Sunday, March 28, 2010

Don't Forget to Say, "Good Job."

How do you get someone to keep doing a good job when they are doing a good job? You tell them that. Let them know that they are doing well. It's so easy for us to be negative and we tend (I hate to say) to be a punishment driven society. I think this is in all of us to some degree, myself included. It's so easy to point out when someting's wrong. But what about when something is right or someone is doing a good thing?

When people get too much of, "this is wrong", "that is wrong", "you didn't do this right" they get sort of beat down or disinterested in interacting with that negativity.....right? It seems to me no one would want to continue working at something when there is no win at the end or that there is no end.

I think it's probably the same with dogs. When it's no, no, no, no, no, sit, sit, sit, sit, and there's no "good job!" or "good dog!" to say great, you did it, it can cause the behaviors you want to actually disappear rather than to happen again. For a behavior to continue there must be some sort of reinforcement either through the environment, from other dogs, people or the handler of the dog.

I know you guys all probably know this but this is just a friendly reminder to reward your dogs, they aren't trying to misbehave they may possibly lack reinforcement for the correct behavior (or maybe reinforcement for the wrong ones inadvertently - that's another article). Of course other issues can be going on in any situation. As a trainer one common thread I see in common unwanted behaviors is no or little reinforcement for proper behavior. It doesn't necessarily have to be a treat but it can be. It can be a toy or just a head scratch, snuggle or a soft, "good boy". It's best if it's right at the time of the behavior as well.

Not that we all go around telling our loved ones how screwed up they are, of course but I think it would be fun to just go through the day and just notice something good that someone is doing and tell them that they are great.....not even just our dogs but everyone we know and love.....not just in training but just as a way of life. I'm certainly working on it!

Check out this handsome guy waiting to hear how great hear how great he is for being to patient and calm.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Oakland Bust

We went to the Oakland shelter today and looked at the dogs from the recent bust. We selected this sweet, playful female. She's a bit shy as most likely she was not well socialized.She was very willing to connect and interact with us in the nicest way during testing however.
We've seen this with bust dogs as you probably can guess these guys don't take their dogs to puppy socials. She's a nice, sweet dog in spite of everything.
She's grooving in right now.....we have an idea for a name but would love to hear your ideas on a name for this sweet girl.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Train for Everything

Train for Everything...

Training is an interesting sort of thing for dogs. They don't learn the way we do. They learn behaviors in particular settings. Then when the settings change it may seem as though they didn't learn the behaviors at all or that they forgot, they're suddenly stupid etc. For example when you teach your dog a down-stay only in the living room he's less likely to do it elsewhere until you teach him to do it in other places.

I think this is also true for temperament conditioning. It's great that a dog loves his people at home but it's best if he's good with everyone, not just his own folks. There's nothing better than being able to take a dog out as a pup then as an adult to places where there are lots of people, kids etc and your dog enjoys it as much as you do. So much of this has to do with your dog's happiness and how you can provide that for him.

To help with temperament I think everyone knows to socialize your pup early, often and continue this thoughout his life. I've written many blogs on the subject. However, I think it does need to be said again and again as the problem with dogs in the shelters is lack of training, socialization and of course the crucial "teenage" age that they're at.

We work with adult dogs a lot. Folks come to us when they've been there, done that with their dog. Or they've just adopted one of the above type dogs from the shelter. We try to add things into our classes that are real life like. Even dogs that are great in most settings can be a bit touchy about seeing a small boy go by on a skate board while saying "weeeeeeee!" for instance. But hey, this is part of life. So what do we do? We desensitize the dogs to this by exposing them in little increments and reward them for calm, happy behavior. Before you know it, most dogs are getting that all is ok with skateboarding youngsters.

Here's a picture of our favorite boy Darian, super, fabulous skate boarder, helmut and all! Some dogs were a bit concerned at first when he whizzed by and after a short period of time they were focused back on their people, happy, calm and not a care in the world.

Sometimes we provide "the Odd Man" or we have a firefighter etc.

It's best to our dogs so they know the world is safe. Pit Bulls generally have such stable temperaments and good optimism. However, no one can stay happy and well adjusted when they haven't been socialized to their environment, and that goes for anyone of any breed or species. Unfortunately Pit Bulls have been blamed for behavior when was a people problem in that they didn't make sure their dog was well socialized to attain the confidence needed to live a happy, well adjusted life. I know you guys know this but I just thought I'd reiterate this life saving point. Dogs are more likely to be put down due to these problems in shelter than diseases.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Something Uplifting

Here's Georgia from a Georgia raid passing her medical facilty therapy exam. Thanks Noelle for your good work and fostering.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paco Collars is Helping Dogs!

Paco Collars are awesome! They're beautiful and so well made. They have a certain style and look to them I love. They are so durable even for my rockin' out hard playin' gang. I want to also thank Paco Collars for donating part of their profits to Our Pack! Here's how it works:

To order one of these rockin' collars go to
On the Paco Collars site, use the code CAOU01 in the Coupon Code area. On the Fetching Tags site, use the code in the "Note to Tagmaker" area until further notice - a coupon code area is being worked on as we speak.

Either way, any order that's made using this code, 20% of the purchase will be donated back to Our Pack!

Thank you again Paco Collars for making such beautiful collars and helping dogs too!! You guys ROCK!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Got this in an e mail....

