Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Your Dog IS Speaking To You...

But are YOU listening? ...

Take a little peek at this video, found on youtube.

Cutsey? See the cute labrador playing with the ubercute human puppy there... gee, thats so cute I could puke...

And what is Buster, the star of the show saying... does he love 'his' baby?

Well, I can't tell you that, but I can tell you, he doesn't love some of the shit that baby is doing!

Lets skip back a minute to find my point here.... dogs have these mouths and they are full of teeth. They also keep their heads at roughly 'baby/toddler face height', around adult human knee height...

So when a dog snaps at and bites a baby or a child... they get the face.

And oh so many times, we hear the words 'He bit without warning' or 'it was a totally unprovoked attack'...

We see children in the newspapers with bite wounds to their faces, and, because their faces are small and dogs are in comparison large, because we have soft skin, those wounds are usually pretty bad (although generally NOT consistant with an 'attack' but very consistant with a quick 'bite and release' as is common in dog to dog communication and dog to puppy interactions.... interesting point that..).

So... you watched that clip?

Pinpoint where that dog said 'I don't want to play now baby'..

He actually said that politely around four or five times and then once quite strongly, and then again when the baby was pulling his tail he tried to tell the baby off two or three times there.

Start looking at the vid again, around the 3.10 mark on the counter, where the dog has his toy under his belly and the baby takes it. He pointedly removes the toy from the baby several times, eventually placing his paw over it.

The baby tries to take the toy again and this time Buster the Labrador holds on to the toy, freezes, stares directly at the baby and there is a milisecond of 'lip curl'.

Note also around that behaviour, Buster is looking away from the baby, to the owner and also the other way, he yawns, he pants, he licks his lips.. and then that freeze/stare/lipcurl..

This dog is saying 'I am not comfortable, I am stressed, I do not like this situation, Baby, Go Away'.. the lipcurl is stopped by the owner, i doubt she actually saw it, but i suspect she did cotton on that the freeze/stare part of the behaviour was going to the realms of 'dog snaps at baby'.

MOST owners don't see this language, this communication. This dog in this video, like hundreds of dogs on videos all over the internet is almost SHOUTING 'i am unhappy, i am stressed, i am not comfortable'.

Yet until they growl.. no one does anything to allieviate their problems.

And when they DO growl... well go on, your dog growls at your kid, if Buster in that vid growled at the baby after his lipcurl and stare went unheeded?..

'BAD DOG BUSTER, NO!'.... oh you betcha, thats what most of you would do, thats our instinct.

But its wrong, its so very wrong it resides in Wrongville, Wrong County, Planet Wrong.

Punish your dogs lipcurl, his growl, his airsnap, and you will create a dog who FEELS threatened, uncomfortable, pressured, but no longer has the ability to say 'hey, back off buddy'.

Put this in human terms... someone repeatedly invades your personal space and eventually, grabs your tits/ass. You would normally say 'HEY.... BACK OFF' way before that happened, but you are mute, you cannot speak.

Whadda ya gonna do? What option do you have left?

Well you can run away... or...

Smack em in the eyes!

This, people, dog owners, humans... this is the option so MANY dogs are given, this dog in the video I chose for this post has TRIED moving away from the baby, hes TRIED body language, hes TRIED ignoring it.. he tries very hard to pay attention tohis owner when she is encouraging her child to pull the dogs tail...

He has to try, tolerate this and so do a million dogs every day.

Isn't it awesome that dogs DO try to please us and not bite our children, even when we actively encourage them to use dogs as play things? When we ignore them and even punish them for trying to communicate with us how they feel!

And yet, as clearly much loved as Buster in the video is, and all the Busters around the world...

One nick, as much as one snarl at that baby and it'd be a one way trip to the vets office for him.

Don't you think thats wrong, that that is SERIOUSLY fucked up? Don't you think that we, as the creature with the bigger brain, the ability to learn different languages, understand different social rules and ettiquette ought to learn how to read and listen to our dogs?

Your dog is speaking to you, loud and clear. Pull your fingers out of your ears and listen to him!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Oh Dear Sweet Mother Of God.... NO!

Designer dog breeds are something that sits uncomfortably with me, 'doodle' this and 'poo' that, when we do have sufficient real, recognised breeds with predictable looks and temperaments (on the whole) to suit anyone who is needing/wanting/capable of owning a dog.

