Friday, December 7, 2012

Good Dog, Bad Dog...."

 Charlie, my rat terrier, is putting modern day dog trainers to shame.
Shame on you! Thump. Bad trainer! Go lay down! Click, click. Good down! Have a cookie!

I am experimenting on poor Brockle. Not really. Oh, I'm experimenting all right, but simply in how to clean up our communication.  When I see the light go on in his eyes, I know I've got it and I keep that method. If I find an even better one, I keep that on. So I don't really mean, "poor" Brockle, because, if anything, he is becoming multi-lingual.

A few days ago I was experimenting with playing tug-of-war. I already knew it was a dominance game dogs like to play with each other and their owners. I knew it simulated play over a carcass. I also understood the importance of making the dog begin and end the game on my say so.

I had outlawed the game in the house. Jim's balance is precarious and mine can be, depending on the day, so my house has become a quiet zone. No running, jumping, game playing and so forth. Quiet, gentle behavior only, with plenty of ear scratches and back rubs. The same rules apply to the dogs.

Back to tug-of-war...I had read that for everything we teach a dog they need to also learn a counter maneuver. So if I teach sit, I need to teach stand. If I teach "Quiet" I need to teach "Speak." It occurred to me, it would be wise for me to have a command for "Give," since Brockle has a high prey drive and a lightening fast reaction to protect his group. I don't quite have a handle on either of these reactions yet. I might, at some point, want to say "Give" so he'll drop the Chihuahua or mailman.

So I decided we would play tug-of-war in the backyard. I would initiate the game and make him release and quit at my request. Brockle thought this was a great idea. He had no intention of following through on my "We're done!" command though. He slitted his eyes, probably to keep the sun out of his very enlarged pupils, and dug in.

I was going to try something new, which according to my reading, was a much more effective way to train my dog. I held on to the toy, not giving an inch, but not pulling either, stood up straight and looked away.

After a few minutes, it worked.

I said, "Good dog!" and gave him a scratch.

We tried again. I said "Get it!" and the tugging commenced. I said "Give!" stood up, looked away and prepared to wait. Charlie came flying up, slammed all of his 20 muscley pounds into Brockle's shoulder, growled and snapped, and Brockle obediently gave up the toy.

Charlie looked at Brockle with a very clear, "Mind what she says, boy!" and stalked off.

We tried again. I said "Give!' to Brockle, Charlie came flying, hackles up. I said "Off!"to Charlie  this time, he skulked away, Brockle argued for a few minutes and then gave up the toy.

This went on for a while, Brockle got to where he was relinquishing the toy within 30 seconds or so, so I released him from our session and started to head towards the house.

I turned  at the door to watch Brockle play. He was flipping the tug-of-war toy in Charlie's face. Charlie ignored him for a bit, finally got  a weary, aggrieved look in his eye, stood up and grabbed it.

This should be good. Brockle is roughly three times Charlie's size.

The second Charlie felt a tug, he looked Brockle in the eye, growled once, and Brockle IMMEDIATELY dropped the toy.

That's the response I want. Dang it.

Charlie did not say "Good boy!" either. He walked around with the toy, stiff legged and hackles up, for a few seconds then dropped the toy and lay down next to it, with a meaningful glare at Brockle. Brockle looked sad, bounced around and looked cute, then gave up and left.

So yes, I'll keep reading, but I'm going to start paying a lot more attention to Charlie.

Some of my observations so far:

Dogs will lay down dogs to make a point.

Horses do not lay down horses to make their point.

The same people who cry "Animal abuse!" when a trainer lays down a dog, are the first in line at a Ken McNabb clinic to teach their horses to lay down, "because it creates a calm, cooperative state."
I'm confused.

My house has become very calm, very peaceful and very under control since Brockle came. I'm treating them as a group, or a pack, if you will, with me as their leader. Can't tell you if I'm calm, assertive or benevolent. They're learning the same rules Brockle is. They back off and sit when someone comes to the door.
They wait patiently for their meals.
Nobody bothers 9-pound Snocone while she very slowly works through her meals, even though she's the first to be given her food and the last to finish.
All dogs wait at the bottom of the stairs while people go up and at the top while people go down.
All dogs sit quietly to have their leashes put on.
No dog pulls on the leash.
All dogs sit quietly when I take off their leash and wait until I say, "Go play!" to leave.
We don't go for walks, playtime, or eat until all dogs are lying quietly and not staring at me.

