We have been videotaping dog-dog play for more than 10 years and, together with our colleagues, have analyzed hundreds of hours of data to test hypotheses about play. We present our results at animal behavior conferences and publish in scientific journals. Here, we focus primarily on dog play that some might consider “inappropriate” or “not safe.”
Since this blog ended up being taken over by my snakes, I went ahead and created a separate blog for my dog sports, training, and other dog related topics.
I’ll post about positive reinforcement training, a variety of sports (mondioring, IPO, Dock diving, and weight pulling to name a few), and of course share pictures of my 4 legged family. German Shepherds and American Pit Bull Terriers being my breeds of choice.
If any of that interests you, please do check it out. :3 My new blog is:
Thank you! ^_^
I thought since it was shedding season and probably some folks are sick of the hair, I’d post a guide to grooming tools. Not all tools are made equal and what will be best depends on your dog’s coat type.
A standard metal comb is best for long-haired breeds - yorkies, maltese, shih tzus, lhasas etc. Especially curly coat types such as poodles and bichons, this is the main tool you should be using and you should be able to start at the skin and pull the comb through your dog’s coat to the ends without snagging to remain matt free. If your dog needs to be combed, you should be doing it daily to prevent matts.
If you DO get matts, depending on how severe, you can remove them fairly easily with another tool.
An undercoat rake like this will remove large matts and is especially useful on dogs like golden retrievers, newfies, collies, shelties, and any other dog that has tufty long flagging on the rear and under the belly. As long as you keep the blunt side of the blade against the dog, it’s a lot safer than it looks, but watch your fingers. I damn near sliced one of mine off with one of these once.
A matt breaker is a similar idea to the matting rake, but it’s much smaller and better for small dogs and sensitive areas such as the face or in the armpits or behind the ears.
If the matting is severe than you should consider shaving your dog instead of dematting. It’s not particularly pleasant and you shouldn’t force your dog to tolerate a full-body dematting. Yes, your dog will be a little naked, but the hair will grow back. If you’d like to keep it longer in the future, invest in the first tool on my list and use it every day.
If your dog has a double coat, DO NOT SHAVE IT. Your dog’s coat will never grow back the same, you’ll make your dog hotter in the summer, colder in the winter, and you’ll expose them to sunburn. If you can’t stand the shedding and that’s your argument, there are alternatives and shaving will not stop your dog from shedding, it’ll just make the hair that’s shed out shorter.
A Kong brand “Zoom Groom” tool is best for dogs with a short, flat coat type: boxers, mastiffs, rotties, bullies, beagles, and labs. It will pull out dead hair like you wouldn’t believe and it’s extremely non-abrasive so most dogs really enjoy being brushed with this tool.
A shedding blade is another tool good for shedding dogs with short flat coats. If your dog’s coat resembles a horse’s coat, this tool will work well for you.
Furminators are pretty great if your dog is shedding. However, you must use caution with them. They are extremely abrasive brushes and if you have a heavy hand with them you’ll give your dog brush burn. They come in long and short haired options, so choose appropriately for your dog.
An undercoat rake is good for long-haired double coated dogs - goldens, collies, newfies and also nordic breeds and spitz type dogs. Like the Furminator, you must be gentle with this tool as it can be very abrasive if you brush too heavily. You should always monitor your dog’s skin during long periods of brushing and stop if you see signs of irritation.
This brush is useless. Don’t fucking waste your money on this piece of junk.
A slicker brush is a finishing tool more than anything. It’s good for backbrushing if you’re trying to cut hair, and it’s nice for picking up dead hair that you’ve loosened up with another brush, and it’s great for smoothing down a coat at the end of everything, but this is an accessory tool. This should not be your main brush and you shouldn’t try to dematt with it.
I saved this brush for last because it’s not a brush it’s a magic fucking wand. You want a brush that can tackle single and double coats alike? Boom, the stripper tool is your pal. You want a brush that can break up matts? Check. Remove undercoat from long OR short hair? Checkarino. Want a brush that you can really go to town on brushing your dog without fear of scraping the first 3 layers of your dog’s skin off before you’re done. This. Is. Your. Tool. This is everyone’s tool. Buy this tool.
Seriously, it is worth every single penny you will pay for it and I love mine more than I love any other thing in my groomer tool box. As you can see the number of blades varies and the price goes up with the number of blades. These are also great for wire-coated dogs that should be hand-stripped instead of shaved - schnauzers, cairns, westies, pointing griffons. This will made carding the coat a dream and they’re way easier to handle than the stripper knives - but that’s coming from a lefty and I cannot for the life of me find a lefty set of stripper knives, so I’m a little biased.
