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Kat's Dogs

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  1. Keep in mind that the above message is merely recruiting agility dogs; it is not a comprehensive discussion of the study’s design and analysis (and neither is this message!). You are correct – we are limited in how we can interpret some of the data we are collecting. However, the initial and still primary focus of this project is return to athletic performance after digit amputation in agility dogs, for which each dog serves as their own control. The amputation aspect of the study is far more extensive: we are collecting performance and veterinary records from these dogs in addition to the owner survey. The entire survey is 30 pages with over 100 questions; agility dogs with non-agility related problems that were NOT treated with amputation will only complete 3 of those pages. We opened the survey to owners of agility dogs with any type of toe problem to collect data characterizing all digital problems in agility dogs, which is valuable information for both agility competitors and veterinarians. Beyond the characterization of problems, we also hope to identify potential risk factors for agility-related injuries related to equipment and performance variations. The present study is designed as pilot research in this area (i.e., this study is limited in funding, time-frame, and scope but will significantly help focus future research efforts). As simba noted, this study does not intend to compare agility dogs to non-agility dogs, although if desired we can easily collect those controls from veterinary records in a retrospective manner. Katherine
  2. Hey agility folk! If you have/had an agility dog who has ever experienced any type of toe problem then you are probably eligible to participate in this research study. The study is designed to 1) identify potential risk factors for injuries, and 2) analyze the return to athletic performance of dogs who had one or more toes amputated for any reason. The goal of this research is to provide agility enthusiasts with information about common toe problems in the sport and to provide veterinarians (and dog owners!) with information to assist with decision-making in amputation situations. Your dog will not be examined if you participate. All agility dogs are eligible, regardless of whether the injury/problem occurred during agility or whether the dog returned to agility after recovery. All types of toe problems (injury, disease, infection, tumor, etc.) are eligible. For additional information you can visit the webpage here: Clinical Studies at the College of Veterinary Medicine If your dog is eligible, the online survey can be found here: Agility Dog Toe Problem Survey. The questionnaire takes approximately 3-5 minutes to complete for dogs who were not treated with an amputation, and 15 minutes to complete for dogs who had one or more toes amputated. Feel free to pass this information along to your contacts and let me know if you have any questions (by posting here, PM, or via email at kmartucci@vetmed.wsu.edu). And for good measure, here's a recent picture of Dazzle (who is still competing and doing well, although she is nearly deaf now) for those who remember her. Thanks!
  3. When Daz was a pup, must have been about 5 months, she took a misstep and fell in a lake. I could see her squirming around under the surface of the water, unable to figure out which way was up. I remember seeing her under the water and thinking "My puppy can't swim, my puppy is going to drown. here. now. today". It felt like it took me awhile to react but according to others I didn't even take time to put my camera down, I just jumped right in after her. Obviously, she was fine. Although I think it may have caused some of her swimming troubles later on... Popcorn, my little old dog, seems to have close calls every other day. I swear this dog is invincible. If she was a cat and had nine lives, she still should have been dead about 5 years ago. She was in a loft bed once (about 8' up) and all of a sudden she slipped and fell - despite her lack of flying skills, as soon as she landed she got right up and walked off. She once ate a couple of huge dark chocolate candy bars (remember she is only 10 pounds) and didn't even get an upset stomach. She somehow ate an entire jumbo container of hot chocolate mix. She nearly got run over, twice, when she bolted out the door one day. She has climbed up all kind of different shelving units and fallen off from various heights. She has been inside the mouth of a German Shepherd that attacked her - one tooth went all the way through her muzzle including her tongue.... And that is just a partial list. Yikes, I think I'll stop thinking about all her near-death expiriences now.
  4. HEY! Now wait a minute, Woo was in a TV commercial wasn't he?!? That's something.
  5. Agility and Disc competitively. We also do Rally-O and some Competition Obedience for fun.
  6. Perhaps try a no-pull harness. That might work not only for the walking but if you want to get her attention too. Bottom line, as Liz was pretty much saying, is that it is time to step up the training. Both focus and the walking on a loose lead should be trained IMO rather than constantly managed with collar-popping or special training collars (like martingales, prongs, gentle leaders, or harnesses). A little time, a flat buckle collar, some positive reinforcement, and possibly the help of clicker or marker word can go a long ways... For working on attention around those kinds of distractions maybe try figuring out just how close she can get before you loose her attention, then start the training a little farther back than that and give her lots of praise for staying focused on you. Next time try to go just a little closer, again giving a lot of praise for focusing on you. And so on and so forth.... If she won't focus on you, just walk away and try again a little later and stay a little farther back from the distraction so she can be successful. Using a method like this is letting her CHOOSE to stay focused on you and ignore the distraction so in the long run you end up with a dog that WANTS to stay focused and ignore distractions. On the other hand if you just use a training collar she might learn that she needs to focus on you, but she would probably still rather go investigate more "fun" things.