I'm not adverse to using treats when what I'm teaching my dogs makes them unsure or nervous. It doesn't make me like treats, I feel like I'm using a crutch to cover up my poor dog handling skills. If I knew what I was doing, they wouldn't get upset. In the meantime, I'll use treats, but I won't be happy until I know why I'm worrying them and stop it.

Dogs feed their puppies. They play with them and tolerate quite a bit of nonsense. They cuddle them.
When the puppies grow up they quit sharing food. They play when it's appropriate, but become much less tolerant. They are still affectionate, but it's much more subtle. Status is made clear before affection happens.
I want my puppies to be puppies and my dogs to be dogs, so I'm going to think about this for a while.

I've got some fun concepts forming, and dog stories building, in the mean time, I'll get back to Tally.


Anonymous said...

I am very interested to see how this turns out. I have dog that I just can't to seem to get a handle on no matter what I do. Keep us in the loop.


Ridgerider said...

I just acquired a copy of "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin. She has a separate section for dogs (and horses, cows, pigs, cats, poultry, and zoo animals). She discusses training techniques and natural behaviors, including comments on what makes animals "happy", citing research papers. I've read through the dog section and am in the middle of the horse section. I think you'd enjoy and get alot of thought-provoking information from this book. I spent some time on her website, too, and think you'd get alot out of it, too:

Ridgerider said...

P.S. also She discusses humane slaughter (cows and pigs), and designs animal handling facilities focused on that end. I wonder what her thoughts would be regarding horse slaughter, and if/how it could be made "humane"...

rheather said...

I use tug to teach give to teach both self restaint and how to moderate arousal.
I don't understand people who just love to wind dogs(and children) up into a frenzy and then get pissed because they're in a frenzy.

And I admit I'll never speak 'dog' as well as another dog. I can give the evil eye pretty well but the tail signals are beyond me. LOL!!!

mugwump said...

Ridgerider...Read and perused, a few years ago.Thanks though!

Holly said...

"I knew it simulated play over a carcass. I also understood the importance of making the dog begin and end the game on my say so."

it also teaches self control and can be used as a reward (instead of food treats). Many, many, many top agility competitors use tug after doing a sequence. Like Susan Garrett. Check this vid out....

"We tried again. I said "Get it!" and the tugging commenced. I said "Give!" stood up, looked away and prepared to wait. Charlie came flying up, slammed all of his 20 muscley pounds into Brockle's shoulder, growled and snapped, and Brockle obediently gave up the toy."

be very very careful with this. Right now Brockle is a young dog who is willing to take correction from the older dog (note I did not say larger/smaller). At some point, he will not and you could have a very ugly dog fight.

"Charlie did not say "Good boy!" either. He walked around with the toy, stiff legged and hackles up, for a few seconds then dropped the toy and lay down next to it, with a meaningful glare at Brockle. Brockle looked sad, bounced around and looked cute, then gave up and left."

In the dog world, ownership is not 70/30, it's 100/100. Whoever has the toy, owns it. It does not matter if they are playing or not, they own it. It does not matter if they are awake or asleep. They own it. When they walk away and don't take it, it's up for grabs.

Remember, your other dogs can teach Brockle dog/dog interactions, but they are not the same as people/dog interactions. Which is not to say you can't *use* that, but what ever you use as your cue to stop/quit/give/not play needs to be consistent. If it's a hard stare or a look away or a disengagement, choose it and Brockle will figure it out.

"Dogs will lay down dogs to make a point."

um no. Dogs voluntarily roll over to a more dominant dog to show appeasement, dogs do not lay down or roll another dog.

"The same people who cry "Animal abuse!" when a trainer lays down a dog, are the first in line at a Ken McNabb clinic to teach their horses to lay down, "because it creates a calm, cooperative state."
I'm confused."

Dog trainers who understand OC, put dogs into a down to stop movment, they don't do it as punishment. They don't "lay down a dog" as in roll them.

Your dogs are waiting for their meals quietly because it works. If they don't wait quietly, they don't get their food. Food, being a primary resource, is important to most dogs.

