Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seven is a very sweet terrier!

Seven is a fantastic little guy and he's all terrier!  He's full of personality, loves people, has a good amount of get up & go and he's physically a very sturdy guy.  Seven is a goofy, funny guy who makes us laugh with his silly antics.  And best of all, he loves the game of training.

Like many young terriers, Seven needs assistance with practicing impulse control and some skills to help focus on his person instead of the environment that can be overstimulating for him.  

So, over the coming posts you will see the new skills that Seven and I are working on to help him focus and build positive behaviors.

If you are not familiar with terriers, I will highlight some background info on the breed courtesy of Dawn Antoniak-Mitchell. This information comes from an amazing book that I am constantly recommending to anyone who has a terrier or is thinking of adopting a terrier.  

The book is: Terrier Centric by Dawn Antoniak-Mitchell

Terriers are a working breed that are intelligent, creative, energetic, courageous and tenacious. 

Terriers were bred to locate, stalk, chase, grab, shake/harass or kill vermin.  Terriers historically had to go down into dark, strange tunnels, dens or buildings alone, search out another living creature that may be even larger than the terrier himself fight with this animal and hopefully, survive and make his way back to his owner when the prey animal was killed or driven from its hiding place.  A dog who relied on human directions and input would never survive these situations. 

A dog who solved problems on his own, made decisions on his own and took control of the situation was the one more likely to survive the encounter and live to pass his genes along to future generations.  

Terriers are very different than other breeds. Terriers were not bred to be "biddable" in the same way as breeds such as the retrievers were - they were bred for tenacity and independence.

Once we accept that and learn to work with that, we can bring out the very best in our terriers and train them to do nearly anything - especially when they can earn a treat, kill a toy or earn some other reinforcer that is meaningful to them.

If your curiosity is peaked I would strongly suggest buying this book  - it's pretty amazing!  

Stay tuned to watch us work our training plan - Seven is already showing off his smarts.  Our training will no doubt be fun for both of us!

"I'm ready to have fun & learn some new skill!"


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Want to learn more about Positive/Force Free training with your dog?

Here are a number of Positive/Force Free sites that I read and follow.  You can click on the name to link to their page!

Pages on Facebook that I follow (many of the above blogs are also on Facebook).  Again you can click on the name and it will link you to the page.

4Paws University

My favorite page is 4Paws University! This page is full of amazing information and some of her post that I enjoy are: Mythbusting Monday, Tuesday Training Tip and New Word Wednesday. 

4Paws University is a free resource for dog lovers who wish to learn more about dog training and behavior using non-aversive methods.  We promote non-aversive training methods.  

Dog training has changed a lot in the last 15 years, as the science of learning and behavior have increased our knowledge of dogs.  Dog owners now know it is unnecessary to use methods that rely on punshment and are seeking out reward-based training services more than ever before.  Reward-based training uses positive reinforcement to build good behavior using smart, practical strategies to promote good behavior and change even the most serious problem behaviors.

Reward-based training automatically adapts to any dog or any behavior, eliminating the need for shock collars, prong collars, or other aversive tools and methods of the past.  Regardless of breed or behavior.

Our aims are (1) to help pet owners safely and humanely manage the behavior of their companion animals, and (2) to apply good science to the study and practice of dog bite prevention.

The website was created to help people living and working with fearful dogs find the most humane and effective ways of helping these special needs animals.

The Pet Professional Guild is the only pet industry member association that not only advocates for force-free dog training and pet care professionals but also publicly states its guiding principles and holds strong to protect their integrity.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Rattiefest 2014

New Rattitude's 4th Annual Northwest Rattiefest was a smashing success! There were well over 60 dogs and their people attending who had traveled from all up and down the West Coast to attend. The event made $1600 dollars in just 2 hours and that money is going to help a lot of homeless rat terriers!  Not only do we have great adopters but, pretty amazing New Rattitude supporters as well!

The best part of the event for us getting to see so many former foster dogs who are obviously loved and cherished by their adoptive families.  We had fun visiting with a number of adopters who had adopted some of our more challenging anxious/shy/fearful/under socialized foster dogs and the progress and dedication to continue to work with their dog was heartwarming. 

We had a great set up for Rattiefest.  A big shout out to the NR team of volunteers who donated raffle items, packaging and signage, baked items for the food table and their time.  This event takes a good amount of time to plan and execute and everyone did an amazing job.  

The information table:

The amazing raffle table:

The sales table full of great dog toys - there was also a great looking food table which I missed getting a picture of!

Here's a great Video of Rattiefest 2014 by Boushey's adopter - you get a feel for all the dogs and people in attendance.

We saw a number of our past foster dogs and they are all doing amazing!  We visited with Royal, Reynvaan, Boushey, Pixie, Ursa, Inigo, Corwin, Syncline and K. There may have been others there but with so many dogs and people it was hard to see visit with everyone.

I was lucky enough to have access the below photos of our past fosters who attended 2014 Rattiefest!

