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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Adventures with Odor 4

We were back at class this week!  It was nice to be inside on such a cold blustery day!  We have been quite spoiled this winter with little snow and temperatures way above normal, so today was a bit of a shock to the system!  It was even snowing when we left.
I was a bit surprised when we arrived to learn that there was odor hidden in the lobby for us to find.  It had been there for a little over an hour waiting for us all to come in.  I have been doing mostly pairing odor with food for Treasure for the past two weeks.  If you remember, she was having trouble with getting in close to the hide when I hid odor by itself.  So I was a little nervous as to how she would do with just the odor.  Well, I didn’t need to worry.  Treasure went right to work and found the odor on a table leg in less than a minute.  Good girl!
Then we did a practice for the ORT (odor recognition test) in a back room.  There were 12 boxes laid out in two parallel lines about 10 feet apart or so.  One of them had only odor hidden in it.  These had also been sitting for longer, about an hour and a half I guess by the time we got to them.  I have always done hides that haven’t aged very long, just due to the nature of my practicing.  I would imagine that letting the odor sit longer could actually be easier for the dog to find, since a large pool of scent would settle around the hide.  But in either case, I need to start aging the hides I set for Treasure.  The ORT is done on leash and I let Treasure wander a bit as she searched for the scent.  She found the right box, no problem!
We did five total hides today at class.  We did another one that had been aged for about an hour and a half.  The box was up on a chair and had a small hole in it to allow the odor to get out.  Treasure found it but took her time pinpointing that hole where the scent came out of the box.  The issue appeared when we did the next hide, which had not aged but was in the same general location as the previous aged hide.  Treasure picked up the odor right away from the previous hide (remember it had been sitting there for awhile and built up quite a scent pool around it and under the chair).  Treasure went right to that chair and placed her nose exactly where the hole of the box had been previously.  The box was no longer there, but she knew where that scent had been and had been coming from.  Unfortunately, she did not find where the actual hide was without help.  She got close to it, but not right on it and she was getting a bit frustrated and trying to go back to the older scent, so I helped her out. 
Normally when we practice, I do 3-4 hides in a row in the same general area, but I move the hide around, so Treasure is pretty good about finding the most recent odor and sorting out the lingering older odor.  But we have not done aged hides, so she was a bit confused as to why there would be so much left-over odor in one spot when she was actually supposed to look somewhere else for the newer odor.  We’ll have to work on that. 
We ended with an easy hide paired with food, to make sure Treasure had quick and easy success after being frustrated by the last one.  I made a new tuna treat recipe this morning before class and Treasure was really enjoying them, so I think she forgives me! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dangers of Breeding Merle to Merle

Double merle dogs are often born visually and/or hearing impaired.  These impairments are not necessary.  They can be prevented simply by educating people about responsible breeding practices.  There is no need to gamble with a puppy's well-being to obtain the popular merle color pattern.  Please never breed a merle dog to another merle dog!  Innocent puppies will pay the price! 

This sweet puppy was scheduled to meet a gruesome death simply because she was born deaf and visually impaired. It was not her fault that she was born with those impairments.  They could have been prevented if only the humans did not breed two merle dogs together.  Please help to educate others about the dangers of merle to merle breedings. 

Thanks to the good hearts of her rescuers, this puppy is now safe!

Dangers of Breeding Merle to Merle
©Debbie Bauer 2012

Despite the efforts of many in educating others, there still are so many double merles showing up on the internet and in shelters needing homes. Why aren’t people listening? Why are they continuing to produce dogs with these impairments? And for every dog that ends up in a rescue or a shelter or a home, there are so many more that are being killed shortly after birth for a crime they didn’t commit. They didn’t ask to be bred this way. People made the decision to take a gamble with their lives.

This is not just a problem restricted to shelties. This just happens to be my breed of choice. There are many breeds of dogs that carry the merle gene.

This article has been updated, please click below to continue reading

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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Weekend Nosework Fun!

Treasure and I decided to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend and do our nosework practice outside.  We did one out in an open field with the odor and food in a box.  The box was more for me to be able to see where I hid it, but it also helps Treasure learn to work a little harder at finding the exact source of the odor.  The second one was tucked slightly under my front deck with some storage bins.  The last two were actually hidden on my van. 

I tried to put the actual videos into this post, but for some reason, they are not working today.  Here are some links to watch our practice today!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Leash Training Blind-Deaf Dogs

Teach Leash Walking to a Blind-Deaf Dog
©Debbie Bauer 2012

When I first adopted Treasure, she didn’t know anything about walking on a leash. She is cute and small and was easy to carry around and put where people wanted her to be. So I had to start with her from the beginning. Add to that the facts that she cannot see where she is going or where I am in relation to her and she cannot hear my encouragement.