"We don't go for walks, playtime, or eat until all dogs are lying quietly and not staring at me."

why does it matter if they are staring or not?

Darcy Jayne said...

What Holly said - dogs don't lay down other dogs, they assume a dominant stance/attitude and the other dog may or may not offer a submissive posture. That posture might be something as subtle as a change in facial expression (ears and mouth) or it might be as obvious as exposing the belly.

In dog terms, your little guy is being a bit of a bully - he's 'yelling' at Brockle when it could be that he doesn't have to. But, it's working for him so he'll continue being that loud in his communication to Brockle. Kind of like the mare who kicks at another horse when pinned ears would do.

Just like people, different dogs have different personalities and ways of communicating.

Tug is not just a dominance game. My silly boy brings a toy to me for a game of tug several times a day because it's fun, not because he's trying to be dominant. He still has to relinquish the toy when I tell him to, but that's just good manners and a reminder that I control all the good stuff.

mugwump said...

comment: "be very very careful with this. Right now Brockle is a young dog who is willing to take correction from the older dog (note I did not say larger/smaller). At some point, he will not and you could have a very ugly dog fight."

post: We tried again. I said "Give!' to Brockle, Charlie came flying, hackles up. I said "Off!"to Charlie this time, he skulked away, Brockle argued for a few minutes and then gave up the toy.

Reply:Think I probably had that in mind.

comment:"um no. Dogs voluntarily roll over to a more dominant dog to show appeasement, dogs do not lay down or roll another dog."

reply: Um...dominant dog is usually standing over submissive dog with teeth bared...that's how I define laying one down.I didn't say a word about touching the dog in any way. I don't know how to roll a dog,and don't think I said anything about it.

comment:"Dog trainers who understand OC, put dogs into a down to stop movment, they don't do it as punishment. They don't "lay down a dog" as in roll them."

reply: Did I say anything, anywhere, about punishment? Or that laying them down = rolling them?
I do have one question though...OC - Obsessive Compulsive?

comment: "Your dogs are waiting for their meals quietly because it works."

reply: Thank you so much for letting me know they're waiting for their food because it works. Now I finally understand. Probably applies to why they do all the other stuff too.

Look, I'll apologize ahead of time for my smart-assery, but give me a break.

I said I was sharing observations. That I was going to study the way Charlie interacts with Brockle. I don't think I mentioned, even once, that I was planning on letting Charlie run my training program. Which I don't have yet. Because I'm still studying.

Ridgerider suggested some reading, which I appreciated. Enough that I found the book and started re-reading it.

That helps. The other? Woof!

maryka said...

Am interested in this as our dog is a rescue that was ill treated & still sometimes the shutter drops. He was kicked , left without exercise , not house trained & positively neurotic when we got him . If a foot moved ie cross your leg or, move your feet underneath you to rise or similar the blessed 8 mth old pup shot across the room, wetting himself as he went.He's now tons better but is still food agressive & if he's in a dark corner & you bend over him he leaps up snarling & snapping. We've had him 7 years now & still hven't got the handle of him. Would just love to have the half wit that damaged him mentally as would show the pig what it is like to be kicked & beaten. Any ideas as am not into giving up ?

mugwump said...

maryka- Your dog is way over my head, truly.
I think (not sure) we might actually have some qualified trainers with valuable input checking in here.
They might have some valuable input.

I would hope, anybody who gives advice in this very touchy and potentially dangerous situation would back themselves up with sound references.
"You shouldn't" doesn't belong here.

Although, I have had some cool things happen with Snocone, our 9-year-old maltese, mill dog escapee. It is happening through using food rewards. I'll write on that next time.

mugwump said...

DarcyJayne - I feel like you've come into my yard and are being, well a bit of a bully.
Except, unlike Brockle, I'm a grown dog, some might even say a bitch.
So now my tail has quit wagging, it's curled over my back and rigid. I'm standing on my toes with my head and hackles up, and my eyes are staring straight into yours.
Guess what I'm saying?
If you have valid information you can back up with references other than your personal opinion, then please, bring them up.
Questions? Good reading? I'm all over it.
If you have a blog or dog training website I can peruse and think about, then please, let me know.
Until then, let me share my observations and thoughts. If I come out with an actual statement, then hell, I'll probably tell you how I got there. It's my way.
If you look off in the distance and wander on off without peeing on anything, well, I'll probably relax.

rheather said...