That said, whilst I disapprove of the notion of creating these designer mongrels, especially where there are many thousands of mongrels dying in rescues and pounds across the country - if they are bred responsibly, if the parents have all the required health checks, if the breeders are willing to take back each and if necessary every pup they have ever produced and ensure them a home for life... I can't disagree with that.

But an idle trundle through the interwebnet today... brings me something that had only touched the edges of my concious previously.

That something would be the breeding of 'wolf hybrids'.

Where, where oh where do I start.

Well, minor little factoid one - Wolves Do Not Make Good Pets.

They are wild, dogs are domestic for a reason, wolves are NOT domesticated.

The reason dogs are good pets is because for thousands of years, we have domesticated them, and not without a little help from dogs themselves, who actively wanted to be with us (because they found life easier that way, NOT because they especially like being dressed in pink hoodies and pushed around in strollers).

Wolves do not want to be domesticated, and it is for that reason that in most countries, you will require a Wild Animal Licence to keep one.

Not, however, in all. And in those countries, the human desire to 'look really hard' by means of having a potentially dangerous pet, is fulfilled by the ownership of a dog who has wolf parentage.

Some of these wolf hybrids do contain a large quantity of wolf blood. These are 'the real deal'.... cool? Hell no!

What you have in a wolf hybrid is an animal who will often behave like a domestic dog.

But when the chips are down, when that animal is frightened, threatened, in pain, nervous... he's going to react like a wolf.

One site points out that wolves will avoid humans - and yes, WILD wolves, in their natural environment, in the security of their pack, free to behave naturally - these WILL avoid interacting with people, are not going to attack people...

Remove them from the security of their pack, force them into close contact with human beings, limit their ability to follow natural behaviours, fulfill instictive desires... and they absolutely can, will and DO attack and injure human beings.

Hell, domesticated dogs attack, injure and kill human beings, for EXACTLY the same reasons, ie they are mistreated, they are denied their needs, they are forced into situations they are ill equipped to deal with...

Creating a mixture of dog and wolf is the HEIGHT of human stupidity - for a creature with such a mahoosive brain we really are incredibly stupid!

One website I came across described their wolf hybrids as being safe with children!!!

As a dog behaviourist, I wouldn't state that DOGS are safe with children - safe when supervised, safe when trained and managed correctly, but never flat out 100% safe, no animal is (even our own fucking species often cannot be trusted alone with children!).

Interestingly that particular website had pictures of their 'stud wolf' who looked like the labrador x German Shepherd Dog-est wolf I ever saw - the rest of their dogs looked to be approx 0% wolf as well...

"Prince Adam, supposedly a "McKenzie Valley Arctic" (sic)... (note. Arctic wolfs are one type... 'Mackenzie Valley is another, its an alternative name for ... see below!)

A real Mackenzie Valley - aka Canadian/Alaskan Timber Wolf

Still, its FINE to breed these, because GOD made the wolf so we could live with it, and GOD made the wolf so great he will bond with his pack... shame God made us with hands and thumbs and not paws, Wolf might have had the ability to see us as pack members if he hadnt!

"The main reasons why people want to have a wolf-dog as part of their family is because #1 it is more intelligent and #2 God gave the Wolf the ability to BOND with members of its pack. The bonding ability that God gave all wolves was absolutely necessary so that they could NEVER turn on their OWN family.

God intended a wolf to be a happy, social animal and he made the bonding to ensure that.

A wolf puppy will bond with its family, to the extent that it is not able to turn on its family. It was given the gift of bonding for that reason, and it will obey its nature until it dies."

Really? So how'd you explain all the behaviourists, biologists, dog trainers, zoo workers, animal handlers who will ALL tell you, you cannot trust a wolf or wolf hybrid, you cannot treat them as if they were a dog. The one thing you CAN expect from a wolf hybrid is that it will be completely unpredictable. It is perfectly able and WILL turn on a human if the circumstances force it. That means you miss just ONE piece of crucial yet minute body language... and blammo, wolfonyerface!

Regardless of whether we subscribe to the belief of His existance, the wolf is meant to be a goddamn wolf, not your freaking plaything. Leave Wolf the heck alone, we have Dog, he's fine and hes far more adapted to live with us stupid, clumsy humans.

Still, if you are so retarded as to believe that a wolf hybrid or pure wolf raised as family will be incapable of attacking you... you actually probably deserve to be removed off the planet by your crazed wild animal before you reproduce. If you already did, well thats cool because Wolfy will probably use your babies as a chewytoy.