I started by teaching her that me touching her collar was a good thing. I would touch her neck lightly and immediately feed her a treat. At first she would startle and turn to see who/what was touching her.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Furry Valentine

Three years ago I drove to pick up a new foster dog.  I drove an hour each way.  When I picked her up, I put her in the front seat next to me.  I’m not sure why, as I don’t normally let my dogs ride there.  Grace was 11 months old.  She had run wild circles when let out of the house and we had to chase her and tackle her to get a leash on her.  Yet she sat there in that seat, very still and serene looking.  She sat for the whole hour, and she stared.  She stared at my face with her brilliant sky blue eyes.  
I had to keep reminding myself that she was just a puppy because the energy emanating from her small white form was that of an old, experienced soul.  By the time we got home, she had taken over my heart and I knew she would be staying. 

Obedience class graduation day.
I don’t blog much about Grace, so I thought I would devote today’s space to her.  It is the day I picked her up and it has become the day that I celebrate her.  Grace is my tom girl – by every sense of the word!  She is mostly white, but she is very rarely white.  Next to my other white dogs, she is a yellowish color.  I remember after getting her home and giving her a bath, how I marveled at how pure white she was.  Even today, it is such a difference after her bath.  The white is almost blinding!  You see, Grace loves nature.  Ok, that’s a polite way of saying it.  She loves dirt, and mud, and puddles, and dirt, and more dirt!  She runs and rolls and wrestles with the other dogs.  She digs, she pounces.  She lives every moment outside to its fullest.  And there is no way I can keep up with keeping her clean and white.
She loves to be pet, but only on her terms.  When she wants petting she will come and ask.  If she doesn’t want it, she will turn and go away about her business.  She plays with toys on her terms too.  She will watch, amused, while I wiggle a toy near her and toss it away.  She pauses, looks from the toy to me and back again, trying to decide if she is in the mood.  But if she brings you a toy, you can be sure she wants you to throw it or play a little game of tug!
Grace likes to lick my bare toes.  Any time she can find my toes with nothing covering them, she lies down to lick them.  I wonder why some dogs do that …
Grace has a slight visual impairment that affects her depth perception and her night vision.  Grace loves (and I mean really loves!!) agility!  I already mentioned the tom boy part … she loves to run and go fast and jump around.  So the running and tunnels were great for her.  She can see the jumps and can do them if I keep them low and always jump her at the same height.  But if we are outside and the sun is in her eyes, she can’t judge them very well.  She loves to climb and the contact equipment never fazed her. 

Grace and Owen
The first time I helped her over the dog walk, she got to the middle of the top (on leash with me holding her close, mind you) and she LEAPED straight out into the air with all four of her legs spread eagle, her tail out straight behind her, and a goofy grin on her face with her tongue hanging out the side of her mouth!  I can see the moment in my mind… it is like a freeze frame.  She looked like a fluffy white flying squirrel.  In that moment of stunned response, I heard Grace hit the ground with a thud! Thankfully she was not hurt.  I tried it again, this time ready for her leap. And she showed no fear.  In the same spot, she turned and launched herself again!  But this time I was ready and caught her as her feet left the board. 
When I bought a teeter to practice with my other dog and put it up in the fenced yard, it was Grace who discovered it.  She walked up and over the plank, banging it onto the ground and walking to the bottom edge, hopping off, then immediately hopping right back on and riding it the other direction!  She did this several times in a row before becoming bored with the whole thing and going off to find some dirt to play in.  Because of Grace’s visual impairment, we limit our agility work to our back yard doing low jumps and tunnels mostly and sometimes a teeter.  I won’t let her do the contact equipment anymore.  She is too reckless and doesn’t realize she can be hurt. 
Grace is such a combination of traits all wrapped up into one dog.  She is always surprising me.  She is always my tom girl.  She always has an opinion and she knows what she wants and when she wants it.  She brings an element of surprise into our lives.  Happy Birthday Gracie girl!!

Beautiful Grace

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mud!! Glorious Mud!

Do you remember last week, when all the dogs were sparkling clean and ready for their photo shoot?

Jasmine after her bath - sparkling white!

Well ... look what the mud drug in!  With the snow and the very warm temperatures, our yard has turned into a canine mud-wrestling ring!  I think Jazzy had the most fun of all!

Jasmine after mud wrestling!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Adventures with Odor 3

I ran into some difficulty this past week with getting Treasure to find odor only.  She definitely knows the odor and will go straight to it, but will stop maybe a foot from it and then decide to go look somewhere else. She will do this many times.  If I drop some food next to the odor, she dives right in, but if the food is not there with the odor when she finds it, she leaves.  I've been trying to get to her quickly and pet as the reward for finding the odor and then feeding her actually at the site, hoping she will learn to go in closer on her own. 

I love video taping my classes and training sessions.  Because I'm able to go back and watch things frame by frame, I realize how much I'm missing in real time!  There are many, many frames in each second of video.  I am beginning to see the patterns in Treasure's searching that are too quick for me to see during real time when I am watching the whole picture.  I can see and begin to predict the littlest movements that indicate that she has noticed the odor.  I notice each time she licks her nose to help keep it moist so more scent sticks to it (and to wipe away the older scent so she can gather new information).  I can see that she begins to spin as she gets to a certain point inside the scent cones and am beginning to be able to predict that as well.  The patterns are emerging and it is fascinating!  

