Monday, June 30, 2014

Rattie boys rockin Nose Work!

D'light and I were up and out of the house early Sunday for our weekly Nose Work session with Erica Wells - CNWI . This session we ventured out to Tolt-McDonald Park  and we had a super time.

Our past foster boy Corwin (was Balboa)  & his dad are also in our weekly session.  So lots of fun for Corwin and D'light  - they are doing pretty amazing.  Hard to believe that not that long ago these were two fearful boys, scared of most things in their environment.  Look at them now! 
Many thanks to Erica Wells for not only being a wonderful Nose Work instructor but for always setting up her students (dogs & human) for success!

D'light ready to have fun!

Corwin says "I'm ready to search"

Both boys are "on odor" meaning they search to locate odor. The target odor is hidden and its one of three natural essential oils - birch, anise or clove.
The target odor is often hidden in small tins/tubs as well as lots of other small "containers".  The container is then hidden and the dog searches and "alerts" his/her handler. 
Tubes - the odor is placed on the q-tips

It was a busy morning - 3 exterior searches and 2 vehicle searches!
Let's do this!

Corwin & his dad finishing a 4 hide exterior search!  Erica telling them "Nice work guys!".

"When is it my turn?!"

 D'light did excellent on his first two exterior searches and then it was onto vehicles and one more exterior search.

Corwin's turn and he quickly located the 3 hides on the first vehicle search.
Found the first one and on to the next one...

Working to locate the odor - Corwin may be small but this boy can search!

"Alert!" and good job Corwin

D'light watching Corwin and taking notes!

Corwin and his dad working the last exterior - 2 hides in all that road equipment!
D'light waiting for his turn - both boys watching what's going on.  D'light happy to be sitting with Corwin's dad getting those lovely back of the hand touches!
Time for D'light to search!

D'light quickly locates odor...

"Alert"! He lets me know he's found it!

On to the next hide and it's up high in the drain spout. 

On to vehicles...

"Alert" - good work D'light

On to the next hide


Next, we move to the tractor - this was a new vehicle for D'light and he did great!
He's in odor - meaning he knows the source of the odor is close

Taking in the odor, sorting out where the source of the odor is located

"I know where it is!"

"Alert!" - It's up high on the silver metal part.  He's getting his food reward for locating the hide
After we were done D'light was also done - he was asleep in his crate as we left the park. This is a lot of mental work and he and Corwin continue to impress us all! 

That was a ton of fun!!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Muzzle training for everyone!

As you can see Catty sure does love muzzle training!  Such a silly girl and she has tons of good emotional responses when it comes to the muzzle.

After a few practice sessions with Catty, it was time to let D'light work with the muzzle.  He's been milling around and watching us work.  We started with a simple touching of the muzzle.  So, when he touches any part of the muzzle he is rewarded/reinforced for that behavior.  As you can see he then makes the choice to put his muzzle in the basket.  He's such a superstar! 

You can see he pops his snout out quickly and that's perfectly fine - putting his snout in the muzzle is a lot of work for him.  D'light's training will be much slower than Catty's and that's no problem. All the risks he taking with trying out this training he gets rewarded for.

And Catty is doing more work by sitting on her mat while D'light and I work.  Back in the day, she could not even be in the same room when I was training with another dog due to her lack of impulse control.  We've worked a lot on impulse control and she's now a mat queen!  Good girl Catty.  Here's a past post on Catty learning  "Go To Mat"

As time progresses you can see D'light holding his muzzle in the basket.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to give your dog choice during training.  Because of all the choices that both my fearful dogs are given they end up trusting the training experience with me and they love training.  This is wonderful for both of them as they are learning new skills but, they are also building confidence and having fun. I'm so proud of both of them!

As you've seen with all the "muzzle" posts, we've had a lot of fun. And that's what all training should be - fun for everyone.  We will continue working on muzzle training, adding one more skill in our toolbox.  I recently read a quote that rings true for muzzle training and true for all training:

Training is not what you do the moment things go wrong, it is about preparing your dog for those moments.

