Tag Archives: Jay Jack

Missed Thanksgiving Because Of The Dog

Listen, I’m not bagging on you. I was you. Hell, I AM you.

We can’t leave town. Not unless we take an RV and put all five dogs in that bad boy!

Look, I know there are a lot of people out there who are totally bummed today because they had to tell their family they couldn’t come to Thanksgiving……. Because of the dog.

It’s a brutal situation. You can’t take Sparky to the boarding place cause he get’s pissy with people he doesn’t know. Especially if they act scared. And, you can’t ask anyone to come over and watch him because when you aren’t there, he just paces, and barks, and drives everyone nuts. Of course, he does like your sister….. But she’s going to Thanksgiving.

So, here you sit, with your piece of shit Hungryman turkey dinner.

And your dog.

Who you love…… And, who you’re really, really annoyed at.

Next time call us. We’ll come over and handle you’re little bundle of difficult.

And you, can see your family.

Happy Thanksgiving.

CaniCross &….. Whitewater Safety?

Um…. Ok.

What the hell do those two things have to do with each other?

Turns out, the what to do when all hell breaks loose is pretty much the same for both.

When I went rafting a long time ago, one of the safety tips they gave was, “if you fall out of the boat; try to go down river face up, and feet first!”

Yesterday I was running a team of two bullies, who (between the two of them) weighed about 150 lbs, and can pull around 3,000-4,000 lbs! I had them at Poland Springs Preservation Park. Which is an awesome place for reactive dogs. The trails are super cool! And to top it off….. there’s almost no one ever there! It’s so dead, that I’m not even gonna hotlink it to a map like I usually would, cause I don’t want to run into you with the goobers I take there!

But, I digress…..

On the trail, these two monsters were helping me pick up speed going DOWN a hill, and I hit a patch of mud hidden just under a layer of wet leaves. After sliding like 10 feet and flapping my arms like a bird didn’t work……. I remembered my whitewater safety course. So yeah, Nestea Plunge I went.

And just like in whitewater safety it took like 50 yards before I came to a stop! Yeah….. They pulled my down the hill with me making a high speed mud angel.

Now, to their credit they probably would’ve stopped sooner, but it took me like 40 yards to stop laughing uncontrollably at the absurdity of the whole thing.

So, remember….. In whitewater safety AND in Canicross, feet first & face up!

New Toy!!!!


3 Bad Bullies just got our hands on a brand new Kickbike Cross Max!

These things scream to be pulled by dogs. They are stable, and have shocks like a mountain bike. So, they can totally handle off road rough housing. But, they’re super easy to step off of if things get squirrely….. Which, with dogs pulling you off road, can sometimes happen. That’s the main difference for the dog sports. Bikes are hard to get off of at speed. But these are a little less sketchy feeling.

Anyway, We just added one to our arsenal of Canine Exercise Therapy equipment.

If you want to get your dog in on the action….. Give us a call. We’ll run ’em for you!


Sapolsky: Science Of Reward

Dr. Robert Sapolsky is the coolest scientist EVER!

Although, most of his research is applied to understanding humans……

The science is taken from, and can be applied to all animals. Obviously, we’re looking at how this science can be applied to understanding canine behavior. If you have any spare time google and watch ANY of his stuff. If I knew teachers like this as a kid, I may have made it out of Junior High.

I’ve been into Sapolsky for a few years now but this particular clip I found on Tyler Muto’s (one of my favorite trainers) blog.

Roberts Farm CaniCross: Nov 18th!

Roberts Farm Trail Preserve is putting on another CaniCross. It’s on Sun, Nov 18th. It’s at 9am. Registration is over at 8:30am.

Noocksak Racing usually has a booth at these races so it’s a great time to meet them and get some gear!

I just found out about it, so I’m trying to adjust my schedule to get it in!

But if you’re remotely into this idea, you should try and get down there and support it. Participate, or just watch! The more people that are there, the more likely they are to have more of these events!


3 Bad Bikjoring Bullies

We officially adopted Jackson (the little brindle/blue bull with cropped ears you see in a lot of our photos). And, because I plan on doing a lot of sledding/skijoring this winter, I need to get him up to speed!

Off to the trails we go!

Oh yeah!

There’s about 3/4 of a mile of a deep sand shoulder on our road, that intersects with a snowmobile trail right next to our house! How’s that for convenient?

Bella was out with Mandy and a clients Hyper pup. But with the addition of Jackson….. I still had a 3 dog crew!

This clip was at about 1.5 miles of the pull. As you can see, Jax is not running on his neckline, which is letting him squirt around a bit. As new as he is to this, the neck line pulling him forward can set off his opposition reflex, and make him put on the brakes. So I let him get comfortable.

Once he got going good (about a 2/3rds of the way today), I stop and attach his neck line to get him acclimated. As you can see the front dogs don’t have a neckline on. But, that’s because they’re pretty experienced, and don’t stray much. I only run them on a neck line when we’re going to be in a distracting environment, and I need the “group” movement to encourage each individual to stay with the flow. They’re fine with the neckline, so it wasn’t important to add it, like with Jax. As you can see in this clip, he’s on the neckline and doing just fine!

Of course, they’re noticeably slower in the second clip. That’s because A- they’re tired, it is about 3 miles in. And, B- That is the sandy beach of a shoulder. And they’re pulling about 250 lbs between me and the mountain bike! So you’d be slowing down too!

Welcome home little buddy. You’re the fourth bad bully!

I’ll keep posting his progress. I’m REALLY looking forward to running a kicksled with a 4 dog bully crew, on a packed snowmobile trail!!!!

That….. Will be an adventure.


