Archive | May, 2013

You don’t need much to make a fun game

29 May

Just like us, your dog needs to be physically AND mentally stimulated. Bored dogs often result in destructive and otherwise unwanted behaviour (i.e. attention barking).

 

Of course, you will have seen the amount of different dog toys and puzzles available on the market, and the majority of these are great, but ever noticed how expensive they are? You don’t need to spend a lot of money to please your dog. Here i decided to create a short list of a few things you can do to mentally stimulate your dog, without hurting your wallet.

1. Plastic bottles. 

This is an absolute favourite of my dogs (and also my previous dogs). If you are like me and drink bottled water, or have the occasional bottle of something fizzy, save the bottle. Remove the cap and that little plastic ring and you are good to go. Your dog will probably spend an unbelievable amount of time playing. They are light and can be tossed around in the air, they make crunchy noises and you might even consider putting some treats inside for your dog to try to get out. Filling them with water can be fun in the summer, but do supervise your dog to make sure that they don’t hold the bottle up and end up choking on the water (this happened to Maya when she was a little pup).

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Plastic bottle are probably one of Maya’s favourite things in the whole world!

 

 

2. An empty bone. 

If your dog is like mine, and just eats the middle (or the marrow) out of the bone and leaves the rest, save it. You can fill it with something else delish, and make them work for it once more. I often put a tea spoon of peanut butter inside an empty bone, and this usually takes Maya about half an hour or so before she has cleaned it back out again. To buy bones anyway is usually not too expensive, and will keep your dog satisfied for hours.

3. The hose.

Mine aren’t so keen, but if it is warm out you might want to try turning on the hose and playing with your dog. Many will love running in and out of the spray, cooling off and burning some energy at the same time.

4. Puzzles.

Instead of buying one of those fancy puzzles try making your own. All you need is a few treats or a small portion of your dogs food (remember to be food wise and do not overfeed) and something to hide it in. You could try putting out several cups and hiding food under just one or two, then letting your dog search for the food (don’t let your dog watch whilst you are preparing or they will know where to go!). I sometimes use their food bowls. These are heaving and when put on the patio they are flat against the ground and so it takes them some time to figure out how to flip them up and get the treats.

5. Agility. 

You can make your own agility equipment with things laying around your house or shed. You could try making some jumping poles out of old pieced of piping for example. Once you have created a small obstacle course, you can spend time with your dog teaching it your own little agility course.

6. Tea towels. 

You can make a tug of war rope by using an old tea towel. Just twist it up and secure the ends and there you have your very own tugger.

7. Hide and seek. 

Yep, hide and seek, the game you played as a child. This might work best if there are two of you so that one person can hold and distract the dog whilst the other person hides. But it could work just as well if you hide when your dog is distracted by something else. Once you have hidden call your dog and wait for him to find you. This is also a great game for working dog breeds, particularly those with instinct to retrieve.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmhetShkylw

 

 

8. Bubbles.

You can pick up a tube of bubbles for about a pound or so. You could even make your own using washing up liquid. Some dogs absolutely love to chase bubbles around. It really gets them jumping and moving around and their brain working as they try to locate them and then work out why they have disappeared.

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9. Sticks. 

Yep, sticks and other bits and pieces you might find in your garden or out on walks are perfect. You could easily spend hours playing fetch with a stick or a pine cone, and they have something to chew on afterwards.

10. The sock.

Dog’s love socks. I don’t know why, but they just do. There are all sorts of things you can do with a sock. Make them into a ball, put some food in one and tie the end so they have to work out how to get to the food, or you could even make them crackle by sandwiching some plastic or something between two. Have a think and see what ideas you can come with.

 

Ok, so there we go, ten cheap and easy way to stimulate your dog, both mentally and physically. See if you can come up with any ideas.

I’d love to hear how you get on with any of these suggestions and if you have any of your own. Comment or send me a message! 🙂

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Training session rules

26 May

I guess it’s pretty much up to you how you train your dog, but there are some hints and tricks that work pretty well that you might like to follow!

 

1. Keep it short.

Think you don’t have time to train your dog? What if i told you each session only really needs to last 5 to 10 minutes? Really, that’s as long as it needs to be!

