try to separate the raw and the kibble as much as possible. Instead of feeding a kibble meal with a couple of pieces of raw on top, store the raw in the fridge for a couple of days until you have enough for a full day, then feed her an entire day (which can mean one meal–she doesn’t need to be fed twice) and don’t feed her kibble that day.
I think it’s very common for them to be confused by raw chicken. I’ve had several like that. I think that searing the piece of meat in some hot butter and garlic is safer than baking it, because you’re just cooking the skin and the top couple of millimeters of muscle instead of cooking the bone. As she gets more used to it (especially if she can’t just go to the food bowl and eat kibble instead) you can sear less and less until she’s taking the raw piece from your hand.
Moisture in food is the same as just drinking water, so as long as she’s a good drinker she’ll be fine on that front. I think she probably does need more oil in her diet, and you can also give her hot oil baths (I used to do it all the time for the Danes).
When I supplement with oil, I make up a gross mixture of a poud of Mirra-Coat (a horse fatty acid and biotin supplement), a big jar of peanut butter, 16 oz salmon oil, about a pound of ground flax, a jar of coconut oil, a ton of olive oil, some honey, and a pound of Nature’s Logic supplement. Adjust as necessary to get it to the texture of a stiff cookie dough. Make it into teaspoon-size balls and keep it in the fridge. If you feed one or two a day you’ll notice a huge difference within a week or two. They get super shiny right along the spine and then it spreads down the sides. I’ve even had them get a little greasy along the backbone, but that’s fine with me because I’m bathing so often and after the bath the hair is SO healthy.
Would it be possible for you to address these questions in a post sometime soon? I asked on a local parenting forum if anyone raw-feeds their dogs and quite a few people replied that they’d tried and their dogs hadn’t liked it. I wonder if they just tried the wrong things, or if food pickyness is as common with dogs as it is with children…
I always take any statements about raw with a certain amount of suspicion. It’s not that I don’t believe people, just that (unfortunately) so many people do it totally wrong and then say that it failed or the dog didn’t thrive or whatever. Feeding raw correctly is not difficult, but it’s not just “feeding raw.” If they’re starting wrong, feeding the wrong things, preparing their dogs wrong, or won’t tolerate the normal transition symptoms (like loose stool), they’ll often say that the diet was at fault.
I’ve started or switched to raw probably 40-50 dogs now, with the puppies I’ve raised and the rescues and the visitors (every dog with me longer than 24 hours gets switched to raw), and I’ve had plenty of them initially refuse it or not know what to do. I’ve never had one that I’d consider a real failure. It sometimes takes a few weeks of standing on my head for the dog, but pretty soon they’re jumping in the air to catch chicken backs just like everybody else.
From Tammy (hi!):
Okay… Loki’s 27 lbs, intact. How much of Orijen do you think I should be feeding a day? He’s fairly active… and what puppy food would you suggest for our new baby Bella?
I’d start with 3/4 cup a day and be prepared to cut back or increase. I am in the habit of running my hands over every dog in the house every day, and I’ll often adjust food amounts daily. Somebody will get a tiny bit more, somebody else has to fast. You can put weight on the typical dog VERY quickly, but it’s a lot harder to take it off. So too little is better than too much, at least initially.
Since Bella is going to be over 20 lb as an adult, I wouldn’t feed her puppy food at all. I would only use a puppy formula for breeds that are prone to hypoglycemia. Anybody else is actually better off with an adult food to make sure they’re growing very slowly. Don’t use a lamb and rice or no-allergy or a reduced-fat formula; you want chicken or beef/other red meat.
In adult conventional kibbles, I like (maybe “tolerate” is a better word) Solid Gold (Wolf King or MMillennia), Canidae, the Natural Balance normal/adult food, Castor and Pollux (the Cesar Millan food is a repackaged version of C&P’s adult food, so that’s good too), Innova (I never had success with this in the Danes because it was much too rich for them, but plenty of people LOVE it).
I’d also encourage you to look at the “foolproof” raw diets for a puppy, if you don’t want to plunge into actual raw feeding. Wendy Volhard’s NDF 2 formula and Sojos Grain-Free are dry vegetable mixes (and Volhard’s has some grains) that you soak and combine with raw meat.
