Welcome

Hello, and welcome to my blog!

My blog is my outlet of expression to share my experience, my adventure, and hopefully some useful tips along the way!

If you have a particular question or topic you’d like me to cover in my blog, please let me know using the form below.

 

 

The weekly round-up

Ok, more or less a weekly round up, but hey, it’s a dogs life over here, and i’m just trying to keep up with ’em! πŸ˜›

L-R: Amp, Kirby, Scout

Amp is having a good time, and has adjusted well to Kirby being around. Those boys get to rough housing now and then, all in good fun, but boy do they knock the dust loose! Amp is always up for a good pet or head scratch, is never late for a treat, and will sometimes come sit with me during morning coffee to say hello!

Amp wants to try my coffee…..

Kirby is making leaps and bounds of progress in his program, has become calm and confident in his daily activities, and enjoys testing boundaries by giving a new thing a little nibble, then looking at me to see what i’ll say. Thankfully, he responds well, and quickly, to a simple voice command! His face is usually smiling, and his nose is usually sniffing… even when he’s snoozing! He, too, likes to say good morning while i’m having coffee.

“I like coffee… I think…” -Kirby

Scout is finally enjoying having two boys to play with, and is happy to get out there and play rough with the boys, too! Last seen aggravating the mess out of ‘them boys’, she was lost in a cloud of dust as she sped away!
(She’s too fast for a picture) πŸ˜›

This past weekend all three dogs got to travel with me to a friends house, where their three dogs got to all meet and play with Kirby (who is new to them) and my two (who are not new to them). The initial meeting was tense because two of the friends dogs did NOT want to be nice, but Kirby responded very well; he was calm, cool, and did not fight, lunge, attack, or even growl back when provoked! After a few hours of sniffing and posturing, all six dogs were seen running circles around each other in the backyard, having far too much fun to care about who’s new or who’s who!

I’m very proud of Kirby for coming out of his shell, putting his past behind him, and quickly learning to thrive in his new life. I look forward to introducing him to his new family when the time is right, and I know they’ll have many happy memories with him!

Kirby: Settling in nicely

Kirby has now been with me, *checks his timer* 4 days and 8 hours. He enjoys playing with the other dogs, playing with me, and snuggle time (boy does he ever enjoy snuggle time!).

While his first meeting with Scout didn’t go so well, they’ve mended their differences and decided to be friends, with a little help and training of course.

Playtime!

Kirby has shown himself to be a wonderful dog, no rougher around the edges than any other dog fresh out of the shelter, and loves to be loved. He responds well to training, is quickly picking up all the things i’m putting down (food on the floor AND manners/obedience/commands), and has already racked up several compliments near and far in the neighborhood.

He has also found the pleasure of the bed, and while I keep an eye on him to make sure he leaves my blanket alone, he’s happy to snooze behind me while I whittle away my keyboard.


Kirby is a terrific example of the travesty of ‘breed labels’, and exemplifies exactly why they should be ignored; he’s nothing like Animal Services said he is, he’s just a dog, mis- treated by humans, judged harshly by humans, and, thanks to the wonderful human that runs the Humane Society, given a second chance to have a wonderful life. I’m honored, and still a little awed, at being a part of that, and not a moment spent with Kirby goes by that I don’t enjoy having him around.

Adventures of the mutts…

One of the biggest causes of aggression in dogs is food, which falls under ‘Resource Guarding’, a behavior that’s common for dogs that were never taught to share.
When you’re dealing with one, or more, aggressive dogs in a pack, you have to be careful not to have food out as it’ll usually cause a fight.
For my pack, I simply refuse to tolerate that kind of behavior, and I insist that everyone get along nicely. For those who don’t want to get along nicely, i’ll adjust training to modify (remove) that behavior so that we all get along nicely.

As you can see in the video above, all three dogs are getting along fine while working on one plate (a terrific way to wash dishes AND save water, by the way!), even Kirby, who came to me with the dreaded, ‘Aggressive’ (mis)label. Keep in mind that this video was taken July 9th, so Kirby had been with us for less than 3 whole days. It’s amazing what a little love and training can do for a dog!