But hopefully this helps someone out there who is drowning in a sea of hair. If that’s the case, you should also give your dog a bath, use a conditioner which will loosen up the undercoat for you and blow-dry your dog with a forced air dryer if they’ll let you. This will cut down significantly on the amount of brushing you have to do. You should only brush your dog when they are 100% bone dry. Brushing a wet dog increases the risk of injuring your dog with an abrasive tool and is a million times less effective.
They will have live streaming at http://caninescience.info/
Just a general FYI:
If you’re having problems with clicker training, it doesn’t mean clicker training is bad - it means you’re bad at training lmao. It happens. You can’t just pick up a clicker and expect to be good, just like you wouldn’t expect a green rider to be able to get up on a horse and immediately be able to train it to 2nd level dressage. It’s not something you can just know how to do.
Training is a mechanical skill. And if you’ve been training with negative reinforcement and positive punishment the entire time up to your venture into clicker training and the world of positive reinforcement, you are going to mess up. You are going to make mistakes. You are going to inadvertently train behaviors you didn’t mean to train. It fucking happens. The only way to fix that, is to do it more and to get better.
A friend recently shared a flyer from Bark Busters, a dog training franchise business. It is called “Barking: The Facts” and can be seen at this link. (This is a special link to avoid raising their incoming click stats and you may see your browser redirected. Don’t worry.)
The flyer made me interested so I set out to investigate the methods of this franchise.
The main pages on the Bark Busters website have wording that appeals to the many people who want to get their dogs to behave without hurting or scaring them, including the following:
- “Positive relationship”
- “Lasting emotional bond”
- “Communicate effectively”
- “Consistency and natural techniques”
- “Reinforce and strengthen the bond”
- “Develop pleasant, obedient nature”
- “Happy lifelong buddy”
Sounds pretty good, so far, except for the fact that they don’t mention exactly how they help you achieve all this. But there are a few more red flags:
- “Pack leader”
- “Transform a problem dog…often in only a matter of hours”
- “All without treats or the need for harsh punishment”
Hmm,thanks to the analyses of those who have made a study of how to judge dog trainers by their own descriptions of what they do, we actually have quite a bit to worry about here.
Very informative - the link within the article on how to read your new dog trainer and analyse their philosophy made me sit back for a minute and think about how I will word my own training philosophy.
Bark Busters is a familiar name to me. Mostly, I see it online; people mentioning it as a positive training boot camp. After reading a breakdown of their methods and seeing exactly what they do, it is clear this is not positive reinforcement training. They are actually doing quite an amazing job straddling the fence right in between positive reinforcement and fear-based dominance. From a business standpoint, this is a smart move that probably nets them more clients that are moderate dog owners, not on the further end of either side of the spectrum. However, blowing a fog horn at your dog to get it to halt a behaviour is not positive reinforcement. Learning how to yell in a growling voice at your dog is not positive reinforcement.
It is very important to understand how trainers use words. We love dogs, but training is a business and business is about money. The training world, as I’m sure must be very obvious by now if you’ve stuck with me for any length of time, is riddled with people just out to make money and not concerned with human-canine bond. Education is the best way to shield yourself from the advances of greedy trainers pushing methods you do not wish to have used on your dog.
This video is about dogs, but it does a great way of picking apart the fallacy of dominance in training, and I think a lot of equestrians could use a watch.
The first bit is just fun, but towards the end, she makes a lot of good points.
She defines dominance as acting aggressively towards another animal in order to gain access to a desired resource. She specifies that in the wild, these (food, water, etc) are limited and therefore dominance is about survival. We provide all of these resources to our animals. Therefore, dominance is a moot point.
She also points out the unfortunate side effects of using intimidation in training, including overarousal, stress, fear, and aggression. These apply in training any species of animal.
My favorite point she makes is that ‘every time you use intimidation, your animal finds you less reinforcing’.
Ultimately, we have animals because we love them. We want them to love us back. But when you treat your animal poorly, even in the name of training, it degrades that relationship over time. If you train using aversive stimuli, your presence will become aversive to them. I see this all the time with horses that refuse to be caught. This is because the presence of people has become punishing to them. It doesn’t matter how much you love your horse if your training poisons the entire relationship.
Find out what motivates the individual dog. Your dog loves tug? Use playing tug’o’war as a reward. Your dog likes sniffing? Use sniffing as a reward. You just have to work with your dog to figure out what it’s willing to work for.