Keeping your hot dog cool

Copper was diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis about a year or so ago. It means that he can’t breathe as easily as he used to, he’s also at higher risk of aspiration. The big fallout, from our competition perspective, is that his temperature regulation sucks. Yes, he gets hot, mouth breathes a whole bunch and when he’s panting his scenting goes to hell. Not a good situation for a Nose Work dog.

I wanted to share some things that I’m learning about keeping our competition dogs cool.

If you think that your dog is starting to get a bit warm, you should have started cooling them down two hours ago. Taking your warm dog into a search area and asking them to scent is going to heat them up faster than an A-bomb going off. It’s too late. If you have other searches to do, later in the day, you may be able to save them, but it’s too late for this search.

Copper historically had pretty decent heat tolerance. Now, if I ask him to search outside – and it’s above 45 degrees – he’s going to heat up fast.

I was recently at the Rocky Mount, MO trial and the high of the day got up to 65 degrees. The weather was spectacular. I wanted to share these videos. When you watch them, look at how far open his mouth is from his first search of the day (the outside patio) to the second search of the day (the inside gym). Neither were overly warm, but I SHOULD have immediately implemented cooling strategies the moment we returned to the car from the Patio search. My mistake, and an expensive one points-wise.

Patio search – https://youtu.be/U0luoZxU2Us
Gym search – https://youtu.be/xDbWiosAX4w

After we’d crashed and burned on the gym search (we’d been given a range of 3-8 and we’d only found two) I implemented our cooling strategies. Here’s what I did:

  • Put a fan on him. These Ryobi fans are the fans of choice. Expensive, but worth it. Get the bigger batteries for it too, as they last a LOT longer. https://www.ryobitools.com/products/details/18v-one-plus-hybrid-fan
  • Pulled out his cooling coat (essentially a huge chamois soaked in water) and put it on him. I’ve had his cooling coat so long that I don’t remember exactly where I bought it. It’s a bit oversized, but that worked just fine for us. Do a Google search and you’ll find a few different types.
  • Pulled his thick foamy bedding out of his crate and had him lying on a yoga mat – not as cushiony, and also increases the risk of stiffness, but he’d be a LOT cooler. There are cooling beds available for purchase online too
  • Made sure that he had fresh water and put a few ice cubes in the bowl. Copper is fussy about weird things and won’t eat ice cubes, and I constantly have to nag him to drink. So this time I had pieces of watermelon for him and that worked like a charm. Hydrating him but cooling him.
  • Ensure that there was LOTS of ventilation to his crate. If it’s too hot, you may just have to turn on the car and kick on the A/C. Just make sure that you don’t gas out your neighbor with the exhaust fumes. Also check with your auto mechanic about what this might do to your car, just idling with the A/C running for hours.
  • Put a shade cloth over the vehicle, and the windshield cover in place. Aluminet is the way to go. You can buy it at Clean Run or really big ones here: http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/70-percent-aluminet-shade-curtain/shade-material.  Also, you can buy a WeatherTech windshield sun shade and it works great for the big minivans.

Additional items for you to consider:

If you’re in the market for a new car and know that you’re going to compete, get a white car with beige upholstery. It’s cooler. Full stop. I traded in my dark blue Grand Caravan with black upholstery to my white Grand Caravan with beige upholstery and the difference in interior temperature is unbelievable.

Also think about when are you going to potty your dog. I’m fortunate that Copper is pretty well regulated and is generally not a leg hiker. Though I recommend Pee-Search-Pee, I can get away without doing it with Copper because when he pees, he empties his bladder completely. So when I potty him at a trial site, I do NOT potty him right before our run because I need to keep him cool until the last second. I’ll potty him about 4-5 dogs prior, then cool him back down again.

The last thing that I did was make sure that Copper was wearing his cooling coat until the last possible minute. This helped a lot when a dog puked in a search area right before our turn and we were left in the heat for an extra 2-3 minutes longer than anticipated.

Here was the next search. As you can see, his temperature was back under control. https://youtu.be/QuzKliZ350M

Kudos for Canines has a new home!

