Cani….Wha?

Canicross!

The sport of attaching a sled harness to your dog and then attaching it to you……. With no sled.

Then, you run. And try not to fall. It’s AWESOME!

Actually, there’s more to it than that.

To do it on your own is pretty easy. Get a quality harness/line/belt. We use Nooksack Racing gear.

Most dogs naturally pull, so that usually isn’t a problem. Dogs tend to follow a trail, so that usually works out well.

But for it to be a more fun experience for you, and more of “work” experience for them, a few commands are good to have.

Minimums (I find):

– A go command (even though they tend to pull naturally, there are times when they will decide they’d rather not. For this to be a work exercise, they need to go regardless!)

– A stop command (As in, if you stop to tie your shoe you don’t have to tether yourself to a tree)

– A leave it command (As in they “tend” to follow a trail, but it’s surprising how brave little forest creatures get when they see a dog pulling. A sudden left turn into a heavily wooded area as they chase a squirrel can just ruin the experience.)

Nice but not necessary:

– Left/right turn (when trails split this is really nice)

– Heel (depending on the gnarliness of the trail, it’s nice to be able to say walk behind me over this slick wobbly bridge!)

In Competitions people like to have these:

– A tolerance for other dogs. There are going to be a lot of them and they will be AMPED!!! you have to make sure that your dog is either OK with that, or you have bombproof management techniques in your toolbox. Cause you WILL need them. Just because people have taught their dogs to pull doesn’t necessarily mean they have taught them manners!

– About left/right (as in a u-turn one way or the other)

– Over left/right (as in which side of the trail to be on. Useful for passing)

Of course the die-hard “Mushers” (what pulling enthusiasts usually call themselves) do it in a foreign language. But I don’t really care about that.

How to get these skills, you ask?

Yeah that’s the problem.

We read about it, and thought it was awesome sounding. So, we of course asked every trainer we could find for help. No one teaches it. Weird. So we just taught ourselves. And started with the minimums. Not bad.

Then we finally found a Musher willing to help us. And that’s when we found out the secret. You hitch your dog to a team of trained dogs. They are literally attached. You say right, the team pulls them right. Eventually, the team isn’t pulling them, cause they know what right means.

Sweet. If your dog’s not reactive/aggressive.

What about…. You know….. Us?

Well, I can tell you how we do it.

Getting a dog through the minimums isn’t hard. Acclimate them to the equipment. Be consistent with your stop and go commands. Pretty simple. Leave it I do “off-line” first. Then once they have it, they’ll have it on a trail too. So far so good.

The more complex stuff?

Heel you teach off-line, and interrupt your runs with them enough that you have them when you need them. No biggie. So far it’s just like the doggie friendly types.

Left/right turns. That’s where it gets different. If you don’t have a team of dogs to teach your dogs with, you need people.

Here’s one way to try. It’s essentially like teaching recall. You get a fork in a trail and put a person on each side You pick a side, and run up to the fork and say “right” (or whatever you want it to be) the corresponding person then bait’s the dog. After a bunch of successful reps, do the other side. Then it’s the choice factor. As you approach you say one or the other and the correct person baits. Then reduce the baiting until they are dead still and the dog chooses correctly, cause he understands. Then back them further up the trail until eventually they are out of sight, and the dog is being rewarded way after the fork. Then you have a dog that knows the turns, and it didn’t take a dog team to do it.

The tolerance of other dogs…. Or how to manage an aggressive dog in a huge crowd of AMPED dogs?

Whew…. That’s for another time. That’s its own can of worms!

I will leave you with these pics.

Two seconds later!

(first two pics above are of Mabel. Highly dog aggressive, and people reactive, in the biggest CanX race in the state. And the last one is of Bella, who is VERY environmentally challenged, in the same race! If we can do it with them, your dog is NO PROBLEM)

And if those pics of happy dogs and people aren’t enough to make you want your pooch involved with this…… Then I don’t know how you call yourself a dog person!

Want them in it, but don’t want the headache, or physically can’t give them this gift….. Call us. We’ll run em for you!

We Walk DINOS!