2. Keep it fun. 

Only train if you are in a positive mood. If you are enjoying yourself, so will your dogs (and they will be much more likely to respond). I often take short breaks during the session (particularly with Max) to do something fun, like throw a ball a couple of times. If it’s nice out, i will always take them out into the garden after training for a few minutes play time.

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Max is great at fetch and this works well both during training and afterwards as a way of keeping things fun.

 

3. Stay positive. 

Reward them when they do something right, ignore it when they don’t. The opposite of reward, is no reward. NOT punishment.

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Ok, so there wasnt really a picture i could use for this one…so, ill show you a smile instead

 

 

4. Motivation. 

Why would your dog want to sit and wait patiently for no reason? They need some reward. This means choosing your reward very carefully, you need to use something of high value. If your dog is very food orientated (most are) then use food based treats (or some of the breakfast/dinner). Food treats need to be small, no bigger than a finger nail, something that they can gulp down quickly without getting distracted by it.  If your dog is toy orientated, use a toy (or several). If praise is enough, reward them with high pitched, singsong tones and lots of enthusiasm.

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Click, then reward

 

5. Timing is key. 

You probably all know by now that i highly recommend the use of a clicker. It is important that you can place a marker of exactly when your dog does what is asked. A clicker allows for this. For example, if you ask for a sit, you click as soon as your dogs bum is on the floor. They know exactly what they have done right, and then receive their reward for it just seconds later.

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Maya and Max know the clicker well. As soon as they hear it, they know a tasty treat is on its way to them.

 

6. Short commands.

Dogs generally only absorb the last syllable of every word you say. Therefore a short command works best. Whilst you might use “lay down”, really all your dog is hearing is “down” so why not stick with that.

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7. Vary the routine. 

If you carry out the same routine over and over again, the dog will learn this. Whilst that is very good, it doesn’t really mean that your dog is listening and obeying you, more that it knows what you expect. Do you hate your day job where you do the same thing day in day out? Yeah, that’s the way your dog feels about doing the same training session over and over and over. Its boring. Remember number 2? Keep it fun!

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8. Take your time. 

To begin with, your dog might only stay sitting in one place for a few seconds. It may only focus on training for a couple of minutes. If you want to increase the time, you need to take your time. Training is a slow and gradual process, and a life long commitment. Work on your basic obedience first before going onto “tricks”. A dog that can sit and wait can avoid potential danger, a dog that can spin in a circle, not so much.

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Maya is great at waving, but she is always practicing her basic obedience which needs improving still when on walks.

 

 

9. The environment. 

To begin with, you want to train somewhere with no distractions. This means no sounds, no toys, no other animals or people. Gradually switch things up. Eventually you should be able to get to the point where you can stop in the middle of the woods or along the beach and have a quick five minute training session during your walk.

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Before you can get a nice sit outside, you need to work on it indoors

 

10. Eye contact. 

By eye contact, i really mean focus. This isn’t a rule as such, but something i have come to appreciate. I can tell when my dogs want to please me, when they are enjoying their training and really focusing on me and what I say because they make eye contact with me.

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All of their focus is on me. It’s the same when i give them their food, they look at me, they wait until i say go, then they eat.

 

 

Happy training!

 

 

 

Adventures in the sunshine

26 May

Now that Max is finally able to go out for walks again (after having his dew claw removed), he is getting up to all sorts of mischief with his big sister. Lucky for these two sun loving hounds, it has been a beautiful weekend, and that of course, means i have had my camera out.

 

 

A long, long walk:

 

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The best thing about the sunshine is that we can go on nice long walks (until it gets too hot that is). This was Max’s longest walk yet, through the woods, to the beach and back again!

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            You want to point that camera at me? Here, is this close enough?

 

Going for walks is a great time to keep up with practicing recall training. The dogs have a great time roaming about and having a sniff, but every time they get to a certain distance (i go with the approx length of the garden), call them back, whistle, whatever you do. See how quickly they come running, its great practice for when you need them to come back in an emergency.

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Coming back to the whistle like pro’s. Both with a “smile” on their face, bonus!

 

Here Maya spotted a deer in the distance. This time, she just stood and watched for a moment before we called her back. Later in the day a deer jumped out right in front of her, and off she went, hot on its heels. Don’t worry, she came back once she had had enough! In this isntance, the deer was much more exciting than her recall response!