For fun observation/interaction videos, Dr. Trisha McConnell has one up a couple of posts back. She invites observations and interpretations from readers and posts what she thinks too.

I find the more I watch the more I learn to see, and there's always more a-ha moments to catch.

And for another author, I have Turid Rugaas' Calming Signals and found it to be helpful in translating what's going on with my dogs. I haven't read her other books but I suspect they'd be informative too.

mugwump said...

Thank you Rheather - I've just started "How Dogs Learn," by Jon S. Bailey. I'll read "Calming Signals" next.
This is what Brockle needs.
I'm working hard on letting him know I'll handle things like barking dogs, people approaching too fast and sticking their hands in his face, etc.
So far, stepping in front of him, or between him and whatever is setting him off is working.
I had a dog with bad intentions come at him at the dog park last weekend and Brockle tucked in behind me neat as you please, on his own.
So at least he's looking to me to help him in situations like this one. Or at least he wants my input.
Anyway, I was able to let the dogs meet after the "charger" settled down and they were playing within a couple minutes. It was cool.

Tervpack said...

Wow, you have been watching Charlie! The way you flew at Holly and Darcy Jayne shows what you learned. And I think your growling will stop them cold too.

Many people read this blog. The commenters' points are not aimed solely at you but at a wider audience. I thought the description of dogs voluntarily downing in submission vs. being physically "rolled" was a useful clarification for those less familiar with dog behavior.

OC is operant conditioning.

Calming Signals is a very useful quick read, I think you will like it. We need an internet version for humans.

Holly said...

Janet, you had indicated in a previous post on your new dog, that there were some aggression issues with an outside dog and another person. That sent up red flags for me, and that was part of the reason I wanted to make sure you were aware of the potential for aggression where you and/or the dogs could be badly injured. I'm going to make an obvious point here, and it's not a salm to you or any of the other readers. It's simply an observation on my part. Dogs react far more quickly than people do, so sending the smaller dog away actually happened *after* Charlie came flying back and was too close. Had things been a little different (new dog more mature or self confident, you distracted, had another dog joined the melee) Brockle could have grabbed Charlie before you could react. The knee jerk reaction for most people when the noise and flashing teeth start, is to reach into the fight to extract a dog. That is where people (& sometimes dogs) are injured. Nothing I wrote was meant to disparage you, and I'm sorry if you felt like it was.

You indicated to another poster to say where/why she came to the position where she is. I have 17 years of experience, training my own dogs, training other dogs, fostering and instructing classes.

OC is operant conditioning.

Because this is not my blog, and because I have offended you, I will drop off now. If you want to discuss this further, you can contact me at my personal email,

good luck with your dogs.

Holly said...

maryka, can you please contact me at my personal email....

Tervpack said...

I forgot to post the link to one of my favorite dog articles, Suzanne Clothier's "He Just Wants To Say Hi". I recommend this to many people! It is an excellent article.

Trackside Tales said...

Many people mistake Belgian Shepherd mixes, for German Shepherd / Collie crosses. With the play drive and prey drive you're seeing, I'd expand the breeds you read up on to include Belgians. I've had Belgians in my life for over 20 years, and alot of the behaviours you're seeing are completely normal in my whack pack, and also tightly controlled. Just thought'd you'd like the heads up :)

I also highly recommend reading Suzanne Clothier's "He just wants to say hi", its a fantastic article.

It sounds like you're doing it right though :) You're getting good end results, so the journey there must be on the right path!

Anonymous said...

I put this question at the end of an older Brockle thread but it was too late. I hope it is OK to re-post.

My question is about how to introduce dogs to horses.

Anyone out there with experience with working dogs (stock dogs) ?

I have had horses all my life and have come late to needing working dogs to earn a living. I started by getting some very expensive fully trained dogs. They are hard to get though and I am having to learn how to train dogs from puppies. Im not translating from horse training to dog training all that well as I never owned dogs much before and I dont think I understand training a predator. Too used to horses where a reward is to leave it alone. Horse training I feel comfy - dog training ??!!%% ?? I dont know how to do right and it is hard to find good stock dog training DVDs.