I followed you here from a galaxy far away…:P I have a motive in hanging around learning from you–looking fwd (in a couple of years) to being the best (pet) dog owner I can– first need to figure out what breed is best for my family and then where to get said dog from…I have two Qs for you at the moment, do you have a how to select a breed thing written up around here somewhere? I thought I saw one from you a while back but can’t turn it up now…Hmm…The other Q is what blogs/essp forums you know of about breeds types, ethical breeding, dog bahviour, general living with dog type stuff that you would recommend as being fairly or totally on the mark. Any help would be appreciated, I am trying to do this right but I admit I am a bit lost at it…Thank you in advance…
Is that… the EVIL galaxy? I still read over there, because it’s like watching a car wreck, but I am so glad to not be part of the crazy anymore.
YES, I do have a breed selection article. It’s long, so you need to download it in .doc form. It used to be on my website (which, yes, I know, is out of date, but all the website files are on burnt computers and I can’t face the task of re-creating them right now). It got left behind when I changed the website around, so this is a good reminder to get it updated and back to the land of the living. I’ll let you know when I’ve got it uploaded–should be in the next few days.
I honestly don’t know of good general dog forums. If any reader here does, please post one. Unfortunately, what generally happens to those forums is the same newbie questions get asked over and over again and so the more experienced posters leave. The only ones left are the ones who can stand the same sob story a hundred times, which is to their credit, but they get REALLY jaundiced about everything. If you come there and say “I have a Peke-a-Poo puppy who has diarrhea and…” they’ll immediately jump all over you for buying a mixed-breed dog (or buying a poorly bred purebred, or whatever) and you’ll be unlikely to get your question answered. It’s absolutely true that you SHOULD NOT have bought that dog, but if it’s got diarrhea you might like knowing how to solve that.
I’ve always found the single-breed listservs or yahoo groups to be the best source for information about that particular breed. Look for the list that has several hundred or a thousand members and you’ve probably found the primary one. My only caution is that you need to SHUT UP AND READ, including ALL of the archives, for at least a month before you ask any questions. Most of the time you’ll realize that yours was answered ten times in the last year. If you wait until you don’t look quite so green and new, you’ll be able to have a much nicer time in the conversation.
From Bonnie: What do you think of Victoria Stilwell’s It’s Me Or The Dog?
Well. That IS a question. Let me begin by saying that I am not 100% in love with any of the television trainers–I think Cesar is a freaking genius but I think he doesn’t realize how poorly most people are implementing what he does so well. His methods require exactly what he has–years of experience in watching dogs, body language, energy, communication, and pack behavior. He responds to the dog’s own language and signals much more than he responds to behavior. I think even he doesn’t realize exactly what he’s doing. If you are a typical dog owner with 99% of what the dog is doing a complete mystery to you, you can misapply his techniques and really hurt your dog.
Victoria does better at communicating techniques that are broader, shallower, more foolproof. Unfortunately, she often SUCKS at body language and she puts dogs into situations that are genuinely dangerous and then pez-dispenses cookies to distract them; the owners perceive this as success but the dog has not changed one bit. I once watched an episode where she had two dogs who were determined to kill each other in a room together, and was rewarding them “so they would associate the presence of the other dog with a reward.” I started screeching at the TV when I could clearly see that the dogs greatly and steadily desired the death of each other, and were quite cheerful about that (there is, as Terhune said, a gay cavalier inside each dog who fights), and from their point of view were getting cookies shoved down their throats in glorious recognition of their hatred. They were staring at each other with tails stiff and eyes fixed, eating cookies as fast as they could.
She is also SO COMPLETELY TOTALLY WRONG about prong collars and choke collars. Head halters are MUCH more likely to cause serious damage than the prong (which is actually the safest collar for the average owner to use) and head halters and ez-pull harnesses and so on don’t train. They just make certain movements physically impossible. The dog doesn’t say “Oh, my owner is telling me not to do that, and therefore I will not do it.” The dog instead is physically impeded. Saying those tools train is like saying that a wall trains dogs not to run away. As soon as the tool–as soon as the wall–is gone, the behavior is exactly the same. You can choose to use those tools, just like you choose to use a wall, but they should be a very temporary stop-gap with the goal of using real training signals as soon as possible.