Tired pups after all that fun training!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More muzzle training with Catty

We are getting into our groove and you can see Catty has a very positive emotional response to the muzzle! 
Next we are going to work on wearing the muzzle for longer periods of time.  Remember we can't expect a dog to be ok with us just slapping on a muzzle and then leaving it on for a long time.  Prep work is important and during all that prep work a positive emotional response is happening!
Notice that with the below close up video, you can see how the muzzle fits Catty.  She can open her mouth, breath without issues, eat and she could drink water as well.
You can see that I'm having a tough time with delivering the food - this is just going to take practice on my part and I would advise using soft treats.  I did try out using baby food and that worked well during this phase of our work together.
Below is a video with another training error. I think it important to point out that we do make mistakes and it's important that we learn from those mistakes - makes the human a better trainer! Here's my previous post Training the human while muzzle training
Watch the beginning, I'm pushing the muzzle towards her - I didn't realize I was doing this until I watched the video.  You can tell from her body language that something is off.  When this happens, it's usually something I'm doing.  Once I just hold the muzzle allowing her the choice to place her snout in the muzzle we are back on track,
We are doing great and someone else is curious about what is going on!
Ready for more training!


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Training the human while muzzle training

Ready to work!
Now that I had the basic tutorial from our session with Lori (Starting muzzle training) it was time to practice at home.  It always looks so easy when we are watching but, executing can be a whole difference experience.
So here's our first try - you are going to see at least one training error. Again if you are training, video taping is a huge help in adjusting how we the humans train.

So what was the error?  Me! First off I'm not comfortable, you can see that by all my moving around - this is amping Catty up.  She's excited to work and me bouncing around is making it difficult for her to focus.  
Catty is able to work on placing her snout in the muzzle but, things would have gone smoother had I prepared the environment for myself.  Often times we are the ones slowing down the training process!  The goal of the above video was to have Catty just place her snout in the muzzle - no strapping on yet, just placing and holding her snout in the muzzle.  
We practiced this in about four 5 minute series through out a number of days.  Catty is so smart and quickly figured out this part of the game.  The length of working on this part was more for me working on clearly communicating to Catty.  Again clearly communicating what we are asking of the dog is extremely important in setting everyone up for success.
So we progressed to the next step: having Catty hold her muzzle in the basket and putting the strap over the back of her head. 
One thing with Catty is that she gets really excited when training so, I have to work hard to slow down my food delivery.  I also tend to use lower value treats in the beginning as a high value treat gets her too excited and she can't focus.  By slowing down, it slows her down and allows her to focus and work on impulse control.  You can also see the difference in Catty and myself between this video and the one above.  Slowing down, being less animated and being clear in communication make a huge difference. 
She's doing great!
However, I soon make another common mistake as you will see below and it's me wanting to progress to quickly.  I want Catty to walk in the muzzle and she's not ready for that.  So, when you see this happening always go back to the step that was working and keep practicing that. Once that's solid you can give the next step another try.   We the human need to remember to slow down and always be ready to adjust our expectations. 
We would never expect someone to learn a new skill as quickly as we often think dogs should learn things. And when a dog is struggling, again we need to look at what is going on - more often than not we are not being clear in our communication and/or pushing the dog to quickly.   We really need to do more of putting ourselves in their position and seeing the world through their eyes.
So, despite my errors - Catty still wants to work.  Thank goodness she's somewhat forgiving!   Stay tuned to see more of our muzzle work and this human gets better during the training...

Here's a great article and step by step protocol for  Muzzle training.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Getting started with muzzle training

Even if you don’t think your dog is a biter, doing muzzle training is helpful for all dogs.  You could end up in a situation where a muzzle is the best choice for keeping everyone safe. So conditioning your dog to feel good in her comfortable muzzle is a wonderful way to prepare for the day when she could need it.  Here's my earlier post talking more about Why muzzle train
The muzzle is ideal for the following uses:
- Handling that is uncomfortable, e.g. when your dog is injured or has to have an uncomfortable medical procedure