I need the dogs to follow the horse but not work it.

I want them to head and heel cattle on demand and when they see fit - but not horses.

Should I introduce them as puppies ? How? at what age? If I introduce a number of pups to horses they just pack up and bark and work them - so singly? As little pups alone they are scared and run so do I drag them around the horses on a lead?

I have already made one promising pup badly vehicle phobic forcing it on a quad bike - I presume I can make them horse phobic easily - any tips - is there a more appropriate forum for this question? As I might be off - topic.

mugwump said...

I actually knew what OC was guys...
I was poking at the abbreviation and assumption that everybody knew what that was.
To be honest, there is as much "my trainer is better than your trainer" that goes on in this world as in any other.
I'm not surprised.
I'm starting with BF Skinner BTW. Like I said, and will probably say again, I form my own opinions.
Holly - Of course you didn't offend me. Got my hackles up? Yes. I always get that way when assumptions are made about me.
I have stated I'm not a professional when it comes to dogs. I also admitted I have had aggression problems with my dogs in the past.
I guess I should have clarified. I'll give a little history in a post and it might help.
Again, of course your comments were directed at me and not a general audience. You quoted my post.
I didn't specify how close Charlie was when I gave him the "Off" command. Nor did I have another dog to worry about, as I stated, we were in my backyard.
I do however, have quite a bit of confidence in my ability to read a dog situation, both good and bad.
I'm also very, very sure of my control over Charlie,no matter where his head is. I'm not new to the world of dogs, just learning new ways to function with them.
If we can clear up some of our communication approaches, I think you'll be a great contributor here.
these posts are already raising questions I can't answer.

Darcy Jayne said...

Sorry, Mugwump - you don't know me, so why should you trust what I say? (that's NOT sarcasm). But I am not going to just slink off from your hard stare. I will lower my ears and soften my mouth, maybe even lick and pant a little bit by way of apology for misunderstanding and to show my peaceful intentions.

Please accept that my intent is not to bully. If I sound harsh, it's out of frustration. I hate to hear dog-behavior/training myths repeated. I also tend to be very plain-spoken, and sometimes forget that folks on the Internet can't see my face or body language.

I've been dealing with assertive dogs for 14 years and have learned a lot, largely by making my own mistakes and figuring out how to clean up after them. I've learned how to recognize a dog bully, and your description of Charlie's behavior sounded like bullying to me. Your statement that you'd be paying more attention to Charlie sounded to me like you were thinking of following his lead. I get now that you meant you'd be monitoring his behavior more closely. Likewise, when you say "lay down another dog" that reads to me as "physically force down", which only very rarely happens as either a serious fight, or mutual play. It's not part of day-to-day "I'm in charge" conversations between dogs. In fact, most of the time when one dog asks another for submission, they'll settle for an offer that's much less obvious than rolling over. So, a series of misunderstandings added to an impression I got from your earlier post about Brockle that you're new to this whole dog-training bit lead me to be concerned, and I expressed it...poorly.

My favorite reference over time is the Whole Dog Journal. They go a little overboard in the "positive only" direction as far as I'm concerned, but are an excellent starting point. No advertising, so they're not beholden to anyone but their subscribers.

If you want to know a particular BNT for dogs to learn from, try Victoria Stillwell rather than Milan. She's not all wrapped up in the whole dominance/submission thing the way he is, and she is much better at reading dog body language and explaining it to people. That, and I hate to see someone who I've seen consistently fail to read doggy body-language be rewarded.

You asked for links, but I rarely save the articles I've read, so I had to do a bit of quick searching. Wikipedia's not my favorite resource, but here's this anyway on laying down a dog:
and another:

Here's one for tug of war and dominance:

As a side note, my very silly 80# dog LOVES to play tug. He wants the game to go on as long as possible, so he adjusts how hard he tugs to his opponent. I've seen him very gently play tug with dogs 1/4 his size.

mugwump said...