No Love For Skinner

Quick….. Word association:

Pavlov= Bell. Saliva. Conditioning. Reactions.

Skinner= ________…….. (sounds of crickets)……….

Yeah, that’s what most people do too.

B. F. Skinner. Figured out the other conditioning. Not the “ring a bell- make you salivate” of Classical Conditioning fame. But the WAY less understood “Operant Conditioning”.

Obviously, you can read the links and research this stuff, but I’ll try to break it down.

Classic Conditioning changes how you “react”. (pair a song with something scary enough, and they’ll get scared when they hear it)

Operant Conditioning changes how you “act”. (you can teach a mouse to touch a lever to get food, even though cheese is right in front of them)

The tricky part comes into play in the fact that they both have the others effect eventually. Changing how you feel about something effects how you decide to behave. Doing a rewarding behavior enough times will effect how you feel about that behavior.

Uh oh….. I said “reward”. Crap. I opened a can of worms.

The biggest problem in researching/talking about dog training, or behavior modification, is the “operant conditioning quadrants”

It looks like this:

Now, here the Positive and Negative are more about the “blood test” type of thing. As in Positive means that thing is there, and negative means that thing is not there. But everyone gets hung up in the “feeling” definition of those words. As in positive is good, and negative is bad. The problem is in the most used and understood quadrant (+R), it can be used both ways. Giving a treat to encourage a behavior, is “positive” in the “added to” sense, and also “positive” in the “feel good” sense. But that’s where it falls apart. Because +P (spanking a dog for ex), is positive in the scientific “added to” sense, and definitely negative in the “feelings” department.

So, clearly, I don’t think posts out ahead of time. Because what started as an informative post is turning into the friendship shattering discussion of reward/punishment in training!
Good sense tells me not to write this as it is kind of divisive. In dog training (and people training!) which method to use, and how to use them, starts as many fights as politics or religion.

But, since I care more about knowledge than people liking me, I’ll just go ahead and throw this at you.

There is no such thing as “purely positive” in the feel good sense. Everyone just loves to say that. “we use only positive techniques”, We use only reward based training”. There is no such thing.

For there to be light, there must be dark. That Ain’t my rule. That’s nature. Like it or not, you’re using punishment.

Look at the quadrant again. The diagonal is what’s important. If you use +R, you MUST also be using -P! There’s no way around it. When doing purely positive training,  you say “sit” and the dog lies down you say “no…. Sit” and the dog lies down you DON”T GIVE THE FOOD! That’s punishment. -P, but punishment all the same. Honestly, it just makes you feel less guilty. Here’s the rub: when you ask a “reward only” person what to do if your dog isn’t that food motivated….. Oh, that’s easy. Train before feeding. Or reduce their food to increase “motivation”. Really? Wow. The thing is, it’s all in your focus and intention. If you tell your kid “get a good grade and mommy will be sooo proud”, “get a bad grade, and I’ll be soo disappointed”. You’ve essentially said the same thing. One just feels better because of your focus and intention.

What about the other diagonal. Yes, if you use +P,  you are also using -R. This is the classic “the beating will continue until morale improves” mindset. Look at abused spouses. The reward is not getting pounded. Obviously, this works, but doesn’t build the best relationships. But, we aren’t talking specific examples of the +P concept. We’re talking the concept itself. Which I use all the time. And before you act like I’m an abusive asshole….. Bear in mind….. SO DO YOU.

Yeah, that’s right I said it. You….. With your clicker and hot dogs…… You use +P!!!!!!

Shut, up. Yes you do.

Ever gotten a stern tone and posture, and said “NO” to your dog?

Yep. +P. You added a bad thing, to prevent that action from continuing.

To a dog you were one step from “touching” them.

Dogs warn in this order:

Stillness (the freeze warning)- Pressure (a hard look, lip lifting, or leaning/moving towards you)- Sound (growling)- Touch (muzzle punch, or warning touch)- Attack (try to hurt you)

You froze. Gave pressure. And, made a sound. They stopped to avoid a touch.

You didn’t mean to, but you added (+), the implied threat pf physical violence to stop an action.

See the problem isn’t with the science. The problem is with our understanding.

And our identity. Soft people will “never” use any punishment. And Napoleonic tough guys think reward training is for sissies.

We all use all of them in one form or another.

The issue is do we understand how. Obviously, you want to de-emphisise all Punishments. You CAN”T not use them, but it’s healthier for the relationship if you emphasize the rewarding part of the diagonal that your using.

You should be aware of all your interactions when you teach. Because, you can’t minimize what you don’t realize you’re doing! Understand the quadrants! Understand how they play together. Realize that punishment in your training is a reality you can’t do anything about. Be AWARE of the punishments you use. Try to focus on punishment little as possible.

ALWAYS try to focus on or stay in the R half.

NEVER punish without intending too. That’s irresponsible.

NEVER punish more than is necessary. It makes them not trust you, and it makes you an asshole.

NEVER punish (+ or -) out of frustration/anger. That’s abuse.

Well. There it is. I picked a fight. My only saving grace may be that no one reads this blog. Guess we’ll see.

Feel free to comment. I’ll respond.

Winter Dog Sports

I was born and raised in Louisiana. So, I find very few redeeming qualities about snow, and winter. My kicksled is my attempt at the whole lemons/lemonade thing. Running a sled with dogs is damn near the only thing that gets me through winter! Here’s some inspiration I was looking at to get me through this grey, grey Maine morning.

Now, when snow hits, and your dog is amped beyond belief, and needs an outlet, and you can’t seem to get yourself out in that snow….

Call us, we’ll come take them sledding!!!!!