  7. Rolled leather collars. Flat leather collars I do not like. I like how thin the rolled ones are and how easy they are on ruff fur. Especially for my little fluffy-dogs that mat easily, flat collars just don't do it for them. I also like my thin (they are sometimes called the "shoelace") leather leads. I find bulky leashes annoying, so I tried to get the thinnest, lightest ones possible - and those were the leather ones. Both the collars and the leads are about 2 1/2 years old and still in great shape - especially considering the abuse I put them through.
  8. That is great Sophie!! He did super! Especially for his first time out. An absolutely wonderful job you have done with him. I can't wait to hear more about his future adventures!
  9. Congratulations! The first Qs are always special. Plus him being able to work after fireworks go off - that is pretty impressive! Way to go Dean! Dazzle's first Q was also a Tunnelers - it is definitely her hands down (paws down?) favorite agility game .
  10. I use Photoshop CS2. I open all the files I want to use and just copy and paste them into a single document, then have a different layer for each photo and each background element to play with.
  11. Dazzle cleans up her toys. I shaped it with the clicker. I started with just a box and got her to reach in and touch her nose to the bottom of the box. Then I did another session with just shaping her to pick up a toy. Then I had both the toy and the box in front of me and shaped her to put the two behaviors together! I found that doing the nose-touch in the box first made for a more accurate drop then other methods I experimented with later. Now she is happy to clean up her toys but she doesn't really get that they should stay in the basket so within another 10 minutes they are all over the floor again. At least it gives her something to do: clean them up, take them out, clean them up, take them out...
  12. I found out (the hard way) that Dazzle didn't know how to swim when she fell in a lake as a pup. Many dogs just "know" (both of our Shih-Tzus could always swim just fine if you put them in the water). Daz on the other hand....she would always go out until as far as she could while keeping her paws on the ground, and if a ball was just out of reach she would even stand on her hind legs in the water to go father (I actually have pictures of it) - but she would NOT swim and didn't seem to know how. This past Thursday we went to the beach and I went out in the water with her, supporting her body and helping her out a bit to stay afloat and after about an hour of on and off practice she finally figured out how to swim. Then with some more ball tossing she started perfecting her technique (less paw slapping!). It took awhile for her to get the idea though. Maybe she's just weird, I don't know.
  13. This is what we do when we are bored. We also do stuff like hide and seek, finding toys by name ("go get your ____"), chewing kongs (or other interactive toys), agility, frisbee, get her to pose for pictures, etc...
  14. Oh Quynn-dog!! Such a good boy he is. Keeping our fingers crossed for the little ones! They are adorable.
  15. There is a lot of training that should be done that doesn't use equipment first. Obedience of course, but also handling on the flat, directionals, play drive, self control, rear-end awareness, target training, and so on. Once all that is done I start the equipment training. The order I did with Daz was something like the following. tippy board/teeter foundation Touch (end behavior of contacts) jumping foundation tire weaves the rest of jump training table tunnels Teeter Aframe Dogwalk chute (the last thing she learned because we weren't competing in an organization that had the chute) I don't know that the order is all that important. Some things need more work (end behavior for contacts, weaves, and jumps) than other things (tunnels, table, chute) so that is the only reason I really started some of them first. Some obviously need to follow others (end behavior for contacts, then introducing the full equipment) so there is a little bit of order there but not much.
  16. Dazzle is a wiggle-butt-kissy-snuggle-bug kind of dog. She is quite affectionate. She loves pretty much everyone but for family and well-known friends she gets especially excited to crawl into their laps and give kisses and tail wags in exchange for some pets. She is also quite happy to curl up with someone in the evening. Of course, at the slightest mention of going out and doing something - she will drop everything and go out and join the action without a second thought.