Olive - was Pixie adopted in 2012
Inigo adopted in 2013

Boushey AKA Boo - adopted in 2012
Dexter - was Royal adopted 2014

Rain (on right) - was Reynvaan adopted 2013

Corwin - was Balboa adopted 2012

Ursa adopted 2012
Maddie - was Syncline adopted in 2013. 
Maddie won a raffle prize and is very happy with her new bed and toy!

Seeing so many happy dogs gives us a lot of joy and days like Rattiefest remind us of why we foster.  So many great dogs that were in need of a bridge to a second chance at an amazing new life. We are happy to be that small bridge!

If you've ever thought about fostering - New Rattitude is an amazing organization and below are some of the highlights:

Monday, July 28, 2014

First impressions

Catty is reactive to other dogs so, we have always been very careful when we intro a new foster dog. In reality this care should be taken with all dogs - reactive or not.   After 40+ fosters we have a pretty good system down ensuring success. 
When a new foster arrives, first dog introductions happen on a walk.  Starting out, I take the new foster and my husband takes Catty and D'light. They go first and we follow - we keep a distance of 10-15 feet.  Then after a bit,  D'light gets handed off to me (as we are all walking) and we walk that way for a good while.  I do lots of leash management while we are walking - keeping space between dogs.  Because everyone is moving there's no time for scuffles and the walk reduces anxiety and nerves.  Not  much time for those things when everyone is moving in an active environment.
If a potty/ppop break needs to happen then D'light goes back to my husband.  While the potty/pooping is going on - food reinforcement is handed to the dogs so that the association of "a new dog" equals awesome food - we carry high value treats.
Whenever we have to stop for cars or lights - dogs are given high value food rewards while we are watching all dog body language and providing lots of space.  If we see anything brewing then we put more distance between the dogs and provide food reinforcement.  We are not cheap with our food reinforcement!!
At this point we are pretty far in our walk and then D'light goes back to my husband and Catty comes to me.  Catty walks ahead of the foster and we just keep moving - more leash management during this critical time.  Of course dogs will want to sniff each other and we allow for split second butt sniffs (no face to face greetings) and then it's time to move!  As the walk progresses I will have Catty and the foster walking on each side of me still moving forward. If we have to stop distance is placed between the two dogs and there is more food reinforcement.  Catty is queen of "find it" so that game is played during the stops - it's amazing the power of this game with just 1-2 high value treats at a stop.  Of course we make sure that the new foster stay a good distance from Catty while she is playing "find it".  With Catty playing her game, it gives the new foster time to take in more of who is around (us and our dogs) and the environment.
I had planned on video taping portions of the above since I've had folks asking me how we introduce Catty and our foster dogs but, I forget the battery to my camera at home!  So, we will have a post with video from our next foster once Seven is adopted.
The first set of below pictures are after a 2 mile walk - everyone is a bit tired and we have been very successful in our walk.  We are NOT looking or expecting everyone to be BFFs - below is pretty perfect as everyone has space and they are all having a nice time.
People often have extremely unreasonable expectations of dogs being immediate buddies. That's just crazy - how many people do you meet and in the first couple of minutes know you will be BFF's?!  We as humans need to do a better job of putting ourselves in the dogs (foster or resident dog) shoes and adjust expectations.

Seven says "This was awesome after a long transport!"

Checking out the activity for the Seattle Torchlight parade

Catty says "I'm ready to go!!!"

Catty says "What part of LETS GO do you not understand"
And off we went - next stop Seattle University Campus.  D'light loves this campus and it was a good stop to check out the fountain on a hot day.

No interest in a swim!
Time to follow D'light...
 D'light asks "Do you know what time is it?!"

"It's critter time!"

"I can smell you..."

"I hear you!"

D'light's critter face... mouth open nose flaring and hyper alert - yes he is a terrier!
Alas no critter catch for this day - maybe next time my sweet D'light!

We walked a total of 8 miles and everyone was tired and ready for some kick back and relax time with space management for everyone.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seven & Skipper's first day in foster care

One of the first to-dos for Seven and Skipper was bath time!
Seven did great and he was happy when it was all over.
"What are we doing?"

Not so sure of the water coming out of the faucet

A yummy treat for doing so great!

"When is this going to be over?"

Happy boy to dry off out on the deck

And then the fun begins...  Check out this bed!

"Oh cool another bed"

More beds and he found the one he liked!
Time to kick back and dry off!

Skipper was not fond of the bath...  here's his cute self after the bath.
"Thank goodness that's over!"

"We're done with that bath stuff right?!"
"That nice lady said "no more bath"
 And then that lady got kinda crazy with how she was talking to me...

You can follow Skipper on his foster mom's blog at 

Friday, July 25, 2014

We are back to fostering

Say hello to Seven and he arrived late last night!  

This little guy is a bi-color black & white, 2-3 year old Type B Rat Terrier.  He was brought into the shelter as a stray and like so many, his time was out at the shelter.  We are happy to have a foster spot for him.