So on top of the complete retards selling real wolf hybrids, there are even bigger retards selling PRETEND wolf hybrids.

Wow.. are we so insecure, so desperate and needy we have to have a wild animal to somehow justify ourselves, even if its a pretend one?

Where does the madness stop!

Still think a wolfdog is cool? read this

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

..And another thing...

Well I've been away, well not away, I've been right here, but the addition of the Uber Cute yet Sent From Satan (I'm sure it was Santa I wrote to...) Kelda Puppy, aka my delightful new pedigree Deerhound bitch, Graizelund Carouselambra... well it kind of makes a dent in the time I can spend sat here, snarking at the world.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Btw, Snark, thats my favourite word/verb/hobby.

What can we find to snark on today, hmm..

Well first up, theres the S.O.B, the heartless, evil, S.O.B who couldn't find ten minutes to mind a small dog whilst the dog warden/RSPCA/police were called.... a small dog who had been pulled out of the path of heavy traffic mere minutes before...

And dumped said small dog back on the street.

Where approx 3 minutes later, he was hit by a car and killed almost instantly.

Have a browse of the horrible story here

There are not the profanities and expletives, questions on his parentage or size of genitalia that quite cover what I'd like to say about the person responsible for this. I'll try though.

You Cunt.

(There Beverley, you probably shouldn't say that word and I'll bet quite desperately want to.... I said it for you :) )

Now its time for me to have a bleat and a whinge, and if you want to snark at me.. have at the comments box.

I bought Kelda, from a breeder.

In the eyes of most UK Rescue supporters, that makes me EVIL, with an extra head, with more eyes than is strictly usual, and I ought, if we follow the gospel according to Dog Rescue, BURN IN HELL.

Yes, thats right folks, I bought a dog, I paid for her, with money.

Now if you aren't 'au fait' with uk dog rescue feelings and practices... lets lay it out here.

Rescue dog = good.

Bought dog = bad.

There are very very few rescue groups around that will say 'buying a dog from a reputable and responsible breeder is fine'.

And thats why, when I post a picture of the delightful Kelda, the only people who respond are my close friends. Any OTHER puppy gets a thousand posts, "aww" and "bless" and "so sweet" (deranged the lot, puppies are evil as everyone with half a brain knows!, but i digress).

Now does this not seem a little, arse about...ass backwards for you US readers...

Her breeder took the time to make sure her parents were both breeding quality, that they both had sound conformation, sound temperaments and that they complimented one another.

They then found people willing to home these prospective puppies, checked as far as is humanly possible that these people are not going to turn them into a natty coat or train them to eat children etc etc.

They bred the two dogs, they lavished the utmost care and attention upon the mother, and subsequently the puppies.

Said puppies are now all confident, happy, healthy individuals in their new homes, being loved and cared for by their happy new owners.

But thats BAD right, thats a BAD BAD THING. Its WRONG.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the second hand recycled dogs of this world, fugly or not in whatever way - hell I own four!

I have Abby who is 12, she was unwanted after her working days were over, she's a Saluki x Greyhound and was going to be shot. Now shes a happy sofa ornament, having had various lumps and bumps and internal organs removed and been mended at vast expense on a number of occasions.

Then theres Rocky who lost his home because his 14 year old owner became pregnant and chose the baby over the dog (wrong choice in my opinion but thats her loss). Hes short and fuzzy and has a face like a teddy, you can see his mush at the top of this blog where he watches you allllllllll.

Then theres Dilly who was bred to work but wont, is terribly allergic to all things that exist, life itself really, steals as if his life depends on it and is phobic about any sound known to man and probably a few that arent.

And Pteppic, dear old Pteppic, with his squinty eyes due to extremely poor breeding, bred because 'the kids like having puppies around' and taken in by El Sucker here because 'if we cant home them all we will put them to sleep'..... *sucked in*.

But having four second hand reject mutts, thats apparently not enough, how DARE I go and buy a well bred healthy pup, how very dare I!

And it gets stupider, not only is responsible breeding from healthy registered stock BAD AND WRONG in the eyes of the majority, but those breeders who take an interest and involve themselves in rescue..... are also bad and wrong.

So lets get this straight... breeding causes too many dogs...... breeders attempting to take care of any homeless dogs in their breed... thats wrong? How?