Starting with thank you seems most appropriate. So many folks and their eager pups have joined us on this K9 Nose Work journey and we’re thrilled to have a space to call home for ourselves and all of you!

Kudos for Canines
1537 Fort Jesse Rd, Suite A
Normal, Illinois 61761

All the dates for our next K9 Nose Work session are scheduled and the website is now up to date with the class offerings. Take a minute to check out the CLASS LINE UP starting late March and get your team registered! Please note we are offering some 90-minute sessions this time around, allowing for more teams in each class!

With the opening of our brand new space, we’ll now be offering private training. Contact us for details!

 

We still have time, but maybe not enough.

You’d think that one of the hardest parts of dog sports is the crushing failures.  When you set out to do something, then promptly crash and burn because you didn’t know enough, or didn’t think through ALL of the possible ramifications, or the variables required for training a behavior.

That’s not it.  It’s seeing your dogs’ peers grow old and pass away. 

Photo by Angel Sallade Pet Photography

Maybe it’s because many Malinois have the beginnings of a white soul patch by the time they hit a year.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen him almost every day of his 11.5 years…But I don’t look at Copper and think of him as ‘old’. 

The guy still leaps in the air, chases the rabbits (he caught one last year, his first!). I only just retired him from Agility this spring – He was going to kill himself not slowing down for the dog-walk.  He had achieved FIVE Agility Championships.

Copper enters agility retirement after completing his NATCH3 and VNATCH2 (Bernie Doyle Judge)

 

I retired him from Obedience about that time too, but not because he couldn’t do it (though, I’ll admit, at his final trial we used an Exercise Modification to drop the jump height down). 

Copper entering Obedience Retirement after completing his Championship under Sharon Jonas

 

Obedience was always my ‘bag’, and who can blame him since I introduced heeling with old school pop-jerk methods – I shaped every behavior after that with R+!  So, when he got his Obedience Championship, I told him that he never had to ‘Heel’ again.  He’d still love to do it though,  but sadly Obedience requires heeling in ALL the classes.  Maybe one day they’ll come out with a ‘tricks’ only class, that has everything bar heeling.  Until that day…

I know that several of his old Rally buddies have passed away.  Dogs that got us into the sport, which we ended competing neck-to-neck against.  Rally was our first love, our gateway drug to dog sports.   His Obedience career spanned 9 years and overlapped with a lot of his Rally buddies, but some were Obedience only.  When you compete regularly, with the same crowd, sometimes one of the regulars stops coming to a trial, and you can’t help but wonder.

Mary and Herc inspired me to do more. We finished our RAE at the same trial under Donna Darland.

I judge too, so I travel around the Midwest for competitions.  It might be 6 months between seeing dogs and that’s when the aging hits you.  You’ll notice that there’s more grey and maybe they aren’t throwing themselves into it as much as they did six months ago.  Other things will stand out too, the lumps and bumps that most dogs get as they grow older.  Copper even has some too.

This morning I found out that one of his Agility buddies passed away.  In class these two would regularly ramp each other up, so we kept a close watch to avoid an ‘event’ where a bad decision might be made – Agility can be very exciting and can be difficult in a group class.  When you have a herding dog, they generally like organization, and the chaos of other dogs running around, having fun, can sometimes be too much.  We had excellent instructors who knew the issue, were careful and encouraged using R+ methods to work on keeping them calm.  I discovered Control Unleashed which helped me a LOT! 

I’ve been looking after this dog too.  Over the past year, when her mom was out of town, I’d walk her and watch her give the squirrels and bunnies an extra look.  She was fun, sweet and full of character.

It just hits you though.  At any moment you could lose them. 

You also think about your dogs’ litter mates.  To my knowledge, Coppers are all still trundling around the USA, though I know that one of them has ill-health.  I do know that Copper has lost at least one half-brother to cancer – the big ‘C’ that everyone hates in every species.  Copper’s daddy was prolific and pretty popular in his day – A regular stud!  I take comfort knowing that his Mom lived to 15 and his aunt lived to 16.  I remember seeing them when they were about his age and they were pretty spry too. 

