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

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.

 

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!

Register Now! Scent Games Vehicles Specialty Class

Penny nose workOur next series of Scent Games classes will begin on April 27th. The vehicles specialty class is designed to further refine your dogs skills. Ultimately the goal is to tap into his natural “hunting” skill. Learn more about this upcoming class and register by heading on over to our class page!

Questions? Comment below or send us a message via our contact form

Scent Games!

Kudos for Canines is thrilled to announce our BRAND NEW Nose Work Style classes available beginning April 2015!

Scent games are a great opportunity to play with your dog and see them working a sport that comes naturally to them!

Dogs are known for their keen sense of smell. According to a paper from Alabama & A&M Universities cooperative extension program, dogs have more than 220 million olfactory receptors, while humans have around 5 million*. Incredible!

There are even current medical studies ongoing to discover ways in which a dogs keen sense of smell could help detect certain types of diseases.

In our scent games class, your dog will be introduced to a game that will work their minds as well as their bodies. You will learn how to read your dog’s body language and the homework will challenge your imagination!

During our initial class your dog will learn to search for food treats in a variety of environments ranging from easy to quite challenging. In later classes we will switch the odor they search for to a specific scented oil (Birch, aka Betula Lenta).

Classes will be held beginning Tuesday April 7th, 2015 at 6:00 pm and 7:30 pm. Each class has an absolute maximum of 6 dogs. Classes will run 1 hour long each Tuesday evening for 6 weeks in length.

More information and class registration will be available online very soon!

* Information from The Dog’s Sense of Smell

Doggone Safe Bite Prevention Program Now Available

Doggone Safe member logo 2015PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release

Normal, IL, February 8, 2015 – Doggone Safe is a non-profit organization dedicated to dog bite prevention through education, and dog bite victim support. Doggone Safe member [Your Name] is making the “Be a Tree” educational programs available in [your area]. The “Be a Tree” program is an innovative and interactive dog bite prevention education program aimed at primary grade children. Half of all children are bitten by a dog by the time they are 12 years old. Dog bites are considered to be a serious public health problem by the American Veterinary Medical Association and by the Canada Safety Council. Most bites are by the family dog or other dog known to the child and can be prevented through education. Both children and adults can benefit from understanding dog body language and knowing how to act in situations involving dogs.

The “Be a Tree” program is available in communities across Canada and the US and is delivered by Doggone Safe presenters, veterinary technicians, dog trainers, dog behaviorists, public health nurses, emergency medical services personnel, animal control officers, police officers, teachers and humane educators. Presenters use a teacher kit produced by the company Doggone Crazy! which contains large format photographs showing dog body language signs. The script is written on the back of each photograph for convenient reference. The kit also contains games and activities and can be supplemented with learning materials such as coloring books, paint sheets, a story book, poster, stickers, bookmarks and fridge magnets. These materials can be branded with a sponsor’s logo to allow local companies to become involved with community dog bite prevention.

“The Be A Tree program is fun and terrific. The kids and teachers loved it”, said Jennifer Shryock – Dog Bite Prevention Educator and Dog Behavior Specialist – Family Paws – North Carolina.

“I believe your program [Be a Tree] is the best dog bite prevention program available”, said Sherri Utter – Retired Elementary School Teacher, Animatch Volunteer – Quebec.

Children learn to read dog body language and how to act safely around dogs by looking at large format photographs and by playing interactive games. The Be a Tree program is unique in its use of several different teaching strategies, its focus on physical activity and its emphasis on positive messages. Instead of telling children “don’t do this and don’t do that”, the Be a Tree program empowers them with the knowledge they need to make safe decisions based on the body language and the actions of the dog and the situation at hand. The central message of the program is “Be a Tree” (stand still and quiet and don’t look at the dog) if a strange dog approaches or any dog is causing concern or becoming too frisky.

“Experts agree that public education has an important role to play in reducing dog bite risk to children, and the Be a Tree program is one of the ways Doggone Safe is contributing”, said Joan Orr, president of Doggone Safe.

Doggone Safe is well regarded in the humane education community and all materials were created and reviewed by experts. The Be a Tree program is endorsed by The Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT) and Doggone Safe bite prevention educational materials are used in the programs of many humane societies and by dog bite prevention educators across the US and Canada.

The Be a Tree program is available in Bloomington/Normal through Lisa Paul of Kudos for Canines. Lisa is an expert in dog training and offers group and private dog training and consulting services as well as the Doggone Safe education programs. For additional information about Doggone Safe or to get information about becoming a Be a Tree program sponsor please visit the Doggone Safe website at www.doggonesafe.com, call 1-877-350-3232 or email doggonesafeinfo@doggonesafe.com.

About Doggone Safe
Doggone Safe is a non-profit corporation registered in Canada and Ontario, with offices in Canada and the US. Doggone Safe’s mandate includes dog bite prevention through education and dog bite victim support. Educational seminar programs offered by Doggone Safe are Be a Tree™ (for school-aged children), and Be Doggone Smart at Work™ (for workers who come into contact with dogs on the job)