Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guide Dog commercial with a Malinois :)

This is pretty good, love the agility of the Mal, the snarl as he's jumping the fence is a little too much though!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Geocaching Update

Bullet at Witch's Cache GC1362K

Bullet is catching on quickly to finding Geocaches with me, he found four out of four today all on his own, both plastic and metal. He's still not 100% sure what he's looking for which is why he's pausing to focus on me, as he becomes more confident those pauses will diminish. We need to work on passive indications, he pawed at all four caches today and I don't want him to disturb them in any way.

Here is a video of the second find of the day with Lexus tagging along. After we've found the cache I'm starting to reward Lexus for looking at/sniffing the box.

Lexus is growing quickly, I keep forgetting that she's only 14 weeks old!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My dear, sweet Enzo.

Described as being out-of-control and crazy, I admit I was nervous meeting you for the first time. The unknown element of a new puppy or dog gets me anxious, even now, but the feeling is intensified when I am "warned" beforehand. A new challenge excites me though and I was looking forward to seeing what you would bring to our home.

Turns out you were nothing but a big, goofy ball of energetic leaping Doodle who was full of self-reinforcing behaviours with no respect for people.

We called you Doodle-dee, doodle-dumb. You were not stubborn, yet you were sensitive. I had to be fair and clear with you, training started from scratch as you learned to work for a reward. Even small corrections caused you to get hyper and stop thinking at first.

We worked hard together for a year and guess what? You did well. You quickly learned boundaries. You learned self control. You learned to focus and think rather than just react. It's amazing how quickly dogs figure out what works and what doesn't work... How quickly they adapt to a new set of rules. You were no different.

When you were recalled for training you continued to do well.

Sooner than expected I heard you were fast-tracked and placed with an Autistic boy. I was very proud, you had come a long way!

After a couple of months you were returned by the family.

Jumping, mouthing and crazy behaviours had returned with a vengeance, behaviours that aren't safe or acceptable around children. Sigh.

"It's amazing how quickly dogs figure out what works and what doesn't work." It's also amazing how quickly 11 months worth of self-reinforcing behaviours come back.


Truthfully, I was upset. Once a dog leaves my house I lose all control. There is absolutely nothing I can do. Being the control freak I am this really bothers me.

I also think we expect a lot out of these working animals. The families they go to may have zero dog experience. Even if they have dog experience are they handling the dog fairly? Are their expectations realistic? Are the children too rough? Ultimately they are still animals, not pieces of equipment.


You were placed back into the training program yet the behaviours continued. They were hoping to find the right match for you but that never happened and you were released. I received the call yesterday about your "Career Change". (Or as I like to phrase it: My big fat failure.)


I can't help but wonder if there was more I could have done with Enzo, but truthfully he was not showing these behaviours with me. I proofed him around children, in different environments, etc, but the fact was I was a constant element in his life. With me brought the boundaries and rules he expected. In class we often trade dogs so they learn to work with others as well, he did well in that situation. Outside of training, in everyday life, these same rules weren't enforced so erosion happened quickly and he took advantage. Dogs ultimately do what is reinforcing to them, for better or for worse.

Then I start to ponder the differences between handling and training. Can you be a better handler than trainer? Can the two be separated or are they one and the same? I don't have an answer to this question yet.


In conclusion... There is a lovely dog looking for a nice pet home.

Anyone interested in a trained two year old Golden/Poodle cross who doesn't shed, has been socialized well and has a great joie de vivre?

Monday, December 07, 2009

"Career Changed" Service Dog Puppies

Over at Ours For a Year I read about a yellow lab named Cabana who was recently Career Changed (CC'd). After you have invested a year or more of your life raising a puppy, taking them everywhere, training them for everything this is a very hard thing to experience. Even when you see it coming and there is nothing you could have done to prevent it, it hurts.

Here is a must-watch video about a service dog puppy that didn't make it:

K9-CRAZY – Geocaching

A friend introduced me to a wonderful activity that I've been wanting to try for a while – Geocaching.

Bullet with a larger Ammo Cache.

In short, you find the coordinates of hidden containers of different sizes and materials at, enter them into your GPS and drive & walk until you reach the spot. That's only half the battle. Once there your job is to find the hidden cache. There are caches worldwide, some are hidden in your very neighborhood and on trails you think you know well!

Find out more at Caches are rated based on the difficulty of the search and the difficulty of the terrain getting there. The hardest cache would be rated a 5/5, like this one in Antarctica (GC18G1Z).

Sounds fun, eh?

It is!

Bullet is my Geocaching buddy, together we are K9-CRAZY. I'm currently teaching him to search and find the cache once we reach the coordinates. He already knows how to footstep track, and I've taught him to search for hidden toys since he was a puppy, so it shouldn't be too difficult to teach him this new nose game.

Here is Bullet searching, although he hasn't quite grasped exactly what he's searching for yet:

I'm encouraging the passive indication that I've taught him for toy searches in my house, no pawing or barking, just an intense stare in the direction of the object:

On our travels we'll get to experience new trails I never knew existed, and it gives us an added element to walks we'd be taking anyways.

Bullet at a pothole created by a Glacier at Hilton Falls Conservation Area.

Bullet climbing his first stile on the Bruce trail.

Happy trails everyone!