DarcyJayne - I too am continually frustrated by assumptions.
I only write what I mean. Unless I'm mocking, teasing or lying. So there you go.
When I said I'm not a dog trainer, I meant not in the same capacity as I am as a horse trainer. Which I can with a clear mind state, I am.
I explained, I thought very clearly, how the dogs in my life behave.
They are well mannered, quiet and have been welcome at every barn I've ever worked or boarded at. This is not a small accomplishment, as any dog/horse person knows.
This means they respect all livestock, children, clients and strangers.
They get along with other barn dogs and leave the barn cats alone.
I don't need to know where they are and can focus on my job because they are where they're supposed to be.
I have immediate recall.
Dogs aren't born this way.
I've had six good barn dogs in my life and two mediocre ones. I've lived with 10-15 B.O.'s dogs, some spoiled, some good, some in the middle. They all spent most of their days with me and not their owners.
Brockle is more dog then I've ever dealt with. It doesn't mean I don't think I can deal, but I want to learn and do right by him. It's how I work. So, I'm reading, watching and absorbing.
How you guys glommed on to me being a Cesar Millan fan, I have no idea.
I'm planning on writing about each trainer as I form an opinion.
I have watched his video's and he's easy to watch, because I understand what he's doing and why.
I haven't however, started browsing his products page.
I also watched several Victoria Stillwell videos and moved on. The all black leather, stiletto heeled, finger shaking, wide-eyed Amazon stance annoyed the crap out of me. I understood her, just felt like I was reading a comic book.
I did not mean I was going to monitor Charlie more closely. I don't have to. I intervene when I feel it's necessary. Always have, always will.
Picking out the parts you felt were
repeated dog/behavior myths and deciding because I said "I want to learn" meant I was too naive to understand even basic dog behavior leaves me feeling like the points I actually wanted to make fell on deaf ears.I'll try to be open, but we'll be sparring if I'm made to feel stupid.
In the mean time, lets just politely look away and move on. I'm not ready to share my favorite tug yet, I don't care how gentle you claim to be.
Maybe next time we meet at the park it will go smoother.

Darcy Jayne said...


My comments about Milan were a combination of an example of someone who talks a good game, but has horrible execution (if you want, I'll go into detail); and response to people who mentioned him in tones that struck me as admiring.

Stillwell's window dressing is annoying, but her methods (theoretical and in application) are sound.

I'll bring a fresh tug toy next visit. It's your home, you get first dibs.

Rose said...

I'll be interested to continue to hear about your dog training experiences and those in the comments. While I grew up around dogs, I never had much to do with their training (with the exception of teaching one dog how to high-five). My boyfriend and I are hoping to get a dog once we are more settled and I will admit I have been fanatically watching how owners interact with their dogs in public, watching what training techniques and commands they are using. It has given be some great ideas!

Jenn said...

Treats aren't bad. Keep them small and light. Keep them irregular.

Early on it might be: work, work, work, get treat.

Later it should be: Hey! A treat! What a great surprise!

Heidi the Hick said...

I love this part:

"No running, jumping, game playing and so forth. Quiet, gentle behavior only, with plenty of ear scratches and back rubs. The same rules apply to the dogs."

Anonymous said...

Mugs, you might enjoy this blog:

She's a professional dog trainer and heavily involved in search and rescue, working farm dogs, and dog rescue. Her approach to training reminds me a lot of yours. I've linked directly to one of my favorite posts, which recounts the life of (one of) her favorite dogs.

Whywudyabreedit said...

Janet, I can recommend a great book that helped me to develop a solid out on my dog. I also got a strong and fast retrieve, and a good hold up until release without re-biting. The book is called "Schutzhund Obedience : Training in Drive". It has a wonderful game "two hoses", which is well described and has a natural progression that will eventually lead to a solid retrieve, tug, and out with just one toy. Initially you need two identical toys, this book uses hose pieces.

Based on your description of your dog he will probably respond very well to this game, and you will like that it doesn't require any food. The reward is the toy, and since there are two that are identical, you always get to have control of the most interesting one! You can use the second toy to shape a solid out, it is pretty cool stuff.

I feel like I have a bit more to contribute now that we are talking a bit about dogs =)

Here is an address that you can paste in, or just search on the title.

Joyce Reynolds-Ward said...

I am far from being a dog expert, though I've been around dogs. The only dogs I've been a primary handler of, however, have been Shelties. I like Shelties, even modern versions, but they do require a light and perceptive hand as opposed to other types of dogs.