- Protection, for short periods of time, from licking wounds that need to heal

- Prevention of ingesting harmful items or items that your dog is allergic to
-Prevention from the possibility of biting another dog or a person during a behavior assessment or training, if needed
Knowing I needed help getting started with Catty's muzzle training, I let Lori Stevens know the plan for our next visit. Lori was pretty excited and as you will see, she’s an excellent teacher.  For anyone that doesn’t know – Lori is a force-free practitioner and she's amazing when she works with animals.
Catty had never seen a Baskerville Ultra muzzle so she was emotionally neutral about it.  Catty has worn a mesh muzzle at the emergency vet and she is anything but emotionally neutral when she sees it--she immediately runs the other way! 
Here’s Catty and Lori working on introducing the muzzle and creating a positive emotional response to the new muzzle.  This video takes place over a 30 minute time frame.  Pretty amazing and it all has to do with how Lori introduces & starts conditioning the muzzle.  Catty trusts Lori and loves working with her so this was a fun time for all!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Why muzzle train?

One of the things we are working on with Catty is muzzle training.  Why are we doing this?  Catty needs to go to the holistic vet for a consultation about her car sickness/car anxiety.  During this vet visit we are going to talk about treatment options.  Catty can get stressed in new environments with people she doesn't know very well.  So wearing a muzzle can keep everyone safe and reduce my own anxiety about what could happen.  For everyone's sake it's better to be prepared! 

People often ask "Aren't muzzles cruel?” Muzzles themselves are not cruel, but they may cause welfare problems if they are not used correctly. If the guidelines are followed, the dog will actually enjoy being muzzled – as you will soon see. The most common errors are to only use a muzzle when something nasty is going to happen to your pet, e.g. being handled by strangers at the vet, expecting the dog to instantly accept the muzzle; or to leave the muzzle on excessively.
When animals are sick or hurt they may respond with growling or biting which may mean that in the vets or at the site of an accident it will be necessary to use a muzzle. Imaging how a dog that is already distressed is going to feel if a muzzle is forced onto her/him for the first time. I can only think what a terrifying experience it would be, not only does the dog, in his mind, have unknown people attacking him but they are also depriving her of defending herself.

How much better if she has already been introduced to a muzzle in such a way as it is actually something pleasant and to be looked forward to? Or at the very least something that is tolerated with equanimity.  Treatment can also happen quicker if a dog has been muzzle trained.

There are two common types of muzzle. The basket muzzle and the nylon muzzle. The basket muzzle allows your dog more freedom to pant and drink if properly fitted. The nylon muzzle prevents the dog from opening its mouth, but may lead to overheating if left attached too long since it restricts panting and drinking. Some nylon muzzles have a mesh over the end to provide for a looser fit and more opportunity to pant, while others have a medium size opening at the end for the nose and mouth where small tidbits can also be given. However, the dog may still provide a small nip with this latter type of muzzle.

We are working with the basket muzzle.  The Baskerville Ultra Muzzle is pretty light weight, well made and easy to work with.

So what we are working on is creating a positive emotional response to the muzzle.  It’s going to be rat–tastic so stayed tuned.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

TTouch with Catty Rattie

You may have noticed that we are currently foster free.  This was a intended break and it’s certainly not because there aren't dog in need of rescue. In fact right now the shelters are overflowing (in California where the Northwest team rescues our foster dogs) as this is dumping season from people who got a cute terrier puppy back in December and have decided they are too much work.  And then there’s the ongoing issue around the general public not spaying and neutering so too many dogs and no room for them.  It’s a bad time of year for a lot of dogs (puppies and adults) and many won’t make it out of the shelter system.

We will resume fostering after July 4th But, we needed a break to focus on Catty.  The work we are doing with her requires my full attention and with that level of attention hopefully we can get some of the issues resolved.

So, what are we working on?  All of our work (as you will soon see) revolves around reducing/eliminating Catty's fairly extreme difficulty with traveling in the car.  This isn't a new issue - she struggled in foster care and then with us the last 4 years.  We haven't addressed it all that much since Catty rarely travels and then we've adjust how she travels and we get through it.

However over the last year, we've started having her travel more going to private training lessons and weekly Nose Work classes.  We had made some really good progress in travel but then we had a serious setback after Catty had to travel to the dentist for a tooth issue.  The experience of traveling to the vet back in Febuary and then having to stay at the vet for the day so her tooth could be fixed was something Catty has not forgotten.