I have many sympathies for the rescue dogs and rescues of this world, but heres a heads up...

Good Breeders dont cause unwanted pets. Stop snarking on them, and on those like me who want a well bred pup for once in their scruffy cheap second hand lives, and stop being so bloody narrow minded, you make more of a difference if you do.

Monday, 20 August 2007

A Blog About Things That Are Wrong..

Like wrong with a capital WRONG...

Whats sparked todays blog, well it was another blog, coo how often do we blog about someone elses blog.

Todays blog is brought to you by:

A horse
A tree
A trainer
A owner
No water
No food
A rope.

Oh, and 21 hours.

If thats not making sense to you, I can put it a little more clearly.

A trainer (without the owners prior permission), tied a horse to a tree for 21 hours, without food or water. (I'll add here before some one leaps in, the horse was offered water, we do not know how often this happened though, and we've all heard the adage about taking a horse to water (or in this case taking the water to the horse)).

This was intended, I gather, to teach the horse to accept patiently, other horses coming and going around her without fuss.

Can I remind people, that this is a young mare, 4 years old, green and new to all such things as other horses milling around and being removed and handled and ridden etc, and indeed the previous weeks of her life have been jam packed full of new things.

This act, and in case we arent getting it here, its one I personally deem abhorrent, its vile, repulsive it is one of the most HORRIFIC things one can do to a horse, to trap it, tied by the head and leave it to force down its own panic, was all in the name of Natural Horsemanship (we think, Ill get to that bit in a moment).

Natural Horsemanship, Parelli, Intelligent Horsemanship, Hippy Horse Lovers United (ok I made that one up)....

They all profess to do to horses that which we have done to horses for many centuries.....

But to do it in a nicer, kinder, more natural, friendlier, less forceful way.

Yet these methods see horses forced into situations they arent happy with.

Monty Roberts uses 'join up' and yet the principal of join up is...... Force Away. The horse has a choice between 'be with me' or 'be alone' and for a horse, a herd animal 'alone' is akin to 'dead'.

That aint much of a choice now is it, on balance, well thats like cake or death aint it? No?

Parelli uses the Seven Games.... ive yet to see a horse completeing these seven games look like its having any kind of fun. The Seven Games appear to be about bullying your horse, showing you are dominant.

Did we read my previous blog about being dominant to our dogs? No, slap wrists go read.....

Just because you do not touch, or hit an animal, or even use your voice, let alone raise it, does NOT MEAN that the method is in itself 'kind' or 'none forceful'.

You CAN thoroughly and completely dominate an animal with body language alone.

I am as of now, 100% OFF natural hippy parelli intelligent horsemanship, because everywhere I see it portrayed as nicer and kinder and funner.....

And whenever I look closer I see it as nasty, devious, forceful, domineering, cruel, bullying methods, with a pretty label on the tin.

Its bullshit my friend, and anyone who thinks tying a HORSE to a TREE for 21 HOURS..... is kind, or useful, or non forceful or non dominant.....

Is either braindead or the biggest wanker thats ever lived.

Get away from my eyes and ears you people, go and trade your dogs and horses for pet rocks, you dont deserve to own anything more sentient than that!

Here endeth the rant. Maybe.

Some shit for y'all to lookit.....

Top of my list of Most Excellent Things Online....

Fugly Horse of the Day....

Oh my is this good, whilst I am mostly a 'doggy' person, having dogs, I'm secretly a horse person, just horseless..

FHotD is about Fugly, its about snark, but way way more importantly than that, its about NOT breeding everything with balls or uterus, purely because it has four legs and goes 'neigh'.
Her points are as valid in the UK as they are in the US, fugly horses, bred with no thought, atrocious conformation and sold cheap or off loaded free, end up leading shit lives, or suffering shitty deaths.

Go and learn about the fugly peeps! Fugly Horse of the Day

And another blog, less fugly, more sweaty, this is my friend Petes brothers blog, about cycling from Lands End to John O Groats... or was that the other way round.

I dunno, I guess I could read it and find out, hey, why don't you do the same.. and maybe you can donate some money for cancer research too.

I think its a worthy cause, far better than spending all your hard earned cash on cakes surely.

Cycling a Really Long Way...

And thats all folks, tune in shortly for an extremely vehement and mahoosive rant about Natural Horsemanship...

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Dominant, dominate, dominating, dominance...

All common words used regarding dog behaviour and dog training.