How cute is he?!

Adorable boy with four white socks!

He's roughly 11 pounds

Stay tuned to learn more about Seven - he's said to be an all around great little guy.

His name comes from Seven Hills Winery

And say hi to another new foster pup Skipper!  He rode up with Seven and we are going to pup sit him through Sunday.  Then Skipper will be heading over to his foster home in Yakima.  You can follow Skipper on his foster mom's blog at 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Part 5 - Using force free training to work through the dreaded nail trim

So I've been trying to figure out how to work up to cutting Catty's back nails.  The first thing I needed to figure out was how to get her to stay standing up without any restraint from me.  I tried a couple of different way to do that and was fairly unsuccessful.  I needed to figure out how to make a game of it.

So, I pulled out our small balance disc. What I really wanted was a solid non-skid slightly elevated pad.  So, I ordered one but instead of waiting for it to arrive we started working with the disc which is great body work for Catty!

"What game are we playing today?!"
I started out with luring Catty over the disc and then rewarded her when just her back feet were on the the disc.    As you can see it's a bit messy looking at first and that's ok. I'm just working to help her figure out what I'm asking for - back feet on the disc.

She's a smart girl and figuring it out pretty quickly. 

I toss a treat away so that she will reset herself by going and getting the treat and then coming back to try the behavior.

We are now fading out the lure since she's figured out what I'm asking for.

Good job Catty!!

Once she consistently gave me her back two feet on the disc it was time to introduce touch.

And we have touch on both back feet while she's standing!

Catty is a very busy and smart rattie. I recently read an article How to Train a "Crazy" Dog! and it certainly hits home when I think about Catty and our work together. While Catty isn't over the top crazy she is a dog that needs lots of mind and body stimulation.

Once we get our new surface to work on we will transition from the disc to the square. Then we will work on her offering her back feet and then the nail clip!

All of this will be for another post down the road. You may be asking "Why??".  Well, we have a new foster arriving so time to get posting about his sweet self!

Part 4 - Using force free training to work through the dreaded nail trim

When Catty throws her sit pretty you know she's excited! 

In all the previous posts Catty was always offering her right paw.  That's just fine and it actually worked to my advantage in terms of keeping me on track. I'm not sure why she favors her right paw and it really doesn't matter - what does matter is that I move at her pace when we start working on her left paw.

So, after the right paw was all clipped, I moved onto working with her left paw.  We did the same exact thing as the right foot - targeting the pod and duration.

Then it got interesting with her giving me her paw... she's not real comfortable with this when you watch her head and ears.   She can move away at any time and she choses to stay.  But, we have work to do around touching of her left paw.

It's really important to pay attention to your dog, adjust your expectations and go back a few steps if needed. By doing this Catty and I will progress quicker and we will still have fun.

Catty and I continued on working with just left paw touches and you can see she's doing great.  I also did some touches outside of the training session - while we were on the couch and reinforce her when I'm touching her paw.

And then we started working both left and right toe touches

We were making really great progress so I thought it was a good time to introduce the clippers to her left paw.

This next step we spent a good amount of training on and as you can all this prep work has paid off. 

Ta-da we have a left nail clip!

All of our success was due to paying attention to Catty during each step and me being flexible with our progress.

Love my silly Catty girl for all she teaches me!

Here's a great article on Patterns, Dogs, and Learning


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part 3 - Using force free training to work through the dreaded nail trim

Catty says "I'm ready!!" 

"Ok, I said I'm ready please turn on the camera so we can get started!"

You can see Catty now thinks this is the best game ever!  She's a funny girl and I've had to put the pod/mat and clipper (and her muzzle) out of sight  when we are not working.  Otherwise she will demand bark at them - wanting to play the games.  While I'm thrilled she loves the games, the demand barking is not a behavior I want.

Here's more trainer errors on my part.  Not being clear in what I'm asking, not reinforcing her and not marking behavior.  If one of my dogs is struggling I can pretty much guarantee it's because of me.

The take away here is that we need to continue to work on our own training skills and be glad that dogs are so forgiving.

I've finally got it together - clear in what I'm asking,  high reinforcement and marking each behavior. Look at how beautiful we are doing and we have a nail clip!

Here we are a few days of practice and she's doing rat-tastic!  As you can see after all our practice, we can complete a nail clip in 9 seconds.  Not that this needs to be done quickly but, that 9 seconds is due to our procession and because Catty and I clearly understand the predictable steps and now we both have a good emotional response to the nail clip game.

So we do the above routine for each nail. Right now I'm just clipping 1 nail a session.  I want Catty to continue to develop a love for this new game.  We are having fun and I'm pretty sure both of us look forward to each nail trim. 

The nice thing about clipping one nail at a time is that it also gives us lots of practice with the game. And both of us get more comfortable with the game of nail trimming.  Even if a nail clip isn't needed we are now doing this routine (minus the clip) once a day so we stay practiced and Catty gets to play a game that she knows and loves.

Love this game!