Ode to the dog

I think I may have written the world’s first-ever positive reinforcement dog training poem. Published by Pedadoggy for the first time. Enjoy!

Ode to the dog

 

Isn’t it a little treat

To have a dog rest at your feet.

Deeply gives a contented sigh

And so past the hours fly.

 

But all is not right with this pure scene

For how do these two make a team?

One so tall and standing on twos

The other takes great joy in smelling poohs.

 

To really understand this anomaly

Let us review the family tree.

Visit scenes from long ago

Before human beings grains did grow.

 

So cast your mind to years have gone

When camp fires through thick forests shone.

Safety, warmth, water and food

Were priorities of the human brood.

 

But in that dark lives wolf – big and scary,

Fiercely proud and extremely hairy.

Who made the first move by that camp fire,

Who overcame fear with their bold desire?

 

As the humans camped and sang and clapped

Fed and laughed and took their naps.

Wolf was curious and could smell their cooking

Stole some pieces when they weren’t looking.

 

So was it man who threw a spare bone

Without following it swiftly with a stone?

For with this creature he could connect

As its priority was to defend and protect.

 

Or was it wolf in a moment of need

Traded fear in return for some feed.

Learnt to hang out with the human pack

No teeth bared in exchange for a snack.

 

 

Perhaps one day a hand leant out to touch

Standing still was wolf, it wasn’t too much

For following quickly was the prize of a bone

Isn’t this a place you’d want to call home?

 

Now generations of wolves and human kind

have passed since that first meeting of minds.

Today with humans dogs do stay

Eat and sleep, run and play.

 

Around us the dog’s shape takes many forms

And between the two a new bond has been born.

Whether labrador, malamute, pekinese or poodle

Staffy, whippet or even cavoodle.

 

They’re part of the family, a member of the house

Except for the time when they bring in a mouse.

Man’s best friend became their name in time

And so these two creatures live lives intertwined.

 

So next time your doggy is pulling on the leash

Be kind to them when manners you teach.

For inside them still lives the wolf who is strong

And to punish them at all is so very wrong.

 

Remember the campfire and what it did show

That food helped the wolf learn new things and grow.

Let them catch flies and chase smells that allure

As their happiness will be yours too for sure.

 

 

 

 

Written by Grazia Pecoraro

Sydney, Australia

 

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You can find out what your dog is thinking…

Northern Beaches dog lovers were given high quality, free information about positive, reward-based dog training last night.

Learning to read dog body language, tips for communicating with our furry companions and doing cool tricks together were covered by qualified dog trainers who only use positive outcomes when working with their and other people’s dogs.

For those who weren’t able to make it on the night, here are some of the key insights from the line-up of fantastic speakers.

Dr Jill King – Pittwater Animal Hospital

As an animal behaviourist, Jill covered anxiety in dogs as many animals needing her help visit her office every day. While a normal response, anxiety is an anticipation or worry about a potential future danger. Some dogs, however, develop anxiety about things that aren’t dangerous such as hair dryers or the sound of thunder.

Jill spoke about the stages or zones of anxiety:

  • Happy, relaxed dogs = in the blue zone.
  • Interacting with us, slightly excited = in the green zone.
  • Getting worried but starting to get worried = the yellow zone (pre-panic).
  • Absolute panic zone= in the red. There’s not much can do at this point as they are totally stressed out.

Jill’s advice was that if your dog is in the green zone, moving to yellow, but before they get to the red zone is to get your dog out of the situation and avoid it in the first place when you can. Calm them down and get eye contact. Tell them it’s all okay and be kind to them.

 Louise Colombari – Pittwater Animal Hospital

“I have emotions you can relate to as a human but I need you to understand me as a dog”… Understanding canine body language was covered by Louise who is a vet nurse and dog trainer.

Human communication Dog communication
Approach each other directly/ face to face / front on

Engage direct eye contact

Shake hands or hug

 

Approach in an arch

Have indirect eye contact

Body language indicates their personality – swift and direct = confident, slow and less direct = less confident

Find face to face contact confrontational. Especially when they’re on a lead and feel they can’t escape.