Catty is complicated -  I believe that she has pretty severe car anxiety and also motion sickness. A bad combo and they feed off the other one.  Within 5 minutes of moving in the car she will drool excessively, vomit and has lost bodily functions.  We've done a huge amount of adjustments in the car seeing what works and doesn't work. Desensitization and counter conditioning haven't worked well by themselves.  So,  Now we are going to address all of this by adding in wraps and visits to the holistic vet.  We have tried using prescribed medication and it doesn't work well on trips where she needs to be present and active and it doesn't reduce her anxiety.

Normally I would say "oh well, the travel is clearly too much for her".  And maybe in the end that will be the answer but, I'm not ready to go there yet since Catty clearly LOVES to go to Nose Work and her training sessions.  When she's working she's a different dog and if we can, we want to give her more of those working opportunities.  By going to training sessions and Nose Work classes we have seen a sharp drop in Catty's reactivity.  We are able to control the environment in these situations, constantly setting her up for success and changing her emotional response with new people and environments.

So, off we go on this journey hoping to find a better outcome for our sweet Catty girl.

Many of you know D'light has had huge success with TTouch and we are now starting that work with Catty.  First stop is to look at different TTouch aides.  Doing TTouches before we travel and then seeing how wraps work for Catty when we are traveling.  There are so many wonderful things about TTouch but what I love is how everything is taylored to the dog.  What works for one dog may not work for another.  So, there's a need to pay attention to what your dog is telling you and of course having a good TTouch practitioner who can guide you and your dog.

Catty and I headed over to see Lori Stevens and it was a great session.  Catty knows Lori as we've been doing private training sessions with Lori over the past year.  I found out that Catty is pretty sensitive to pressure around her mid section - good information!  We found that a quarter wrap works best for her.             

Quarter wrap
We opted to see how a head wrap would work for Catty. Keep in mind that nothing is forced and if Catty would have indicated this was too much we would have stopped.  Interestingly enough, Catty really took to the head wrap.  Lori wasn't surprised by this but, I sure was!  Wraps bring awareness to the area wrapped and can help to create a different emotional response in the dog.

Here's the video of Lori demoing for me how to wrap Catty's head. When Lori does the wrap it looks so easy - I do it and I'm clumsy and confused.  Video is a lifesaver for me as I can watch the demo over and over  - tape myself, watch that and adjust so that I can do it correctly and give clear communication to the dog I'm working with. 

How cute is she in her personalized head wrap!

Giving a high ten to Lori!

So, we will practice at home of wearing a half wrap and head wrap and then see how they help Catty when we head out in the car.  Remeber that when adding anything new to a dog you need to practice and create a positive emotional response - don't just put something on a dog and expect it to work. 
Wondering about TTouch?  Here are the components of TTouch include:
1) Bodywork - gentle, non-invasive and non-habitual pressure touch
2) Equipment and Tools - these bring awareness and change to animals
3) Movement work - this builds confidence, improves focus & encourages balance (mental, physical & emotional)

And a good link outlining What is TTouch?

And a good article diving into how

Gotcha day!

 Four years ago I was looking on petfinder and found a cute 5-6 year old  rat terrier.  We didn't want a puppy and we were looking for a harder to adopt dog since we had experience with reactive dogs. We also don't have cats or kids and we planned on only having one dog. 

We'd never heard of the breed and we actually looking at Jack Russell Terriers - thank goodness I was intrigued by this short legged girl!  After working with New Rattitude and then being approved, Catty came to live with us!

Because of this silly girl we've ventured down many roads I would have never expected.  We've had lots of learning experiences and all of us are better because of our journey together.   Here's to more learning, lots more fun times together that include more training (for me), more Nose Work all while continuing to deepen our relationship together as a team.

Pretty Rat Terrier girl!
She loves to sit on my lap (or her dad's) while we are on the computer! 
Her funny default of "sit pretty" - makes us laugh every time!
Always ready to do something...
She's wonderful with her rattie brother!
One of Catty's photos that was featured in Melissa Mcdaniel's Puppy-Mill Survivors photo book.  You can read more about this blog post Puppy-Mill Survivors book
Happy gotcha day to our sweet Catty girl - we love all of your terrier self!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Past foster dog updates - Part 3 of 3

And rounding out our update is sweet Torii.  She is now Eleanor and she's doing rat-tastic.  After a bumpy transition (we expected this) she settled in and is truly in her forever home.  Many kuddos to her mom for hanging in there with her and working with her struggles.