  17. Even with Dazzle (who has a medium rough coat, is black and white, and classically marked) I have people say she must be a Border Collie mix. Usually they say "you're border collie mix is so sweet!" and when I reply that she is actually all BC they think I must be lying and ask if I have papers for her and know who her parents are. The main reason they give me for thinking she is a mix is because she doesn't have enough coat, her ears are funny, she is too small, or she is too nice (???) and great in the house. If I get that kind of talk with Dazzle, I can't even imagine what some of you guys get!
  18. It's NOT a stupid question! Thinking up new words to use is not easy. Every command we have has a verbal, and most have hand signals. I have more trouble thinking of hand signals than I do thinking of words. What we are actually working on now is learning American Sign Language for hand signals (so the signal for "limp" is the ASL hand motions for "limp"). I thought that would be neat. Most of my commands are really obvious (like "roll over", "kiss", and "back up"). But now that she knows so many I am starting to get more creative. "Go Around" means to run around me, and "Reverse" means to do it backwards. As a better example of how desperate I am getting, the command for her to weave between my legs is "Figure Eight" and to do it backwards I say it backwards, so it comes out kind of like "Tierugif".
  19. I copy and paste what I want from a post into the quote tags also (using the keyboard shortcuts makes it a lot quicker ) . What you loose by doing that however is the "so and so said:" and the date part. It just shows the quote, not who said it or when. For example (because I think what I just typed was very confusing ) This is just copying and pasting the quote into the quote tags: But if you hit the reply it looks like this:
  20. Hey those are awesome weaves!! He really powers through them. Do you like how the 2x2s worked out with him?
  21. A click is just a marker, it's the promise of a reward that will come later - so at some point or another, it needs to be followed by the reward. Because Daz really does understand that "click = that behavior was good" I can do multiple clicks before giving her the reward and she still understands that (so I don't reward after every click) but I still reward about 90% of them. The click is like a bank's check - it isn't actually money, but you know that it later can be turned into money, so it is valuable to you (and you would probably be happy to work for a company if they gave you checks). But if someone gives you bad checks...well, then they are just slips of paper that are worth nothing and you would probably stop working for them pretty quickly. They promised a reward and never delivered. So the point isn't to ever stop giving the rewards for the clicks...a click isn't a reward, just the promise of one that will come later. Does that answer your question? As far as patience... I don't think of the end product of training tricks as being all that important - it is the process of getting there, the training itself, that is really the whole point. For Daz and I anyway. Trick training, IMO, should just be a game - it should be like playing with your dog and nothing more. Their lives aren't at risk if they don't shake on command (unlike a recall or other obedience and "life-skills" behaviors) so it really doesn't matter if they get it today or not. You can just relax about it and have fun with your dog. I don't have the mindset of "I'm going to teach her to limp today", but rather "I think I'll focus on paw targeting today and see what happens". If we end up with a limp, great! If not, oh well. We can try for that again later. Many times I have some idea in mind, but she offers me something totally different and we just go in that direction instead. That is actually how we ended up with the rolling up in a blanket trick. Like I said, for us it's more just about the time spent training and playing the shaping games - not so much about the end behavior. So don't worry about trying to train something in particular. Relax, smile, make sure it's fun, and if you can, just think of it as play...not as training behaviors. Okay I'm now rambling. Did that make any sense at all? Oh, and if you are interested - this video is in a contest for "Best Trick". You can vote for it once a day here if you like.
  22. What I did with Dazzle was shape her to put her paw in my hand while I was leaning over her back and then from there I held her paw up with my hand while we walked a few steps. I clicked every time she took pressure off my hand and held it up at all on her own. Even if she didn't do it completely by herself, anytime I felt less pressure she got a click. You can probably imagine, at certain points of the walk when her other front paw is on the ground she put less pressure on my hand right from the beginning, so that is where I gave her the click to start with to keep the reinforcement rate high. It didn't take longer for her to offer to hold it up more on her own for the rest of the walk too. Also right from the beginning we were moving forward a step or two so she knew motion was involved - I think that was really helpful in getting her going. I found that she did really need me to actually just hold up her paw the first few reps so she could get the feel of moving on three legs - but after those first few she quickly started not need my hand so much. You can see we still have a ways to go with that one, as she is right by my side with my hand over her while she does it, but I am finding the hand pretty easy to fade. For a while I did still have to hold my hand under her paw, although she never touched it. Then I had to hold my hand right over her back, and then to the point we are at now. So I am definitely still in the picture for her, but we are getting there!
  23. Oooooo, cool! That is a neat site. Walking a tightrope would be a fun one...
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