 

Learn to read your dog’s emotional state by observing the big picture. Loose, wiggly dogs are generally comfortable while those who are stiff in their eyes and body stance and have a shut mouth are anxious, uncomfortable or alert to potential danger.

Dogs use displacement behaviours and calming signals to calm themselves or others. These are either normal behaviours taking place out of context e.g. they yawn when they are not tired or to diffuse a potentially stressful situation with other dogs or people.

There’s a range of these behaviours where if you observe them you’ll be able to recognise if your dog is uncomfortable in the situation – even when you think everything’s okay. The list includes yawning, scratching, lip licking, sneezing, stretching, turning away, lifting a paw, showing the whites of their eyes, blinking repeatedly or slowly dropping their head.

Some easily recognisable signs of stress in dog include suddenly shedding a lot (like a dandruff storm), sweating through their feet which leaves wet paw prints, refusing to eat, shaking as if they are wet, pacing, panting and barking or whining.

There are great body language apps and resources on the Internet, including:

Maxine Fernandez – Canine Kindergarten

Tricks are a great way to build trust and confidence in each other through positive reinforcement. They create calm and can help you learn to communicate with each other, while your dog has to get basic behaviours down pat as they’re often the foundation for more complex actions e.g. lying down precedes rolling over.

Maxine likes training multiple tricks at the same time so there’s variety and unpredictability, while you can move onto another trick if they’re struggling with a particular one. To do complex tricks you break them down to their most simple stages and build them together as the dog grasps each stage.

Tips for getting started with tricks:

  • You can teach by luring (getting them into position), capturing (reward as they do the right thing) or shaping (stitching behaviours together)
  • Mark the behaviour with a clicker or a “yes” to mark the moment the dog does the right thing and reward them with food to reinforce it
  • Use prompts or chains to shape a more complex behaviour
  • Be safe – watch your dog for signs of stress, frustration and discomfort. Don’t pressure them and don’t train if they are over-excited.

Barbara Hodel – Goodog Positive Dog Training

Dog sports are fun, save you going to the gym as it keeps you fit, you have a better trained dog and improves the relationship between you and your dog. And above all it’s about Barbara’s catch phrase: tired dogs mean happy owners!

Barbara from Goodog shows that trick training is fun and good for your dog.

Barbara from Goodog shows that trick training is fun and good for your dog.

There is a large choice – 50 different options available, including some breed-specific ones. Dog sports Barbara recommends and that are available in our local area are:

  • Treibball where instead of sheep they use large balls where dogs need to ‘herd’ them into a goal.
  • In Earth Dog for terrier-type dogs they have built purpose-built dens to ‘hunt’ rats (which are protected behind a fence for their safety).
  • Nose Work is inspired by working detective dogs and they learn to find a specific odour and its source. Great for older dogs who aren’t as agile anymore or those with other disabilities.
  • Flyball is a race between two teams of four dogs. Each dog jumps over four hurdles, retrieves a ball and returns.
  • Rally O (stands for rally obedience) is a combination between traditional obedience and agility but is more relaxed and suitable for most dog owners. Handler and dog navigate a signposted course, performing a series of exercises such as turns while a judge checks their performance.
  • Agility – dog and handler navigate a course with jumps and equipment, while competing against time with no faults.
  • Dancing with dogs. The routine choreographed to music is also called freestyle obedience or heelwork to music.

Choose what’s right for you according to your age and fitness level, time and interest, as well as your dog’s age, fitness, sociability and breed. Some ways to get involved in sports on the Northern Beaches include:

  • Goodog fun classes
  • North Suburbs Dog training Club
  • Manly and District Kennan and dog training clb
  • Canine fun sports
    Dogs NSW has info about herding, Earth Dog etc

It was a great night and the community really benefitted from having access to such high calibre dog trainers who don’t use punishment to get the best from their dogs.

Around three education sessions are planned for next year. If you are interesting in finding out more or attending future events, please get in touch with Barbara at www.goodog.com.au or Barbara@goodog.com.au