Dinosaurs? No D.I.N.O.S.

It’s a concept founded by Jessica Dolce, author of the blog; Notes From A Dog Walker.
Here’s her description:

What is a DINOS?

DINOS™ are Dogs in Need of Space.

DINOS are good dogs that need some space while they’re out on walks. They might be DINOS for a variety of reasons, such as:

•service and working dogs

•illness or recovering from surgery

•leash reactivity

•injuries and painful physical conditions, like arthritis

•intolerance of other animals

•fearful of unfamiliar people

•aging and elderly

•learning self control around other dogs

•fearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs

•are owned by people who want to be left alone

READ MORE…..

I LOVE her material! I know there a lot of  DINOS out there. 2 of our 5 are! So her concepts really resonate with us.

Check out her site. Support her movement. People out there with DINOS need to know they’re not alone. And they shouldn’t be made to feel bad for their dogs preferences. It is NUTS, the kind if response you get when you ask people not to pet your dog. They get downright angry sometimes. Her site has a ton of resources, and awesome gear to empower you, and educate others.

Our queen DINOS: Mabel

Mabel was really bad with strangers. Even as a young dog. It was weird. I had never had a Bully that was bad with people. I didn’t know what to do. So…. I did everything wrong.

I felt really strange telling people not to mess with her, which happened often because she’s cursed with unbearable cuteness. Because I wouldn’t say anything, they would approach. Of course, they would do it in a way a dog would consider rude. Mabel show a ton of signs of not digging it, that I hoped they wouldn’t see, cause I was embarrassed. Then, when all of this culminated in an unwanted handling, Mabel would “communicate”. Of course, I would correct her. And, that sucks for a number of reasons.

1. Correcting a dog in drive takes bigger corrections to get through. And I hate that.

2. Constantly getting corrected every time someone touches her, gives her MORE reason to dislike/distrust people.

3. Me ignoring the signs of discomfort she was offering on the approach, made her feel like she had to handle it on her own. This makes her lose faith in my ability to protect her, and tells her she needs to protect herself. Which then puts a huge tailspin on pack structure in the house, and leads to all sorts of behavior problems.

It really is ridiculous how easy it is to fix.

“Hey! Don’t touch my dog.” That’s it.

I began to pay attention to my dog. I realized those signals of discomfort were her asking me for help. So I did.

I would have people stop approaching when I realized she was getting uncomfortable. And at the beginning, that was about 20 yards.

But you know what….. After a while she had faith in me. That I would protect her. And, they would have to get a lot closer to shake her faith. I then earned more trust at that distance. And closer and closer.

And now I can put Mabel in a down and people can literally step over her and she doesn’t care.

Why? Cause I have earned her absolute trust.

She KNOWS, beyond all doubt, that I WILL NOT LET THEM TOUCH HER!

She has learned that I will pay attention to her, and I will protect her. So she finally can relax, and not be the Sheriff.

The DINOS gear makes it way easier to get this across to people. And, the cuteness softens the blow a little. So, owning a DINOS myself, I fully recommend their merchandise.

If you have a DINOS….. keep us in mind. We specialize in them! We prefer them! Our services were designed with them (you) in mind!

We will walk/work, sit your DINOS! It’s our pleasure.

 

Who Rescued Who?

I’m actually not being cliche. Science suggests this is an actual question now!

The common theory is that we humans saw these canines scavenging around the outskirts of our fire eating the bones that we were tossing over our shoulder. We noticed this and used our immense intelligence to “train and domesticate” them.

Well, a scientist has recently done a paper suggesting that it was far more of a co-evolution. As in, we both learned symbiotically from each other at first. Clearly our intelligence let us eventually manipulate ourselves into the prime position with dogs, but I think the first part of our relationship was much more partnership oriented.

This is the abstract for the paper:

Dogs and wolves are part of the rich palette of predators and scavengers that co-evolved with herding ungulates about 10 Ma BP (million years before present). During the Ice Age, the gray wolf, Canis lu- pus, became the top predator of Eurasia. Able to keep pace with herds of migratory ungulates wolves be- came the first mammalian “pastoralists”.