All I can say is that every day is special.  Treasure them.  Give them that extra sniff walk they’ve been begging for.

 

Dedicated to Dede

 

“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”

― Richard Adams, Watership Down

News for the New Year!

The holidays are approaching and 2017 will be here before we know it. Are you making plans for 2017? We are!

This Winter we are excited to be offering several more classes in our popular K9 Nose Work series!

Hop on over to our K9 Nose Work Class page to get the details and register for the classes starting in January!

Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Letting go of the guilt

Brain in the Game

Mental Management training is as much a part of everyday life, as it is sports.

Some local K9 Nose Work folks have recently gotten into Mental Management training, and I can see why — in all other dog sports, you can normally see the mistakes as they’re happening; however, in the upper levels of K9 Nose Work, you’ll spend the entire day agonizing over whether you or your dog screwed up in some way (btw, the dog never screws up). Often, you’ll know — you’ll hear the dreaded “No”, from the Judge, signaling that you won’t title (and get your shiny ribbon); but, sometimes you don’t know if something was missed, so you sweat A LOT.

Unfortunately, with my busy schedule, I haven’t had a chance to fit in one of Nancy Reyes’ (our local guru in Chicago) seminars, so I’ve largely been on my own. I did download this book and listen to it on Audible:  The Art of Mental Training by DC Gonzalez

While it’s certainly no replacement to a day or two with Nancy, it has helped give me some insight that I’ve been able to apply, immediately, to all of my clients (whether a “Nose Work” team, or an “At Home” pet).

Letting go of the guilt

One of the reasons I got into dog training was because of bad advice — some trainers thought that dogs “needed a heavier hand”.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s all their fault — we didn’t sufficiently socialize our dog, which led to some problems (he’ll always be territorial of our house, but we have a crate for that).  If we had regular visitors, then I might be able to work on that; but, we don’t — so, it’s not a big issue.  With age, and long term exposure, a certain amount of mellowness has come.  He’s more forgiving of ‘stuff’ than he’s ever been.

For a long time, I was hung up on how we had failed our dogs, in one sense or another. There’s always a better way to train a behavior, or handle a situation.  The problem is that when you’re “in the thick of it”, you don’t always make the best decisions.  Things will spiral out of control — and, the next thing you know, you’ve got a ‘situation’ on your hands.

This is where the book helped me.

I realized that guilt was hampering my forward motion: I would often get stuck in it, and the assorted nasty mental states that come with it.  We’ve all made mistakes, but the best we can do for ourselves (and, more importantly, our dogs) is to learn, and MOVE ON!

Yes, we screw up. We’re human!

Though the book was very much about “staying in the moment”, and “keeping a positive mental outlook”, it also talked about how to deal with events when they go wrong — we will frequently get sucked into the awful vortex of utter crappiness, and NO GOOD can come, from that!

I’m not talking about forgetting that the events ever occurred, but resolving to do better next time. I can honestly tell you that every mistake that we made with our next dog was a completely different mistake (I know, “not a great testimonial”, but it’s true)!

I continue to learn, grow and expand my knowledge base, so that I can help my students and the people who call me, distraught, over the events that somehow unfolded without / beyond their control.

To you, all of you, I’m telling you to “let go of the guilt”.

You’ll be able to move forward.

I’m not promising that it will instantly be better (it may get worse before it gets better) — but, you’ll grow through it, and LEARN!

Chipping your pets alone isn’t good enough

My Dad lives in Florida, nowhere near the hurricane’s path, but he has a dog and it got me thinking about all the pets in Hurricane Matthew’s path.  Which, in turn, got me thinking about my own furkids.  I thought about when was the last time I logged into the Home Again website and updated my dog’s information.  It had been a LONG time.  One password reset later and I found that though my info wasn’t grossly outdated (home address and cell were still accurate), some updates WERE needed.