 

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The best thing to do when the sun is shining and it’s hot out? You got it! SWIMMING!

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   Fancy a dip anyone?

 

 

One of the nice things about where i live, is all of the bird reserves. Here we are taking a peek from one of the hides. Max was particularly interested, we didn’t see many birds though!

 

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After all of those adventures, we wondered if little Max would even make it home. He hopped straight into the car and collapsed.

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A long walk makes a tired puppy!

 

Oh look! The sea!

Ok, so this little trip wasn’t entirely planned.  When the dog’s get messy, what is the easiest way to clean them off? The beach!

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Sorry we got so mucky and smelly…. we really didn’t mean to “fall” in the swamp.

 

Really, when you have two “big” dogs, bathing them isn’t always easy. We try not to get into situations where we have to put them in the bath, its dirty, smelly and they scratch the porcelain. Then of course, too many baths isn’t good for these dogs anyway. Why bath them when you can take them swimming in the sea anyway?

 

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Maya is much happier to go in the sea now that she is a big girl, little Max wasn’t so keen to follow her. So, my shoes and socks came off and in i went!

 

Sunbathing:

 

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Maya was born for the sun

 

 

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Even indoors these two find the sunshine and make the most of it!

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Garden fun, and bubbles!

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floppy ears! The bubble is getting away!

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Come on! Blow some bubbles!

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Just before the big jump!

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Throw the ball! Go on, throw it!

 

The end!

So, sorry again for being not posting much lately, but hopefully these pictures of the terrible two will make you smile!

 

Licks and cuddles from Maya and Max, keep wagging!

 

 

The Plan

26 May

Hey guys! 

 

Once again i am So So sorry that i haven’t been posting, even though i promised you i would! Things have been a little hectic lately with the dogs and my own life. 

This is what is going on: as of next week i will be continuing with my voluntary work at school (remember, i want to teach?) and then starting part time work at a tea room. Basically, this means i will have slightly less time and also less imagination (brain power :/) to make as many posts as i used to. 

Here is the solution, i am going to dedicate two days a week to post on here. 

Every Wednesday and every Sunday you can expect a post on puppypanic! 

 

Another thing you can expect: i am considering changing the domain name, so don’t panic about that!

 

Finally:

I really love it when you comment and give me feedback, that was part of the idea behind this site, so share experiences, ideas etc, so keep that up. Suggestions for posts are also always great because i love helping people out and also researching and therefore learning about new things. 

 

See you soon my lovely followers!

Conditioning and Counter Conditioning

18 May
  1.  Conditioning

Where the behaviour of an animal is modified by learning that a specific stimulus requires a certain response is known as conditioning. In other words, when a human gives a visual or verbal command, the dog would learn to respond in a particular way, or move into a certain position. For example, the dog could learn to assume a sitting position and a relaxed state of mind when the owner clicks his/her fingers and points at the dog, if this is what it has been conditioned to do. This particular stimulus/response is something I myself have conditioned my own puppy to do. Reinforces are often used in order to aid this method of behavioural modification as a reward for carrying out the desired behaviour.

      Counter conditioning

Counter conditioning could be considered to be the opposite of conditioning. This type of behaviour modification is used when the dog responds to a stimulus is a way that is considered to be undesirable by the owner. For example, when the doorbell rings it might bark excessively or run around the house in an excitable or fearful manner. Counter conditioning involves learning in order to replace the unacceptable behaviour with one that is desirable. Like with condition, reinforcement is used to reward the acceptable/desired behaviour. In this instance the dog should realise or learn that it is not able to react negatively. During this process it eventually associates the reward with the stimulus and the unacceptable behaviour is no longer carried out. A dog that does not like the sound of the doorbell and reacts inappropriately by running around and barking might benefit from counter conditioning, by teaching the dog to associate the doorbell with something positive i.e. the reward and therefore teaching it to react in a way that is deemed acceptable.

 

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CUDDLES!

13 May

CUDDLES!

I don’t think i have ever seen two animals get as cuddly as this. My doggies really do love each other.

I did something fun today…

9 May

I got a new tattoo, and it’s dog themed so i thought i would share it with you!

 

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