Apes evolved as a small cluster of inconspicuous tree- dwelling and fruit-eating primates. Our own species separated from chimpanzee-like ancestors in Africa around 6 Ma BP and– apparently in the wider context of the global climate changes of the Ice Age–walked as true humans (Homo erectus) into the open savanna. Thus an agile tree climber transformed into a swift, cursorial running ape, with the potential for adopting the migratory life style that had become essential for the inhabitants of the savanna and steppe. In the absence of fruit trees, early humans turned into omnivorous gatherers and scavengers. They moved into the steppe of Eurasia and became skilled hunters. Sometime during the last Ice Age, our ancestors teamed up with pastoralist wolves. First, presumably, some humans adopted the wolves’ life style as herd followers and herders of reindeer and other hoofed animals. Wolves and humans had found their match. We propose that first contacts between wolves and humans were truly mutual, and that the subsequent changes in both wolves and humans are understood best as co-evolution.

Very interesting. The paper (coevolution03) is long, and, of course, “sciencey”. But, if you can deal with reading things like that you should check it out. There are some very cool concepts in it that may change your view on our relationships with dogs.

Definitely changes the human centric view that we in our superiority, rescued the dog from its unfortunate wildness.

Kind of begs the question:

Who did rescue who?

In Defense Of Bully Breeds

At Three Bad Bullies, we don’t deal exclusively with Pit Bulls or their derivatives. But, we are certainly HUGE advocates seeing as how almost all the dogs in are personal pack are Bulls!!! And while we work with ALL breeds, we spend a fair amount of energy trying to change public opinion on these often misunderstood dogs.

The one thing we hear over and over again is:

“You can’t override the dogs breeding! They were bred to fight/bite and that’s what they will do no matter what, it’s in their genes.” 

Well, to that I say:

1. Cum hoc, ergo proctor hoc!

If the fact that the dog was bred to fight is what caused the attack, how do you explain dog attacks from non fighting breeds? Ah….. There can be several causes, and you have just selected this one because it suits your fancy. Your logic is flawed. You suck. Learn to debate properly and try again later.

2. I agree with you.

100’s of years of genetic programming is almost impossible to override. Sure, in some limited cases the dogs can be born with NONE of the traits of the breed…. but it’s sheer silliness to assume that they are all like that. And yeah, in SOME extreme cases a dog that does have the typical traits can be TRAINED/MADE to behave differently….. But really, do most people that own these dogs really do that? Yeah I don’t think so either. So….. why do I think Pits are safe and you don’t? Well, you see, it’s because I’m not ignorant. And I don’t mean that in an inflammatory way. I mean I actually know what I’m talking about, and you are lacking all the facts. You see the statement “These dogs are bred to bite/fight” is accurate, but incomplete. It should say “these dogs were bred to bite/fight OTHER DOGS, and NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PEOPLE”. Hmmm, that’s a little different, isn’t it.

Let me say now that I am VIOLENTLY opposed to dog fighting. But, I grew up around it (this is why I’m such an activist now). I will use my unfortunate upbringing to shine some light on the selective pressures that actually shaped the breed. Here are some of the reasons why people aggressive pits were not tolerated.

1. Dog fights are illegal events attended by unsavory types, clearly willing to break the law. This means “rule” infractions, are not petitioned to a commission. Things are dealt with quick and harsh.

2. Before a fight, The opposing handlers wash each others dogs. This makes sure there is nothing weird in the coat that would affect the fight, it also lets them know that they will be safe in the Pit with the others dog. If a dog bites one of the opposing handlers, it will most likely get shot, and the handler will forfeit the fight and all the money.

3. In the pit during the fight, there are three people; each dogs handler, and a “ref”. If a dog “turns” (shies away), or are fanged (tooth hung up and cannot re-grip), they dogs are separated. This is not done with verbal commands, they are physically separated. Which means everyones hand in between these two dogs…. And again, if a dog bites any body. Dog’s goes down, you lose all your money.