Dog Training: The Corrections

In all forms of dog training, corrections need to be made. In that, there are three main types, or ‘levels’ of correction in my system.

One: Voice correction.
Voice correction means i’m just using a word, a noise, or a tone, nothing more than my voice, to make the correction. There’s a wide range available here, from a gentle, ‘hey’, to a loud, sharp, “NO!”, or anywhere in between. This level is the gentlest, and it is my goal to get my dogs to this level ASAP.

Two: The Touch.
The Touch is the first of two levels that are physical, and is also a range. The Touch can be a quick, light touch, like a poke (or when you boop the schnooop), or on the other end of the scale, it’s a sharp smack or slap. No, be mindful that this needs to be used in a corrective manner, not an abusive one, which means it’s just ONE touch, not repeated.
I use this as level 2 for behavior, again anywhere on the scale where appropriate, but after i’ve used my Voice correction.

Three: Let’s get rowdy
Let’s get Rowdy is the highest level, and it’s what I use to get dogs to cooperate. Now again, it’s important to note that this needs to be used in a corrective way, not an abusive way, so you’re not ‘beating the dog up’, you’re simply controlling the dog, physically, until you get the dog to cooperate with you. When using this level, i’ve exhausted the other two levels, and I need the dog to cooperate for whatever reason.

So let’s put this all into perspective. First, I only use the level that’s needed for the issue at hand. If my voice is all that’s needed, if my, ‘no sir’, gets the dog to stop that behavior, then i’m all done, and i’ll give a praise and pet so they understand that listening and cooperating is good, is nice, and they’ll want more of that.
Second, I do make every effort to go through the levels, but I will go through them very quickly if needed; if the dog is simply not listening to me voice recall them in my fenced in backyard with no dangers around, we’ve got time, and things are very slow.
If the dog is barreling down the street towards some small kids after digging under the fence, then i’m moving very quickly (think, ‘greased lightning’, it’s why I eat a lot of bacon).
In this example, i’ve got a dog not listening to my recall, running away from me, which means i’ve use level 1, so i’m working on level 2. I if I can get close enough to the dog for a Touch, i’ll use an appropriate touch to get their cooperation. If that doesn’t work, i’ll go to level 3, which means i’m grabbing the dog, and then physically controlling their body while they’re trying to get away. Again, not abusive/mean/violent, but part of dog training means you may have to physically overpower and control the dog at some point.

So, three levels of corrections. Used correctly inside your training system, you’ll have your dogs down level 1 at no time, and be able to maintain that. Voice controlled dogs are the best! πŸ˜€

Kirby: Post 2, he caught a shoe…

Me: “No sir, you may NOT chew on my shoe”.
Kirby: “But, I wanna!”
M: “Nope.”
K: “Fine, but i’ma hold it….”

Kirby has officially been here for 48 hours at the time of writing this post, and in that time he’s responded very well to love, discipline, and training. I’ll peel off and rant about dogs being labeled in shelters in other posts, but the very very short version is, “It’s fucking stupid, and it needs to stop now”. Ok, back to Kirby. πŸ™‚

Part of training is correction, and correction comes in three main forms (another post). One of the indicators I use is how quickly can I move UP the list, from the worst to the least? With Kirby, he’s already responding well to voice correction for almost everything, which reinforces that he IS a great dog, and all he needs is a little love, care, and discipline (all dogs need that, and people, too).

So here I am, working from home, doing all the stuff I do, and now having a dog that I keep a 24 hour watch on (it’s my system). The staff at the shelter he came from are no doubt eager to hear of his failure (or mine) because he’s on their list of dogs to destroy. We know he came from a ‘fight house’, and while we don’t think he ever fought, we do know he’s not well-socialized, and some people marked him as ‘aggressive’. Well, they were wrong.
The biggest problem I have with Kirby is that if I sit down on the floor with him, he’ll either come play with me, or, he’ll flop himself into my lap and press his whole body into me until i’m rubbing his head and his belly. He demands both hands, both, none of this, ‘one handed nonsense’.