I can see when my timing is right on and when I am really slow on the uptake getting to her to reward.  Even if it seems in real time that I am getting in there quickly to reward, there is some video to prove otherwise!  This may be part of the reason I was having trouble this past week.  My goal this week is to anticipate her getting to the scent so I can be there and ready to reward earlier.  Better to reward what I think is too early than to reward too late. 

We also used a taped box with a hole cut in the top.  This allows Treasure to find the odor and try to get the food out, but she can't really reach the food without my help.  I am rewarding inside the box as much as possible to teach her to really get her nose in close to the odor.  Hopefully this will help too.  Thanks Lynne for taping!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Teaching Dogs Bite Inhibition

There is a myth that deaf dogs are dangerous because they will bite when they are startled or woken up suddenly.  Because of this myth, many deaf dogs are euthanized instead of finding forever homes.  With education, many people are seeing that this myth is not true, but we have much more educating to do!

Don't worry, they are just playing their favorite game! 
And demonstrating good bite inhibition! 

©Debbie Bauer 2012

All dogs have teeth. All dogs have the ability to bite. Many dogs will never bite someone during their lifetimes. Other dogs may bite only when they are scared or in pain. Dogs that have been taught to be gentle with their mouths will cause less damage if they should ever bite. Many people think that deaf dogs are more likely to bite than other dogs. This is not true. Again, all dogs have the ability to bite, deaf or not. It is important that we teach dogs to use their mouths gently and to be respectful of human skin.

Teaching your deaf or blind-deaf dog to control the strength of its mouth is very important. This is a critical skill for any dog to learn, but sometimes dogs that can’t hear have trouble learning it.

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Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday!

Well, we don't watch the big game at my house, but it was a busy weekend to be a puppy!  All 7 of 8 dogs got baths last night!  That also meant a lot of brushing out!  Jazzy had her bath a couple weeks ago right before her spay, so she got to supervise everyone else's baths.  Brinks couldn't wait for his turn and tried to get into the tub with each dog that was bathed before him. When it was his turn, he was so happy!  Silly boy!

Today was the Valentine's Day photo shoot.  Jasmine learned the stay signal and did very well.  I got some cute pictures to boot!  Grace is the whitest I've seen her in a LONG time.  In fact, she is so white it's almost startling when I look at her!  I wonder how long it will last. 

Very white Grace
Jazzy is almost six months old now.  She knows hand signals for sit, down, stay, come, give your paw, and spin in both directions.  She is learning to weave between my legs.  She's learning the signal for quiet.  We're working on leave it.  She's just the happiest little dog!  She loves everyone and everything! 

After the photo shoot, she went with me to the 4H club meeting.  She re-acquainted herself with Taz the cat.  Taz was very friendly, rubbing up against Jazzy.  But he didn't like it when Jazzy stuck her long nose into his cat behind!  He swatted her a few times and she wisely backed away!  Jazzy got to meet the 4Hers and their dogs.  She learned about jumping through hoops, walking through ladders, and walking across tippy boards today.  She took everything in stride, although jumping into the wading pool was a bit of a challenge, since the sides were almost as tall as she is! 

Then off to the pet store to "help" me buy dog food.  I was pleased when she responded appropriately to the staff's signals to sit.  Good girl!  It helped that they had yummy treats!  While we were there, Jazzy's nose got the best of her and she wandered around at the end of her leash instead of staying close to me like she usually does.  I think she may have had trouble seeing since she bumped into a lot of stuff on her way back to find me.  Once she got to me, she just wagged her tail and smiled up at me! 

Sweet Jazzy 5 1/2 months

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Adventures with odor 2

Another fun day of K9 nosework class!  We are a combination of skill levels.  One dog is finding birch odor by itself.  Two of us are doing birch odor paired with food, and two are doing food only but are close to adding the birch odor.  We had all different hides today.

The instructor had old shoes scattered around the floor along with many other miscellaneous items.  I had never thought to use old shoes.  For a dog like Treasure who is very scent focused, it is a great way to introduce distraction odors.  She enjoys meeting and smelling new people, so I wondered what she would do.  But she was all business during her searches and wasn't distracted by them at all.  The first hide was actually hidden inside one of  the shoes. 

We did a hide hidden up on a post.  It would have worked well, except that the chicken I tried to stick onto the post fell off onto the floor.  Treasure found it on the floor instead of up on the post next to the odor.  I had to bring her back to find the rest of the food up on the post.  But I still praised her because she did find it, she just didn't find it where it had been left!  We did a hide under a flower pot and I was pleased that she found her way directly to the holes where the scent was coming out.  In fact, as I tried to tip the flower pot over for her to get the food, she kept her nose glued right to those holes on the top!  Our last hide was hidden up underneath a chair. 

Here are some pictures from our class today.  They are a bit blurry as I extracted them from video clips the instructor graciously shot for us.  Thanks Lynne!  But they let you get the idea.