4. And ALL of this bite inhibition before the fight is displayed in a place that not just sounds and smells like dogs fighting. But, is filled with tense, ill behaved, aggressive people. Imagine the vibe and the dog is expected to bite NO ONE! Then, even during a fight that could be life or death the dog is expected to bite NO PEOPLE, EVER!

So yeah, you’re right you can’t override genetics. The dogs were for hundreds of years designed to be non threatening to humans even under the worst of conditions. And guess what, they aren’t. They are great around kids because they were bred TO NOT BITE PEOPLE, to posses a crazy high pain tolerance, and have no fear. All of which means that they don’t bite when a kid pokes them in they eye, or steps on their tail, or makes some dumb ass noise that would scare a poodle. For Pete’s sake many experienced guard dog trainers actively recommend not using Pits as guard dogs because it’s not in their nature to be “man biters”.

I know, there are a lot of Pit Bull “type” dogs in the news attacking people. But you know what, It’s humans beings fault. Not the dog. These dogs you hear about are bred ON PURPOSE to deviate from the people loving nature of the real Pit Bull. Or, they are neglected and abused to the point where they are mentally unsound and become dangerous. But it’s our fault, not theirs. They are not that way normally.

Yes, Pits are naturally aggressive with other dogs, and you have to be lucky, or a very good trainer to have that not be the case. If you have a Bully, you may be in for lifelong Dog Aggression Management (Check out our links). But aggressive to people….. Nope. Goes against every fiber in their being.

So please, continue to say that their genetics determine their behavior, and it’s almost impossible to get it out of them. You prove my side of the argument every time you do. You’re just too ignorant to realize it.

Please help us educate.

Save these dogs from our ignorance.

-Jay

Restless Spirit: Mike D’Abruzzo

This is written by Mike D’Abruzzo of Self Help Dog Training. I think he sums up the need that dogs have for exercise as a therapy modality well. Read this, and when you’re convinced that you have to help your dog find that fulfillment, let us know. We will send over the coach they need to succeed!

Restless Spirit:  by Mike D’Abruzzo

One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to solving canine behavior problems and getting the most balance from your dog as possible is the restless spirit. The restless spirits of dogs are among the main reasons why I have a secure job solving these problems of imbalances today. Although, if you put me in a time warp and sent me back in time about 150 years I would have a near impossible task at making a living at this profession. Why is that?

Before I can answer that, you need to know what restless spirit even is. Restless spirit is the inner force within the dogs that nags them with a desire to do the work of which is natural to their heritage.

Some examples:

1.      Huskies generally have a strong desire to roam and historically are most balanced when allowed to pull a sled across many miles of territory.

2.      Great Pyrenees generally have a strong desire to defend and are most balanced with a flock and territory to protect.

3.      Most Terriers have a strong prey kill drive and are most balanced when allowed to find and kill prey animals such as mice, rats, and other vermin.

Now, back to why there were less behavioral problems, and I’d be out of a job, 150 years ago. Simply, a much higher percentage of dogs were actually doing the mentally satisfying jobs to which they have been selectively bred to do. Since that time, dogs have slowly moved out of the fields and into the homes and onto the furniture and beds. Basically, collecting an unemployment check in the form of dog kibble and focusing their working drives toward anything that seems to quiet that nagging restless spirit. Most dogs don’t know what their true purpose is, but seem to gravitate toward activities that seem to be in the right direction.

Examples:

1.      Huskies selectively bred to pull a sled toward the vast unknown, may satisfy this desire by escaping from the yard and roaming beyond the neighborhood (sometimes beyond the county!).

2.      Flock Guardian breeds such as Great Pyrenees that find themselves without a flock and pasture to defend may find a job in being overprotective of the children and yard.

3.      Small Terriers without vermin to hunt may find themselves obsessing about squirrels on walks or the children’s hamster cages.

There are still dogs out their doing work. But, I don’t remember the last time I got a call from an Eskimo about their escaping husky, or a police officer about their k9’s problem of chasing cars in his neighborhood, or a shepherd who’s working collie is chasing and nipping his children’s ankles… make sense? I don’t get these types of calls because these types of dogs already have a job, so it is unnecessary to channel and waste their energy on poor substitutes and therefore there is very low incidence of complaints by owners of true working dogs.