That said, I think with dogs, even more than horses, you have to analyze their primary purpose and instincts and go from there with their training. I've observed a keen field-bred (as in champion field bloodlines) hunting Golden Retriever and that's a far cry from the Sheltie temperament or a Rottweiler. Herding dogs are different from hunting dogs, scenthounds from visual trackers and so on. Much more specialized than horses.

So I'm an interested observer on the side. Dogs don't really resonate with me, except maybe for the Shelties, and those are just too high-maintenance for my current life (nothing's quite as pretty though as a happy, proud, well-groomed Sheltie in good conditioning out for a stroll. Unless it's a Sheltie who's had a chance to herd some stock. My personal protector childhood Sheltie had the chance to herd sheep--once. He circled, rounded them off, and backed off on verbal command...with no prior experience other than herding cats...literally...with his sister).

MichelleL said...

Another excellent share Janet, thank you.

Makes me wish I understood these principles when I was raising my boys. I like to think the guys turned out OK despite my well intentioned yet misguided efforts.

Becky said...

When you muse about horses, we all nod quietly and thank you for sharing.

When you muse about dogs, we all have opinions about how you can improve and what you're doing wrong.


mugwump said...

Thank you Heidi! I have waded into a very personal subject to many, don't you think?
Becky -I know! Yikes!

AmyUK said...

I have a little observation to make. Its based in many years working with and around dogs. I am often complimented on how pleasant my dog is. Even non-doggy people seem to submit to her charms! I have had a 5 dog household made up of five rescue dogs with various issues and one Jack Russell and worked at a local rescue and at a leading rescue charity in the UK.

I don't subscribe to any trainer. I use what works for each dog. You get a sense of which dogs need pushing and which need time to come to the realisation themselves (I am sure that is easy for you with horses Mugs and to some extent with dogs).

Victoria Stilwell is brilliant. She is uses a variety of techniques and doesn't espouse one particular way - unlike Caesar. His methods can be enormously dangerous in the hands of novice dog owners (just like Parelli and novice horse owners) - but we know Mugs isn't one of those! Please get past Ms. Stilwell's dress and manner. She was never that bad over here in the UK - the US producers have forced her into a bit of a caricature.

My biggest bit of information that I want to share is in response to your comment that you want your: 'puppies to be puppies and dogs to be dogs"

Breed has a very big effect on when a dog is 'grown up'. After all, dogs are basically wolves kept very much in the puppy stage. This is an oversimpflification but, it is a valid point. In my experience very independent breeds such as terriers are much more 'grown-up' mentally. A lot of them 'get' the dominance etc and act like grown up dogs (this is why many poorly adjusted ones can be right terrors - territorial and often very scared dogs which have a bad fear aggression problem).

Other breeds which were designed to take more direction from us (spaniels, herding breeds etc) are more puppy like or take longer to reach 'adulthood'. Some never really do. To them 'dominance' is weird - they get that the other dog wants the toy and give it up but the whole 'pack hierarchy' thing doesn't work so well.

Again - an generalisation but perhaps food for thought?

P.s Part of the reason your 'pack' is chilled is because you are? My pack were always fine with me, with my nextdoor neighbour or our occasional dog walker but when my mum was in charge (she spends a lot of time faffing and not much of it paying attention) the two bitches would fight and the terrier would run off on walks. I had to leave my current dog with her for 3 months as my dog-friendly uni accommodation fell through and it took that long to find more. During that time she developed severe separation anxiety (chewing the door and surround, cut her mouth and feet)and it took six months to fix it and we have little to no problem now. I still believe it is because my mum just isn't a calm person generally and my dog is quite sensitive to that.

Ooh deary me I went on rather longer than I meant it to!

mugwump said...

Amy - Good food for thought. I'll explain more about my dogs to be dogs and puppies to be puppies thinking later, when I'm a little better at explaining myself. I do understand dogs mature at different rates, I thought the bigger they were the longer it took, but your point on breeds is a good one.

Sandy said...

Love the story! I have a mini Dachshund who is so bull-headed! And loves to dig his way to freedom! Any good ideas on stopping the digging?

Greenie said...

You might want to work on "leave it" instead of "give" when it comes to the mailman lol!

