The Dog I've Always Wanted

Canine Behavior, Training and Photography

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Entries Tagged as 'Musings'

Thought provoking quote from “The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving” by Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson

November 23rd, 2010 · 2 Comments · Musings

While reading the latest from Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson, The Dog Who Couldn’t Stop Loving, I came across something which seems quite thought provoking. Here’s the quote: “Perhaps one reason dogs respond to children with greater enthusiasm than to adults is because hierarchy and rank, absent in children, can destroy or inhibit the kind of deep love that depends on mutuality and equality. You cannot have love that is coerced, paid for. or unequal (top-down). The corollary of this is that the love between a dog and a person who insists on being the strict alpha animal is not the same as the love that develops from equality. (This is my objection to Cesar Millan.” What do you think?

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Energy Level- Finding a Canine Match

February 14th, 2010 · No Comments · Musings

An important consideration when acquiring a dog is the matter of energy levels, yours and his. One of the reasons that so many dogs end up needing to be rehomed before their first birthday is a failure to consider this factor when selecting a dog.

Think about what you like to do in your leisure time. How would a dog fit into your routine? If you are the type who enjoys long runs or a bike rides on a daily basis, by all means acquire a dog who can join you. In this case, huskies, border collies, and any of the field dogs would make a good match. If you want company on the sofa when you watch movies, (Higher energy dogs are also great at this but you have to exercise them first!), you might want to consider a Pekingese or a greyhound. Many breed books rate the energy levels and exercise requirements of the various breeds. Give this information your attention; it is an important area of compatibility for both of you and will certainly influence the nature of your relationship with your dog to a large extent. Things can get stickier with mixed breeds and there’s no doubt that you are taking a gamble. But who knows? Maybe getting that mixed breed dog who is a ball of energy might be just the catalyst you need to get your own exercise routine initiated. But do be realistic about how much time and energy you can devote to exercising your dog; it is hard to change your habits. Young dogs under two years of age in some high energy breeds need a minimum of two hours of real exercise daily. [Read more]

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Walking Dogs in Winter

January 14th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Musings

I love walking dogs. I’m spending a lot of time doing it this winter. It gives me many opportunities to make observations and discover beauty in unexpected places, in mundane objects. Winter is beautiful but it challenges us and reminds us of our frailties. The dogs I walk are mostly invigorated by the cold and a new fall of snow is exciting to most of them. Snow banks are ripe with yellow messages that must be investigated and of course responded to in kind! Chunks of ice are marvellous crunchy snacks. Some dogs like to lick fat snowflakes out of the air as they drift down. Such delight.

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How Much Training ?

December 17th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Musings

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Rio, a well-trained dog

How does one want to live with one’s dog or dogs? Is immediate compliance with “commands” or requests a high priority? And is this a realistic expectation or is it the objective of a power-hungry control freak ?

On the one hand this seems to be a personal decision but on the other hand it’s not. Depending on where one lives and who lives in proximity to us our dogs’ behaviour is likely to impact other people and their dogs.

Having control of a dog is a matter of safety. This is the bottom line. A dog who bolts through  a doorway is vulnerable to a number of hazards and can cause harm to others as well. This also applies to recall; a dog that won’t  come when called puts himself and others at risk of injury and even death.

As far as what goes on in one’s own home and backyard there is more leeway. What is one willing to allow? Dogs on the furniture or not? Counter cruising? A little chewing on the stair railings? Holes dug in the garden? I personally don’t allow any of those things except digging and that is because I am not a gardener and my dogs exhibit such joy when they dig that I allow them that minor naughtiness. My husband, however refers to the holes they dig as a “man traps”. He sometimes fills them in with dirt or even gravel but they only get dug out again. It seems that there are a few spots in the yard that, from the dogs’ point of view, must have a nice hole. They use them to store balls  and other toys and to jump in and out of  when chasing each other around the yard. I don’t have the heart to deny them such a wonderful pleasure. I remember reading somewhere that to be fulfilled a dog needs to do three things every day: run, chew and dig. I suspect for many “bark” would have to be added to the list!

We ask a great deal of our dogs in expecting them to adapt to our environment and live up to our standards. It is true that dogs have been making these adaptations for thousands of years but that doesn’t make it any less astounding. They are brilliant at it. There are people who hold  the conviction that training “breaks” dogs and doesn’t allow them to be dogs. Humans, in the long history of  living with dogs, acheter viagra pharmacie, have always seen fit to train dogs, for example to assist in hunting and herding. The dog is uniquely equipped to learn from humans and work  with us. A dog needs a job. Although it is true that there is new and different work for dogs in contemporary society the principle is the same. Jon Katz does the topic of dogs and their work justice in his book “The New Work of Dogs”. Knowing what to do and when gives a dog a  sense of security.

Way back when, in the aftermath of the sixties laid back zeitgeist, I owned a dog whom I allowed to “just be a dog”. Fortunately for me, she was a sweet-tempered Lab/GSD who did not really exploit the situation. Of course I did house train her and it wasn’t so easy in a third floor apartment with no balcony. She was well attached to me and her recall was pretty good; she got to run with her doggie pals on a daily basis and we played our own version of hand (mouth?) ball in dead-end alley ways.  She was amazingly agile and inexhaustible in her younger years. When she was six our first child was born and she was gentle and patient with him as she was with the other babies that followed. But I had never trained her to walk properly on a leash and it wasn’t until she was about 10 years old that she finally  quit pulling me around. She lived to be sixteen and aside from her famous “garbage day escapes” she was no trouble. The kids loved her. I think that she did a pretty good job of being a dog.

But I wouldn’t do things that way now. For one thing I have three dogs these days. A multi dog household is quite a different matter. I enjoy being pack leader and my dogs seem to be quite happy to be “educated dogs” with nice manners. Times change. In my youth I had such contempt for anything or anyone that smelled vaguely of authority that taking on the mantle of leadership myself was a repugnant notion. Being a parent helped me learn that there is such a thing as benevolent leadership. And besides I’ve grown up somewhat since then.

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Rehearsed Aggression and Other Thoughts on Training

November 24th, 2009 · 1 Comment · Musings

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It is a fact that the purists among the positive reinforcement trainers make the claim that any ” aggressive “action towards the dog on the part of the owner will certainly cause the dog to respond in kind. If this is the case any pinning (which could be termed aggressive but which I believe is actually assertive) would provoke aggressive behaviour in the dog. Improperly administered corrections, by that I mean corrections delivered in an aggressive manner, can and will open up the possibility of an aggressive response on the dog’s part. Animal trainers speak of “rehearsed aggression” ; I think it was a lion tamer who actually coined this term. Rehearsed aggression refers to aggression that is elicited in an animal by means of, or in response to a training method. Accepting as a genuine concern that undesirable aggression can be the result of training, it is crucial to note that it is improper training that can bring about this type of outcome. [Read more]

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