READ MORE……

Tug…. The Right Way

Everyone has advice on playing tug with your dog.

Some say never do it at all, because it encourages aggressiveness.

Some say it’s ok to do it with some dogs, but not dogs that are dominant, because they will learn it’s ok to challenge you.

But then there are a whole slew of professionals that use tugs to create amazing obedience.

So…. What’s the deal?

Here’s how I see it.

They’re right. Both of them.

The problem is, that most people play tug with their dogs without rules, or purpose. They let the dog start the game. Half the time they let the dog pick the toy. They HOLD the toy while the dog tugs (cause it’s way easier). And, They let the dog either stop when it’s bored, or they get frustrated when they try to end the game because they can’t get the dog to let go. This is bad, because if the dogs pick the toy and are able to start when they want, sometimes they pick your sleeve. If they get bored, then it isn’t exciting enough to be used for an obedience reward. And, if they don’t “out” the toy on command, you have a problem. Either, they don’t think you’re in charge and they don’t have to listen to you. Or, they KNOW they need to let go, and they want to….. But they have no impulse control, and they are too excited to comply. Both are bad.

If you play tug “right” it can be an AMAZING way to exercise your dog (and you!). It can tremendously reinforce pack structure. And if you do it often, you can develop a great reward that your dog will work for! That’s why so many Law Enforcement Dog Trainers use toys to motivate their dogs. They learn that you control resources. They learn they you are the source of fun! And what I think is the most important thing……. They learn impulse control!

If they are super driven for a toy, but they can see it waved around in front of them WITHOUT biting it…… That translates to other things that they may want to put in their mouths but DON’T because you said not to. How important does that seem?! Especially for power breeds, or dominant dogs.

In order for tug to be all beneficial, and not cause bad behavior, there must be some clear rules.

Now there are a lot of different trainers out there advocating different styles of tug play that all have a different twist on them. But they all have a few rules in common:

1. You start (and stop) the game.

2. You don’t “give” the dog the toy. The need to go after it.

3. You need to make the game fun. If you just hold the toy, the dog learns that them yanking on things is fun. YOU aren’t fun….. Things are fun. And the point isn’t that they love to play with toys. The point is that they love to play with YOU with the toy.

4. They Should not bite you, or your clothes! (that one should be obvious)

5. You should be able to calmly say out and have them release the toy on one command, and end the game.

Here’s a couple of examples of  trainers doing it well. They are my two favorites of all the tug advocates I’ve seen. They are:

Michael Ellis Video

(this isn’t embedded because the poster disabled it. But, it’s worth clicking. It’s a GREAT example of what solid tug work looks like)

And Ivan Balabanov

(The only one I could find was in German! Apparently, good English footage of quality tug trainers is hard to find without buying the DVDs)

DVD’s and the internet are awesome resources. And if you have to teach yourself I would suggest one of these guys.

But If you’re interested in the way I do tug….

Let ME show you how!!!!

 

Phin And Graf’s Canine Outward Bound

Saturday, we had a GREAT Canine Outward Bound half day.  First, we got Phin- A SUPER high energy 6 month old female herding dog mix. Inexhaustible is a good description.  Because her energy is so high, her owners have a difficult time getting her out as much as they’d like.  And while not dangerous in any way…… She is a handful!  Then we added Graf. A very timid 1.5 year old Schnauzer. Great dog, just VERY shy. No confidence. Scared, but extremely loving.  Both are described by their owners as tense, or nervous around other dogs.  Phin has no people issues. Graf was described as not aggressive, but not very trusting.

So…. Today’s adventure was geared towards not just physical exercise, but getting them comfortable around strange dogs, people, and situations.  We started with a few short individual walks with each pup. Then they were walked together but on separate sides to allow them time to acclimate to the other dogs presence, and see that we’re running the show and the other dog is no threat.  Pretty soon we have them walking together on the same side. Awesome. Goal one down.

Their comfort level told us it was time to hit the trail so we headed out on the Riverton Trolly Trail, on the Portland Trail System. It’s a great trail with tons of staircases, and bridges, and crazy castle looking rock walls.