To me it sounds like things are going really good and you're making a lot of progress. I like watching our guys too, it's like watching a foreign film with no subtitles... I kinda get what's going on but I'm still missing a lot.

My first day back to work after I finished maternity leave I had a woman crying in the front of the shop because she just couldn't stand to leave her baby (dog) at the shop for her haircut.... I gently told her everything would be ok and, hey, I knew how she felt I'd just left my daughter at the sitters for the fist time... She snapped out of it and told me my girl would be just fine... Being at the sitters is good for her anyway.... And she was quite matter of fact about it too.

I always found that one kinda odd...

Anonymous said...


Contrary to what people seem to think... Doxies are Terriers and not hounds...

Welcome to typical terrier behavior.

He needs something to do and to be kept busy, busy, busy and thinking.

Gotta find something he likes doing.

Breathe said...

Alas, poor Brockle, now blog fodder.

Appreciate your observations. Lol on Stillwell. She is over dressed, but generally dead on imho. Tug on!

anissa_roy said...

I'm following this with interest. I've got three dogs of my own (and have had up to SEVEN, including one neurotic GSD, in my house at one time), so thoughtful explorations of training and working with a pack of dogs always fascinate me.

As for the tug game, in my experience as a dog owner and certainly NOT a professional trainer, I've found that any degree of tugging tends to excite a dog. Even if you're holding the tug still and he's just pulling against it, it's still fun and still a reward. What worked for me, instead of extinguishing the behavior, was to catch the dog's collar and let the tug hang limp. The dog can't pull because I'm holding him, and the toy is no fun because there's no resistance. Eventually he gets bored and drops it. Then just as he opens his mouth I say "Give!" and once the toy is out, release him and tell him he's wonderful. And, of course, start the game again. Just my two cents - I'm sure you'll find tons of info out there.

Half Dozen Farm said...

LOL! I'm just laughing at all the preaching going on from the comment gallery. I have input on training dogs too, but somehow I think Mugs will get along just fine without it. :)

Most people are fully capable of "muddling through" (and I'm NOT saying this is what you are doing, Mugs - I'm speaking in general here) and figuring out what works for them and their critters when they are interested in learning and committed to making it work. Dogs and horses are really good at figuring out what their owners/trainers want too, even if the o/t doesn't ask the "right" way.

Anyway, I always appreciate your posts, Mugs. They are always thought-provoking and I always have to read them at least twice! I'm really enjoying hearing about your dog-family too. (And that was a good Tally tease!).

scsarah said...

What a hornest nest of controversy! First it was nosebands, now dog training!.....*wiggles my eyebrows*....maybe a post on child rearing is needed....lolololol

I do respect your way of doing something that is newish to you; or when you are trying to improve the way you have done something in the past. Maybe 'cause it is kinda sorta the way I do things.

You study, read, research, ask questions, maybe contemplate with and adult beverage; and then try, mix things up, and find what fits you, your animals, your life, and your circumstances.

Anonymous said...

"Contrary to what people seem to think... Doxies are Terriers and not hounds..."

Everything I know (from AKC etc) says that doxies belong in the hound group. :-)

mugwump said...

"First off the name Dachshund is German meaning badger dog. German hunters bread this dog for hunting. The Dachshund was said to have been bread from dwarf mutations of taller hunting hounds like the Schweisshund (bloodhound) and the Bibarhund. By the 18th century hunters had shorted the legs in the hunting hounds by selective breeding. Thus producing the standard Dachshund."

mugwump said...

"Dachshunds were recorded in the English stud book as German Badger Hounds in 1874, contributing to the mistaken belief that Dachshunds are hounds rather than terriers. As long ago as 1906, a breed expert commented: “That it is used occasionally as a hound in the sense that it follows rabbits and hares by scent as does a beagle, does not alter the fact that it is essentially a dog that goes to earth and is therefore a terrier.” In 1927, a great dog historian (Edward Ash) commented that a Dachshund is, in fact, a terrier with very crooked legs, but possessing in a very great degree both the appearance and fine nose of the beagle. Some say that the best way to settle the hound-versus-terrier argument is to say that the Dachshund is a hound that became a terrier, and that it displays the best qualities of both."

You guys have been mugwumped.

Follow by Email


This content is not yet available over encrypted connections.