According to some, and predominantly the old school dog trainers, one ought to 'dominate' ones dog, or else he will become dominant over one....

Its a bit of a minefield really, and one not helped by language.

To dominate, is to tower above, to rule, to control, and whilst I would always agree one needs control of ones dog, is the way to get it to dominate him?

Another use of the word occurs in the darker, less spoken side of life, that of sexual fetish and also that of abusive relationships.

Sadly, I fully believe that whilst the concept of 'dominating' ones pet dog is intended by some to simply mean one is the leader, the one who sets the rules and boundaries, it is interpreted by others to mean bullying abusive tactics.

In the fetish world, one is either Sub or Dom. In the dog world its the human who is Dom, and the dog who is Sub.
Back in the fetish world, the Dom may lead around his or her Sub by a collar and leash, he or she may control their Sub by use of a whip and the threat or reality of pain.

Whilst in this context these are roles welcomed by both consenting parties, in the dog world, this is rarely the case.

Lets look at the comparison between dominated dogs and dominated humans in the context of unhealthy relationships.

All too often, someone, frequently a woman but not infrequently the man, is dominated by their partner.

They must heed their partners words, for fear of aggressive reactions, either verbal or physical. They live under the shadow of anticipated pain and fear, they must do as they are told purely because they are told. The only thing 'in it' for them is avoidance of punishment.

Often they are not aware of what is the right thing to do, they are not encouraged to do the right thing, the things they are expected to do are often not explained.... and then they are punished when they get it wrong.

I doubt anyone would disagree that this is a thoroughly unhealthy and damaging relationship.

What of the dog? Well there are a great many people who believe their dog should do as they are told because they are told to.
These people don't make it clear to the dog what is expected, what is right and what is wrong, they just punish verbally and/or physically the wrong behaviours.
Like the abused human these dogs live in fear, fear of physical or verbal aggression, fear of pain.

Like the abused man or woman, they live in complete uncertainty never knowing from one moment to the next what they can and cannot do.

Theres a big difference though.

There are few people on this earth who will advise, recommend and encourage others to abuse their partners or their children. (ok, there are some and rightly the rest of us display our utter horror at such attitudes).

There are a staggering number of people, even those who would decry the identical treatment of a fellow human, who insist that dogs MUST be treated in this way. They claim one must 'show him who is boss', and I have never yet heard that term used in the context of dog training or indeed ANY context, where it meant anything other than bullying abusive tactics... have you?

So why is this, why must we dominate our dogs, bully them, abuse them?

Because apparently, if we do not, then they will do the same to us, 'dominate your dog or he will dominate you'.

And how must we do this, well theres a range of magical techniques we should carry out.

Heres a few corkers;

  • Alpha roll/pin your dog to 'show him who is boss'... (ie, pin your dog to the floor by the throat and hold him there till he ceases to struggle).
  • Purposely walk into your dog wherever he may be at every opportunity, to teach him that you are the leader and he must always defer to you.
  • Pretend to eat from your dogs bowl so that he knows you are the alpha because you eat first.
  • Walk through doorways before your dog, the alpha of the pack leads the pack.

These may all sound passable on first reading, they all derive from our early misunderstandings of wolf pack behaviour. The theory ran that dogs are descended from wolves and thus behave like wolves, and if we mimic wolf behaviour we can mimic the actions of the alpha wolf, the pack leader and thus our dogs will respect us.

Sadly my friends, for the supporters of dominance and pack theory. This is all complete bollocks.

Lets see those magic methods again and lets see the real messages they contain;

  • Alpha roll/pin your dog. This is supposed to mimic an alpha male punishing a subordinate animal into submitting to him. This doesnt actually happen in the wild, what does happen is that a subordinate animal will roll itself, offering its unprotected stomach and throat to a higher ranking animal as a gesture of appeasement. An animal who DOES get phyiscally rolled in a fight is an animal mere seconds away from death, its the only time a higher ranking animal will force a lower ranking one to do this, before he kills it.
So what does doing this to your dog tell him? Well it tells him you are to be feared because
your intention is to kill him. Whilst its not usually the done thing to compare human and
dog behaviour, just imagine for a second your boss at work pinned you to the floor by your
neck and threatened you with a knife. Im pretty sure youd fear him, not respect him!