I also think that neither of them does a good job of verbally describing exactly why they are doing what they’re doing, with fearful dogs in particular. Cesar does talk about stopping dogs from moving forward (decreasing drive) but doesn’t articulate exactly why his methods are working on fearful dogs. I know the shows are edited, so maybe they’re talking with the owners at length, but there’s a lot of “Do this” and very little “Do this because it works this way and has this result.” I think that many (most?) dog owners punish fear. I know I did. I knew you were supposed to stop the dog from, for example, growling, but I didn’t know how to distinguish the growl that means “please don’t; I’m afraid,” from the one that says “don’t, or I’ll have to punish you.” I didn’t know that you have to begin your shaping of the eventual result LONG before it gets to the point of the growl; by the time the growl comes you’ve already failed to a certain extent. If you watch Cesar, he never, ever uses an aversive or a correction on a fearful dog, but I’ve never heard him say “Never correct a fearful dog” in so many words. I think he should be saying it EVERY TIME.
If you want my advice on training, I’d say put away all the actual training books for a few months. Read Rugaas and Aloff’s books on body language and read everything you can get on dog behavior and pack techniques. Dunbar, Donaldson, Pryor are great at teaching about motivation. But if you only read them you will (I am convinced) only get part of the story. You should also read the Monks of New Skete and all the classic ones from trainers long since gone to their reward. Read Bones Would Rain From the Sky. Read Katz. Read books on border collies (not because you’d be teaching herding, but because the best herding training is all about shaping natural and joyful behaviors), and I would very highly recommend reading several books on Schutzhund. Even if you own a beagle or a maltese. Schutzhund researchers understand drive, and how handlers increase, decrease, mishandle, and screw up drive better than anyone else.
You need to read everyone because nobody has the whole story. The pure researchers who focus solely on motivation miss the boat because they are so careful to never attribute any behavior to anything but the self-interest of the animal. For a bonded dog-human pair, that’s like analyzing a marriage and ignoring anything that isn’t the result of self-interest. Dogs DO love, and they DO feel jealousy, and they DO object to inequity, and so on. The behaviorists who determine that no aversive signals can ever be given forget that dogs themselves communicate in aversives. The behaviorists who object to food rewards forget that candy tastes good, and so does liver. And if you want candy you do stuff, and dogs do the same thing.
If you read EVERYBODY, and watch your dog(s) for a long time, you’ll start to build an idea of what’s true. Then you’re ready to go back to actual trainers and throw out what you know is false and keep what you know is true. But above all else, the DOG MUST TEACH YOU. If you are doing anything without the dog “agreeing” with you–if the dog is showing confusion, anger, fear, anxiety, etc.–I don’t care how gold-certified the technique you’re using is; stop it. That’s why I think you must start with the body language books (and videos/dvds if you can get them); you have to know what your dog is communicating before you can continue with the training.
And (last one for tonight), from Pai:
A question though — when you said ‘close physical contact does not equal love’ I wonder about my dog, a Chinese Crested, who as a breed are called ‘velcro dogs’ because they always want to be near their owners or in physical contact with them. Is that then, not affection? Does that just mean the breed is actually just naturally very ‘possessive’?
I think many breeds feel this way. Sometimes it’s possession, sometimes it really is love. Depends on the dog. The huge difference between this and the “training” episode I told about is that the dog is choosing to be close to the owner. There’s no compulsion involved.
Humans are EXTREMELY high-touch, all the time. If you have an intimate and loving relationship with someone, touch and invasion of space are perceived to be a constant positive. Think about all the movie scenes where the hero or the heroine gather the other person close, despite the other person initially fighting. The eventual surrender to the embrace is a sign of acceptance of that person’s love; it’s a signal of emotional wellness and the success of the relationship.
That’s what the trainer in the episode I told you about was trying to push on a dog, with the added “value” that the dog would have to submit to the contact and therefore become a “better” dog.
But that’s not the way a dog thinks or wants or desires; forced contact is the way dogs punish each other and threaten each other. So this puppy perceived himself as being horribly threatened and repeatedly punished, and he was not allowed to apologize by getting away from the punisher.
A dog climbing in your lap or draping himself over your shoulder is very different–that’s contact that the dog chooses and enjoys.