It really irritates me that people are so quick to destroy this dog without spending any time, putting in any effort, or giving him anything close to love, care, patience, discipline, training, exercise…..
Luckily, Kirby is full of love, happiness, and smiles, and he’s been happy to share those with me!

Meet Kirby

Kirby is tired… πŸ™‚

Hello everyone, meet Kirby! Kirby is a beautiful young male Staffordshire Bull Terrier, full of energy, and loves to play! He comes from a rough background and tends to play too rough sometimes, which is why the Humane Society brought him to me for some in-depth training!

I met Kirby yesterday (Friday) at the Humane Society, and my first impression was, ‘he’s smaller than I thought he’d be! :)’. He’s small, but he’s solid; overflowing with love, energy, and a zest for life!

Kirby is a perfect example of how dogs become what they are trained or taught to become. He comes from a rough background where he was treated roughly, fed little to keep him hungry, and was in training to become a fighting dog. He was rescued from that life by chance, and easily passed all of his temperament tests to make it to the Humane Society, but three months of sitting in a kennel has weighed heavily on him.

He got here about noon today, and so far he’s had a bath, is already showing good manners, walks a little better on the leash, doesn’t lunge at other dogs anymore, and is adjusting his behavior for playing instead of fighting for his life from his past. While there was a warning from animal services saying he was aggressive, after all i’ve put him through today, i’ve yet to see any signs of aggression. I have, however, seen many signs of neglect, poor training, and poor human behavior in him. Luckily, I’ve got plenty of time, patience, and treats to help him overcome his past training, and he’s got a burning desire to be the best dog he can be!

Keep an eye out for Kirby, here and on Facebook, as he’ll be up for adoption to a loving home with great manners soon! πŸ˜€

Edit to add:
Kirbys Timer

Road Signs: Crunching the numbers

Another fun fact (hey, it’s fun to ME!~) is that the numbers on the road signs all have some kind of meaning, and once you understand the system, you’ll know what they mean, too!

Any two-digit highway sign (I-20, I-65, US-98, etc) means it’s a primary highway. If the numbers are EVEN, it’s an EAST-WEST highway. If the numbers are ODD, it’s a NORTH-SOUTH highway. So, I-20? East-West. I-95? North South. US-98? US Highway that’s East-West. Neat, huh? Watch this…

Any THREE digit highway (I-710, I-185, I-635) is EITHER a bypass, or a spur of the highway number.
How do you tell the difference? Well, if the FIRST number is EVEN, it’s a bypass, meaning it will reconnect with the main highway later.
If the FIRST number is ODD, it’s a spur, which means it does NOT connect back to the main highway.
So, I-710? A spur (first number ODD), off of I-10.
I-285? A bypass (first number EVEN), off of I-85.
Neat, right? Yeah it is, you nerd…… πŸ˜›

Mile Marker Signs

Part of our series on road signs, Mile Markers are found on every Interstate, US highway, and State highway. You may find them on other roadways as well, usually only on access-controlled roadways.

Mile marker signs

Mile marker signs are very helpful for navigating the country, and are best used for figuring out distance from one point to another.

For the US Interstate system, Mile Markers start at 0 in the WEST or SOUTH, and INCREASE going EAST or NORTH. So if you’re traveling EAST on I-20, the mile marker numbers will be going up, but if you then turn SOUTH on I-35, the numbers will be going down. If you just remember that all miles start in San Diego (Southern California) and work their way up to Maine (Far North East USA) you’ll do fine.

A second key point to remember is that mile markers reset at every state line, no matter which direction you’re going. Heading West means the mile markers will tell you how long it is until the next state line (or end of the interstate), and the same is true if you’re headed South. Heading East or North means you’d have to know how many miles of interstate are in the state you’re in, but luckily that information is on the top of the page for each state in your Road Atlas, or readily available on google.

Alright, now that we know what they do, what can they tell us?
Well, for one thing, they can give us distance to exits! Exit ramps all over the US are numbered based on the Mile section they’re in. So, exit 44 should be 44 miles from the SOUTH or WEST state line of the interstate you’re on.

Something else they can do, especially for interstate travel, is help us plan our route for long trips. When I was driving commercial trucks all over the US, I always planned for a 600 mile day, so i’d crunch the numbers to figure out where that would get me to, and then look along that route for likely delays, detours, traffic, construction, weather, or other issues.