  • Purposely walk into your dog. This teaches your dog to move out of your way. He learns that otherwise he will get stepped on. Far from teaching him anything it lets him know you have no respect for his personal space at all, and that you are a bully. I dont know anywhere that it is recorded that wolves do this to one another.
  • Pretend to eat from your dogs bowl. If you want to you may, your dog will learn nothing and if you really eat dog food you may be ill. If you use a biscuit you'll just get fatter. It was long thought that the highest ranking pack members in a wolf pack ate first, but this not actually the case. For one thing, the packs studied were not wild but were captive, made up of non related wolves of various ages. Unsurpringly they dont behave like true wild wolves, who actually allow puppies and lactating bitches to eat first, and will tolerate quite a lot of food stealing by subordinate pack members.
  • Go through doorways first. This theory presumes that the highest ranking pack, the alpha would lead the pack through narrow gaps first. In fact he wouldnt, the entire pack would hang back and push the least useful, the omega pack member through the gap first. The reason is quite obvious and common sense. On the other side of a narrow gap there could be an animal, a human or a bear or something else dangerous (to a lone wolf a lot of things are dangerous!), the pack relies heavily on the alpha for survival and to send him or her through first would be extremely stupid. If the wolf that goes through the gap first comes across say a feral mare protecting a foal hes likely to get a kick to the head and end up dead. If that wolf is the alpha that leaves a pack without a leader. Wolves and dogs just aint that dumb!

So what about if your dog dominates you. Id be foolish to suggest this doesnt happen, it does and it happens quite frequently.
What is most misunderstood is this though, the dog doesnt want to be dominant, he hasnt set out with that aim in mind. Dogs cant forward plan in that way, its pretty dumb to think they could.

What happens is quite simple, and you only need remember one thing to understand it.

Dogs repeat behaviours they find rewarding.

In every situation where a dog is dominating a human, I can find a reward for the dog in behaving that way.

Heres one, 'Mrs Jones poodle Poochy will not allow her husband to sit next to her, he growls and snarls and bites him.'

Dominant dog right?


Poochy is a cute little guy, all white curls, when he was a pup it was funny that he didnt like Mr Jones. He would curl his lip at him when he tried to kiss his wife.
Mrs Jones thought this was funny, she petted Poochy and told him 'there there its ok' to reassure him that Mr Jones wasnt going to hurt him, or her or anyone.
As she did this, Mr Jones would back away from Poochy.

Whats really going on there is that Poochy was afraid of Mr Jones. Its quite common that small dogs are worried by big men, they are big, physically tall with deep voices. They often move suddenly and they are loud.

When Poochy was curled up on the sofa with Mrs Jones, and Mr Jones came over to kiss his wife, he leaned over Poochy, which frightened him, so he curled his lip and growled.

He was rewarded for doing this by Mr Jones backing off, and Mrs Jones patting him and speaking to him. So he gets his prize, clever Poochy.

Next time Mr Jones ignores Poochy, and Mrs Jones carries on rewarding him. The threat of big Mr Jones looming over him is still there and this time the growling and lip curling is ignored, so Poochy bites Mr Jones, he can't think of anything else to do.

This works, Mr Jones leaps back, Mrs Jones rewards Poochy more by more petting and sweet talking.

So there we have, two people who in time have rewarded their dog for the wrong thing, the dog is unhappy, hes frightened, the people are unhappy too.

Nowhere in that little scenario is there anything but a dog repeating behaviour he has found rewarding, that he found worked, in the past.

Theres a lot of human error, but theres no world domination plan on behalf of the dog.

It would be quite simple if Mr Jones ever realised that Poochy was frightened of his size and his deep loud voice, to cure the problem. Simply reward Poochy for being around Mr Jones and not growling, and make that happen by asking Mr Jones to speak softly, quietly and to crouch down rather than lean over the dog.

When the dog in question is a little poodle weighing a few lb's, things don't seem so bad (which is partly why it happens so often in small breeds).

Imagine if Poochy was a Rottwieller though. Hes still a dog, he still doesnt understand that Mr Jones isnt intentionally being scary - but when Poochy the Rottweiller bites, its a very different story.

Mr Jones goes to hospital, and Poochy is either 'shown who is boss' by one of the horrible dominance reduction techniques.... or he is put to sleep.

Hopefully the tide is turning for dog training. I say hopefully as although in the last 20 years the old school bullyboy methods have been recognised by many as being wrong and being dangerous, there are still those out there who believe it is right.