Lots of stuff to challenge these pups environmental issues. They did awesome!!!!

Got along great. Handled every challenge with growing confidence. And, Graf even started to let some of his personality out.

Next we went indoors. Today we worked inside at The Academy, a martial arts school in Portland (we happen to own it, conveniently). This gives us room to work and play around a lot of distractions and challenging obstacles.

We did Agility with these guys for a while. Now I don’t mean jumping over crap randomly. I mean, finding things that are a little intimidating, and then getting them through their fear. We also use this to reinforce the relationship. As in we go over this thing because I say we do, AND, you don’t get down until you’re dismissed.

Just like people, when they face fears and come out the other side….. they develop confidence!

And that’s exactly what happened. This obstacle that was so intimidating in the beginning, just became this neat thing to play on and around when they earned some free time.

Oh yeah, did I mention that these two now play freely with each other and us. Full of confidence. Zero timidity!

After a little free time, we ended the night with one last challenge….

The treadmill!

Now Phin is a treadmill pro, as her owners had taken my advice already and worked on that with her.

But Graf…… For Graf, this was the crowning moment.

All the work we put in earlier really paid off! After just the slightest hesitation, he was on it and running. He’s a new little man.

He even jumped on it later and looked at me like “Ok, lets do it again!”.

Since it was only a half day session it was already time to let these guys go back home.

New dog friends. New people friends. And a new confidence that comes with conquering new experiences!

And did we mention tired?

Like what you see…. Book your dogs Canine Outward Bound Adventure today!

We Work Out Together!

Here’s a pic of our pack’s morning. After our morning walk/jog/CaniCross, we hit the garage. The weights in the front are for my workout…… The weights on the sled is for them to do weight pull after their rest break. The treadmill…… That, we all use! Good stuff!

Weights in the front are for me…… On the sled is the pups!

3 Bad Bullies Out For A Walk

Yep, These are the monsters we named this gig after. You have no idea how much work went in to that picture. I don’t mean posing it. I mean making it possible. Mabel’s 6 week in-house rehab under a professional behaviorist. Milo and Bella’s own obedience work. Tight pack structure protocols at the house. And finally, working leash manners with all individually one right after the other. Eventually, integrating two at a time, shortening the distance between until they were together. Then repeating with the third, until I can walk them all on my own through distractions!

Bottom to top: Milo, Mabel, Bella

Lot of work? Yeah.

Worth it? Absolutely.

Don’t feel like dealing with it? Let us do it!

Roberts Farm CaniCross Oct 20th!

We did this race last year with Milo and it was a blast! Not as crowded as the Pineland Farm CaniCross, so maybe a bit less intimidating for a beginner. If your dog is environmentally unsound, or dog/people aggressive this obviously isn’t a smart thing to try without planning! But, have hope. With a solid training plan, you can get any dog through almost anything. Mabel, our resident dog aggressive queen, has done two so far without incident. But that was no accident. We worked long and hard to get to that point. All our dogs have a solid exercise program, obedience work, and pack structure. So, we use events like this as a training, or “proofing” exercise. It’s more mentally challenging for them than physically hard. So it will be a big day for us. We’ll be running 4 Bullies there (our 3, plus Jackson the foster). Not sure how we’ll set it up. Mandy with Bella, and me with the other 3, or maybe two teams of two? We’ll have to see when get there how everyone’s energy is. Either way…. will be fun!
If you’d like your difficult/hyper dog to get into the pulling sports…… Just get in touch with us, and we’ll get them to WORK! -Jay

Dogs and their owners participate in the 5K race at Roberts Preserve in Norway last year. Another race is set for Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Norway center.

(Here’s a little write up on the race from the Sun Journal)

A 5k run for fit dogs and fit owners, and mushers is set for 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, at Roberts Farm Preserve. It will be held after the season finale time 5k run series on the grass trail at the preserve on Roberts Road.

There will also be a 2K dog walk with proceeds benefiting Responsible Pet Care’s new animal shelter campaign.

READ MORE……..

Your partners in dealing with your difficult, hyper, or aggressive dogs.