Kicking back with an awesome cod skin!

She goes for lots of walks which are great for her.  This was a windy Seattle day and check out her ears! She is simple adorable.

She's made herself comfortable on the back of the couch!

And yes she sure is a terrier! Here she stole a peach as her mom was unpacking the groceries. Not to worry, the pitted fruit was confiscated and cut into bite-size, Rat Terrier-friendly pieces. Silly girl!

Happy life to you sweet little gal.  Despite the deck truly being stacked against you,  your new mom took a chance on you and we could be not be more thrilled to have been the bridge to get you to her.  You and your mom are beyond amazing!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Past foster dog updates - Part 2 of 3

Sweet Royal is now Dexter and he's doing wonderful!  Dexter is loving his new dad and his home environment.  Dexter struggled while in foster care with us - he's proof that with all our best intentions, we just were not the best environment for him.  We don't take this personal and we did right by Dexter in making sure to find him an environment that works for him. 
Dexter truly needed a home with a large fenced in area where he could work off his anxiety.  He now has that with his own fully fenced acre of property to explore and patrol.
Hanging out on the deck and always ready to chase a squirrel
Dexter will likely always lean towards being a dog that startles with indoor noise but, his dad is continuing the work of counter conditioning and desensization and they too are making a lot of progress.  What's great about Dexter's new indoor home is that it's not a huge home & it's just him and his dad.  So, for the most part the noise in the home is predictable which is helping a lot.

Watching the birds and his body language looks really good for being indoors

Here's a great video of Dexter exploring and hunting in his property!
 And you can see that he sure loves his new dad as he comes a running

All that patrolling makes for a tired rattie boy.  And what a beautiful view of the Salish Sea!

Living the life!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Past foster dog updates - Part 1 of 3

I'm lucky to receive lots of updates from adopter of how our past foster dogs are doing.  It's always nice to hear that things are going well and how the dogs are adapting and blossoming in their forever homes. We are so lucky to have such amazing adopters!
A couple of months ago I received some pictures from Darby's dad.  For those of you who may not know Darby's story - she's blind, was picked up as a stray, brought to a very large shelter in California and her only way out of the shelter was rescue.  One of the NR California volunteers let me know about her and we soon became Darby's foster parents.  Darby was with us for a little over 2 months and she was a real hoot!  Darby encompasses all the wonderful traits of a terrier and her blindness did not slow her down. Darby taught us a lot as she was the first reactive dog that came into foster care with us.  There were lots of lessons around learning to manage the environment since Catty can also be dog reactive.

If you want to read more about Darby (she's why I started this blog) go back to the beginning of this blog and you'll quickly see why she's such a special gal.
Darby while in foster care with us - 2012
Back in 2012 we went out to see Darby and here's the great blog post A day with Darby and her family
As I said above Darby was reactive to other dogs when she was in foster care with.  Look at her now with her two brothers. Darby is on the floor next to her big brother! The work her dad has done with her over the years is truly amazing.

 I can never thank her dad enough for not only giving Darby an amazing life but, for helping her to work through her worry and helping her to be the girl she always wanted to be.  Darby is living proof that patience, time and teamwork can help a dog to work through a lot of their fear.  Way to go Darby!
Look at Darby with her cat sibling!  Who knew?!

We've also heard that little Soos is doing great! Soos was with us from early December 2013 through late January 2014.  His new name is Zero - named after  Zero in the Nightmare Before Christmas  Zero is doing really well and he loves his parents and rattie older brother!

Cute rattie boy!

Zero and his brother Zeke resting with mom!

And Tremolo is now Cooper and he's doing rat-tastic!   He loves to play and he's learned how to sit, lay down and rollover.  Cooper loves everyone in his family and his mom says he's the best snuggler ever!

Here' a Cooper and his family while on a hike.  What a life for a sweet and busy rattie boy!

I laughed as I'm sure Cooper is ready to get after the wildlife - such a terrier!