  • Updated Copper’s photo
  • Added Penny’s photo
  • Added Penny’s breed
  • Updated Vet info for Penny (still showing breeder from 7 years ago – oops!)
  • Updated Penny’s spay status
  • Updated husband’s cell number

If your dog isn’t chipped, then I recommend that you make it a priority and do it as soon as possible.  There is no logical reason to not have your pet chipped, unless there is a serious medical issue preventing it.  The security that I feel, knowing that my dogs are chipped, is significant.  We’ve had several tornado events in Central Illinois over the past years.  I remember hearing about all the missing pets after the Washington tornado.

If your dog is chipped, log into the website and get the information updated today.  Remember that the Washington tornado occurred in mid-November, so just because we’re going into fall it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the crazy-weather-woods yet.

 

October class schedule and ORT pics!

20160924_130620Hard to believe we’re almost into October! Our fall classes that start in the middle and late parts of October are now open for registration. Check out the updates to our website and the class registration page. We’re hoping the new format will help you find the specific classes that are best for your team with a little more ease!

Also, hop over to check out some of the photos from our ORT event that was held in Bloomington on September 24th. It was a fantastic event and thrilling to see so many Kudos teams testing and passing that day! We’ll continue to bring great events like these to the area as we’re able, if you have a specific event you’d like to see, feel welcome to send us a note to let us know via our contact page!

K9 Nose Work Supplies – What to buy and where to buy it?

Since we’ve been teaching K9 Nose Work classes, we’ve had a lot of students ask us what equipment they need. Well, we mentioned in an earlier blog post, we’re big fans of having a specific Nose Work harness or collar.  This doesn’t have to be a particular brand or manufacturer – it just needs to be a piece of clothing that your dog only wears when they are doing Nose Work searches.

Here are some examples of harnesses to check out – A quick Google search should pull them right up:

Copper doing K9 Nose Work on an RV

Copper doing K9 Nose Work on an RV

Brilliant K9

Julius K9

Comfort Flex

Balance Harness

Kong Harness

Shop around, and ask questions (of other classmates, or staff) – find the harness that is the easiest for you to use and the best fit for your dog!

When we introduce ‘Odor’, you’re going to need an Odor Kit. In our classes we use the scents used by NACSW as the target odor:

Birch (“Sweet Birch” aka Betula Lenta)

Anise (“Aniseed” aka Pimpinella Anisum variety – NOT Star Anise, Illicium Verum)

Clove (“Clove Bud” aka Eugenia Caryophylatta or Syzgium Aromaticum)

Be VERY CAREFUL, when shopping, to make sure you get the right kind of scent!

For convenience sake, you may just want to purchase an ‘Odor Kit’. There are a number of places that you can buy your odor kits from, but here are a few for you to check out:

www.allgooddogs.biz

www.thek9nose.com

www.k9nwsource.com

www.paws4fun.net

Keep in mind – read the descriptions of the product, to make sure odor is included (unless you WANT to buy your odor, separately!)

Happy sniffing!

Gearing up for a busy Fall!

trick-672629_1920This last few months has been a whirlwind of time spent training, learning and teaching. Now, we’re staring right at our full lineup of Fall classes and they’ll be here before we know it!

Check out our Class Line up and get registered for one of our August sessions: Continuing K9 Nose Work (8/14), Competition K9 Nose Work ROAD TRIP (8/4), Competition K9 Nose Work (8/14) and Competition Containers in K9 Nose Work (8/14). These classes run for 6 weeks and cost $110. Please make special note of the registration deadlines for each of these classes! 

Attention ORT event participants! We’ve just added an ORT Refresher Course designed to help your team prepare for testing at our event on September 24th. This class is a mini format, running for 3 weeks at a cost of $60!

Registrations for the ORT testing event are filling up quickly but we will continue to accept registrations online and snail mail until 90 spots are filled or on September 9th at noon (whichever comes first)!

All classes will be held at Positive Training (with the exception of ROAD TRIP classes) located at 1103 Martin Luther King Dr, Bloomington, Illinois.

As always, if you have any questions about our class line ups, now, or in the future, please contact us!