Where they are open about their methods and it is clear to see them for what they are, I am not to worried. As long as we have the strength of our convictions to walk away from the dog trainer who says we must pin our dogs, our dogs will be ok.

What worries me is the trend for dog trainers to pretend to be 'fluffy' and to have some magical abilities in animal communication. One such fellow is self proclaimed Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan.

Cesar claims he has a bond with dogs, that they recognise him as a leader and respect him.

To the average person, he is a charming, witty, likeable fellow, and hes something of an underdog himself, as an illegal mexican immigrant turned tv celebrity. Whats not to like huh?

Unfortunately as much as Cesar claims dogs respect him, the truth is dogs fear him.

His methods are not so nice as the descriptions he puts with them. He describes a desirable state of mind in a dog as being 'calm submissive'. In fact in every show I have witnessed, the dogs are displaying that they are mentally 'shut down', suffering from learned helplessness. This is what happens to any animal, humans included when they finally realise they cannot escape a punishment, that to react is worse than not reacting. It doesnt mean they no longer feel fear or aggression, it means they are too fearful of someone else to display it.

For even humans who have the ability to vocalise their feelings and emotions this is a dangerous state.

For an animal such as a dog who is armed with big teeth and the ability to exert many lb's of pressure with those jaws, this is an extremely dangerous thing. The dog can no longer display his fear with his body language or his voice, and so if cornered and pushed too far, he will bite.

Lots of people think Cesar Milan and others like him are kind people, but I put it to you that they are bullies. Cesar has a method of keeping a dog in check, by jabbing it hard in the neck with his fingers. Imagine if someone did that to you, you'd not think that kind! Imagine if a teacher did that to your child at school!

If you do have a dog, and even if you dont - have a look at the relationship you have with him, are you comfortable with how you interact? Does your dog work for you because he knows he must or the consequences will be unpleasant?

I hope for your dogs sake this isnt the case, just as I hope you are never in a relationship where you are the one who fears unpleasant consequences from a partner.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Terrorists.... Don't Pick Glasgow...

Pretty much any other city in any other country in the world, set cars on fire, strap bombs to people and the reaction you will get is, people running away and screaming.

But not in Glasgow, in Glasgow they run AT you, and they will 'put the boot in'...

Dont believe me, check out this webpage devoted to John Smeaton, baggage handler at Glasgow Airport.

Particularly, pay attention to the videos where the heroic Mr Smeaton, or 'Smeato' as the tribute website dubs him, describes how he attempted to subdue the burning terrorist by 'getting a kick in'...

Had I a hat, I would take it off to you John Smeaton, and I hope you kicked him in the balls!

So are we missing a trick here, perhaps the real way to fight the War on Terrorism.... is to gather up and beer up a load of handy lads from Glasgow, and set THEM on the terrorists?

I like the sound of it myself!

Because I'm British...

Lets discuss the weather....

Its raining. Again. It keeps on raining, and raining, and raining some more....

This time last year I was praying for rain, all my veggies were dying, my bean plants produced just ONE bean pod between the six of them, my peas shrivelled up and died.

This year, oh we have enough rain, we now have so much that my fecking strawberries are mush, my onions are balls of slime and my spuds are just little empty jackets where the slugs have slid through the mud and eaten the lot.

Bloooooooooody weather!

British weather is amazing - last year and the year before were dry. We have reservoirs all around the country, but due to leaks and poor maintenance, we had hosepipe bans and serious water shortages...

This year, well most of Yorkshire and large areas of the country are submerged, a dam in Yorkshire is likely to burst, fish and ducks swimming around peoples living rooms....

Can't we just have a little bit of a balance here?

No? Oh well.... worth an ask!

Monday, 2 July 2007

Somedays, I'd Like to Shoot.....

The internet and everyone who uses it...

But that would be suicide and so I shan't.

Internet forums sometimes drive me wild. Everyone has taken this 'free speech' and 'right to an opinion' WAY too far.

By all means, we all have the right to formulate an opinion (even if some of us just steal others), but since when did 'I have the right to have an opinion' == 'I have the right to force my opinion on others and be deeply fucking offensive about it at the same time'...

Oh yes, let me see.... never.

People suffer from a bizarre condition when they get behind their keyboards, it happens when they get in their car's too... road rage/internet rage.

When you are stuck in your little tin box on wheels you are at 'home' its your space, your environment, and you feel cosy and safe there.
And you feel like you are invincible.... so you undertake and you cut people up, cos hey... who cares, they cant GET you....