So next time you’re on the road, take a look at those mile marker signs, and start practicing the math to figure out miles from where you are, to where you want to be!

Dog training: The foundation

As with all things, before you can start doing a thing, you have to understand the foundational principles of the thing. The better your understanding and application of the principles, the easier it will be for you to train your dog!

First thing you need is a basic understanding of how dogs work. Dogs are simple creatures, generally happy, and usually react predictably. Take some time to do some reading, or video watching, to get a handle on dog behavior.

Second thing you need is patience. While dog training is fairly simple, your patience will be tested, not because the dog wants to ‘test you’, but because there is a fundamental gap between our communication and theirs. So always remember to breathe, relax, and work through the steps only as fast as they’re being met!

Third, you have to be consistent. Dog training is about providing feedback after a behavior, and you have to be consistent with that feedback, and on which part of what behavior, or it won’t make sense to the dog and they’ll just let it go. Consistency means giving the same type (positive or negative), and level (small, medium, or large), of feedback each time that behavior is performed so the dog gets it.

Fourth, you need precision. The lazy need not waste their time here as lacking precision will only create problems for the dog, and the trainer. Precision means providing the right feedback (type and level) at the right moment, and in the right order. For example, you cannot punish a dog for breaking a rule AFTER you’ve given them ANY command and they’ve followed it, that just confuses the dog!

Fifth, you need persistence. Dog training is not something that happens immediately, or overnight; it takes days, weeks, sometimes months to train behaviors into, or out of, your dog. Potty training should happen 5-10 times a day, manners should happen all throughout every day, and basic obedience training should happen twice a day for a month to be effective.

If you’ve gone through the five pillars of the dog training foundation and feel like you have what it takes, then let’s get started!
If not, please consider consulting a professional trainer; your dog, and your patience, will both be better for it!

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign!

There are a lot of signs out on the roads these days, but do you know what they all mean? Sure, some are obvious, while others, not so much.

From https://www.accuform.com/news/Road-Signs-and-Meanings-What-Do-Signs-Mean , here’s a brief overview to get us started:

The meaning of colors on road signs
  • Red:  Red generally means stop. The use of red on signs is limited to stop, yield, and prohibition signs.
  • White: A white background indicates a regulatory sign.
  • Yellow: Yellow conveys a general caution message.
  • Green: Green shows permitted traffic movements or directional guidance.
  • Fluorescent yellow/green: Indicates pedestrian crossings and school zones.
  • Orange: Orange is used for warning and guidance in roadways work zones.
  • Coral: Coral is used for incident management signs.
  • Blue: Blue indicates road user services, tourist information, and evacuation routes.
  • Brown: Brown is used to show guidance to sites of public recreation or cultural interest.

Although the colors play a critical factor in providing consistency throughout the roads and highways, each shape of road signs has a specific meaning, as well. The shape of road signs can alert drivers about the message prior to reading the contents. Depending on weather conditions, the only thing you might be able to make out is the shape of the sign. If that’s the case – the shape of the sign is just as critical as the message, if not more.

The meaning of the shape of road signs
  • An octagon road sign conveys the need to stop. A stop sign is the only sign that uses this shape.
  • An upside down triangle road sign always means β€œyield.”
  • Diamond-shaped road signs always warn of possible hazards ahead. These are traffic signs, temporary traffic control signs, and some pedestrian and bicycle signs.
  • Pennant-shaped road signs warn drivers of no passing zones.
  • Round-shaped road signs are used for railroad signs. When you see a round traffic sign, you will likely see a railroad crossing or light rail transit crossing signs ahead.
  • A pentagon-shaped road signs provides warning that a school zone is ahead or school crossing zone is approaching.
  • A horizontal rectangle-shaped road signs usually provides guidance to drivers but can be used for a variety of needs.
  • Vertical rectangle road signs are typically used to inform drivers of regulatory notices, such as speed limits.

Interesting, isn’t it? There’s a lot of other information available in the signs all around us, and we’ll talk more about that in upcoming posts.