Here's Cynthia one of our fantastic fosters who worked with Charlotte from a dog fighting raid out of Arizona the day she passed her therapy cert.
I got the following in an e mail. When will some folks realize that Pit Bulls are born for therapy work with their people loving personalities.
Here's the e mail --
Saturday, M...arch 13, 2010 ~
Original posting at

Denver and Aurora denies Veterans- and
Denver lawsuits
News hit the airwaves on this
Friday morning regarding Denver and TWO major lawsuits they are
facing due to their so called "Pit Bull" policies.Denver and
Aurora were both been informed Friday March 12th, of a class
action lawsuit to be filed in U.S. District Court, state of
Colorado for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A restraining order was also requested and and an order granted
(3/11/10) to prevent either city from discriminating against
disabled persons having service dogs of a banned breed in their

One person named in the lawsuit is a disabled gulf war
veteran whose service dog is a registered UKC American Pit Bull
Terrier.Doug Kelly, Manager of Denver Animal Control, refused to license
the dog and told the owner he could either get rid of the dog or
move out of Denver. The dog was licensed in previous residences in California
and Arizona as a service dog.

Another veteran who owns a house in Aurora had his pit bull mix seized by animal control as a banned breed, despite his pleas that it was his service dog.The dog was
only released from the pound upon his agreeing to send the dog out
of the city of Aurora and pay fines. This person can't afford to sell
his home and move, but he needs his service dog with him. A friend
is keeping her east of Aurora but this veteran has been denied his right
to his service dog in his home. He must depend on friends to help
him and visits to his service dog to try and keep his life stable.
Both these veterans have written prescriptions from their VA doctors for
the dogs. Another disabled person who wanted to stay in Denver
with her American Pit Bull Terrier while visiting her sister in the
city and attending UKC events in the area was told by Doug Kelly,
Manager of Denver Animal Control, in no uncertain terms that he
would not be issuing her any permit for her service dogs.
TIME TO WAKE UP Denver and Aurora! You cannot deny people their service
dogs no matter what breed they are! Denver and Aurora are violating
FEDERAL LAW and karma's coming back to get them! What does this say
about Denver and Aurora that we haven't already said?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Leo in Ladies Home Journal

Leo was written up in Ladies Home Journal for his work!

Also, here's the blog we did on Ruth, one of his patients who's mentioned in the article.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Two New Our Pack CGC Stars

Peachy came to Our Pack from a dog fighting raid in Georgia last year. She was adopted from us by Tom and Julie. They are just such fab folks for our Peach and have been such good dog managers and trainers for her! She just passed her CGC test this weekend. What a good girl she is and what good people she has!

You've all already seen video of Tyeson and his cat buddy sitting for treats. Here's the link in case you missed it Well, Tyeson also passed his CGC test. Yay Tyeson! Dawn has done a fantastic job with him. Mr. Tyeson used to be Mr. Leash Crazy Man.

Congrats to all! We love you!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Another Fabulous Student

Another Fabulous Student

This is Janie with her Pit Bull Eleanor. What a great job she's done with her.

I say that because Eleanor came to class like a bull in a china shop. Rude, lunging, barking and staring at every dog in class. Whew, she was a little sassy thang!

After 2 weeks in class she's now one of the best dogs in class. Eleanor got the idea very quickly about what to do and not what to do while around other dogs on leash. It's common for dogs to come to class and turn around fast. Some dogs take longer, that's ok too.

Ok, so before folks get the idea that lunging, barking etc toward other dogs (leash reactivity) is just a Pit Bull thing, let me tell you that this was in my all breed obedience class. The German Shepard across the circle in class from Eleanor was VERY happy to engage in some wild party stuff like barking and lunging toward her as well. That's fine. Unfortunately it seems to be a different perception publicly as a general rule when Pit Bulls act out on leash vs a German Sherpard. Strange, in the 60s it wouldn't have been!

Soooooo, our beautiful German Shepard friend is now in our Leash Manners class on Sundays in addition to the ob class learning appropriate behaviors while hanging out with other dogs on leash. Funny eh? This is what it's all about......dogs!
Thanks to Sheila Gibson for the great photo!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Multiple Dog Homes

I am one of those people who has “always” had dogs, and multiple dogs, and never thought of the need to separate them when I was away – They love each other, they’re buddies. I really believe that I was lucky. Now that I actually share my life with a pit bull and a schnauzer I always keep them separate when I am not home, AND I manage their play when I am at home. They get along great. They play together when they want to and ignore and share their space when they are not in the mood to play. They are respectful of each other but I also know that it could happen. Jax – the schnauzer is generally the instigator of rough play and although he certainly isn’t a fragile dog he is the smaller of the two and after having him on crate rest for 6 weeks after his determination to be the stronger tugger of the two and hurting his neck, I really do have to keep him in check. The other day it became very clear why I stick with the crating when I’m not here. Something got Hanna’s attention outside – she is deaf, so it’s hard to say what got her going but she can be very vocal and focused on whatever it is that has her riled up. As she was barking Jax came up to see what the ruckus was about and for one quick minute she turned to bark at him – now nothing happened as I was right there next to both of them but I know my little bugger (Jax) and I know that he is not a shrinking violet so if challenged he would easily snap back. How would that have played out if I hadn’t been there? I never want to find out.

If you click on the title of this post it will take you to the Our Pack article on Pit Bulls and other pets which has some great information.

I don’t really have a reason for posting this now, just something I’ve thought about for a long time and wanted to share with those of you out there who thought like me – it can never happen – it’s just not worth the risk. And now Jax who has had the run of the house for the past 5 years is the first one to go in his crate on his own – even after 6 weeks of having to be there. He is the one who runs in there for his alone time! So don’t think that they can’t adjust to a crate – I know they can!

Here is the proof, that they clearly do get along - and that Jax is NOT timid