And on the internet, well you can say the things you'd never say to someones face, you are safe in your room, behind your keyboard. You can, in the blink of a hoobie eye, send foul offensive hurtful messages to any one of the unsuspecting public and there you are..... internet bully!

When someone says 'oi, thats out of order'... you hide behind 'I have the right to form an opinion'... and sure, go ahead, form as many as you like.

Nobody gave you the right to be a nasty bastard though!

Still, in the long run when folk go around forming half assed opinions, and voicing them in offensive ways, the other important point about 'opinions' becomes interesting...

You can have as many opinions as you like, but as long as you show yourself to be a complete cnut, your opinion holds no value for me!

Sunday, 1 July 2007

'Help my dog wont stop..."

Barking, beating up my other dog, crapping on my carpet, weeing up my walls, biting the neighbours, biting me, howling while I'm at work......

And a gajillion other things a dog can do, that an owner would rather it didn't do.

Welcome to my world, I am a dog behaviourist.
I don't have a certificate that says that, I didn't do a college or university course and get a diploma or a degree.

I sat around, and I watched dogs, and talked to dogs and listened to dogs (really.. my life is so exciting). So now, I know how dogs think, and I have a genetic inability to keep my mouth shut...

So when Joe Bloggs says 'why does my dog' and 'why won't my dog stop...' I tend to know the answer.

And heres the kicker... the answer is usually the owner, not the dog.

Dog problems, problem dogs, 99% of these are human problems and problem humans.

So if you are asking yourself 'why does my dog'... well firstly he does whatever because he is a dog, and secondly......

User Error!

Your dog pees in the house because dogs dont usually have carpeted homes that cover vast spaces. Dogs live in tiny little dens they can just about turn around in, or they live in a big heap of other dogs wherever its shaded from wind and rain. They can pee where they like, YOU put him in a home, you bought carpet and sofas, you lock him in 8 hours a day or more....

You go live in a wood, live in a cave, your dog wont pee on your carpet!

Your dog barks all day and irritates the neighbours because hes alone and he is bored.
Normal canine life is as part of a large social family group. Those who stay 'home' do so in a group, those who go out to 'work' do so in a group - the only canines left out on their own are those thrown out of the group and left to fend for themselves, ie die.

Still surprised that Poochy howls all day when you abandon him to die alone?

Of course you can't go and live in the woods and eat squirrels for the rest of your life, as much as your dog would enjoy it. You can't stay home all day with Poochy because you wouldn't earn the money to pay the rent or the mortgage or eat.

As sarcastic and flippant as I can be, I do understand these things, of course I do - I'm sure as hell not typing this from a cave, my broadband connection ain't provided by the fairies!

What I'd like, (asides from world peace, more chocolate and pert, bouncier boobies), is for those of us who choose to own a dog, do so with some careful consideration. Understand that your dog is a dog, not a furry human. Understand he has instinctive needs, his specific breed or breed mix drives him to behave in certain ways. Consider his needs and your own and see how they match up, make compromises where necessary.

Daily I see dogs with owners who don't understand them. Some because they just miss the point (hell we all know people like that), and some because they don't consider a dogs opinion worthy of taking into account...(yep thems the folks that need lining up and shooting).

Owning a dog should be a great thing, its something humans have done for a damn long time, it should be a mutually beneficial, rewarding relationship.

Yet so often its an unbalanced unhealthy damaging relationship, with the owner as the bully and the dog as the victim.

You only need watch Cesar Milan to see how commonly people believe that a dog should be mentally and physically dominated by their owners at all times, yet I seriously doubt many people would like to be dominated in the same way by their other human family members!

If you think Cesar is a great guy, I have a little test for you.. when your girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife comes in tonight, ask them to do something for you, and if they dont move immediately.. give them a dig in the neck with two rigid fingers.
Keep on doing that until you get the response you want (Ill suspect you'll end up with a slap in the face or single before that happens though).

Then ask your Significant Other if they felt secure, safe, loved and wanted whilst you were doing that. Did they respect you? Did they trust you?

Did they F!!!!

Drawing comparisons between human and canine behaviour is often frowned upon, but think about this. Dogs and man have worked and lived together for thousands of years - do you think that would be the case if there WEREN'T strong similarities in our basic natures?

Thats all for today folks - be kind to yourselves and your dogs.