Friday, July 21, 2017

Eosinophilic Furunculosis update

Skin healed, fur regrown, scars still visible but not noticed unless you're looking for them.
May 2017

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gorgeous pins for a good cause

A close friend of mine needs some financial help to take her palliative dog on a trip to visit family this fall, and has had some gorgeous buttons designed for fundraising. Check out her gofundme page here,
Or email me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ken Ramirez seminar from 2013

Thoughts, questions and notes:

Saturday (Day 1)

I sometimes feel an urge to spend a few dollars on something small and not really necessary. Not like, "Oh, I really want that shiny thing", more like "I want to go buy $10 in something, I wonder what is around". It's strange. I wonder if I spend money to renew the association between money and primary/tangible reinforcers? I don't do much of my "life sustaining" spending, so maybe I should grocery shop more? Would this help?

Conditioning Clapping as a substitute reinforcer
**I should do this as an educational exercise for myself**
With each step, keep the previous step as well - even when you move on, you don't stop practicing the step(s) before

  • Train the dog to accept clapping - train it as a behaviour (they don't leave, get bored, etc)
  • Be sure they learn that they don't need to do anything "Just sit there and stare at me"
  • Clap, feed, pause, clap, feed, pause
  • Then mix into behaviours - clap, feed, sit, feed, down, feed, clap feed, etc
  • Continue until its clear that the clapping is accepted by the animal - they watch/listen and don't offer behaviour or wander away
  • Just like any other behaviour, when they're reliable in a controlled environment, start taking it to new places
  • Weeks and weeks of clapping and treating in with other behaviours - varies greatly based on frequency of training, animal's unique background, etc
    • THEN - continue using clapping as a behaviour in regular training
    • introduce an easy, well established behaviour, followed by clapping, feed
    • Sit, clap, feed OR Sit, click, clap, feed (if clicker is used) - use different behaviours, not just Sit.. switch up between other easy behaviours to generalize it as a skill
    • Do this very occasionally. Once or twice per session, others all get immediate food.
      • THEN
      • Easy, well established behaviour, followed by clapping. Move onto cuing the next behaviour,
        • Only max 3x per session
        • Most of the time food still comes after behaviours

          • THEN
          • introduce clap-feed after harder well established behaviours, then transition to just clap alone - hard behaviours are probably hard because they're chains in some way

          • gradually use clap alone more than max 20% of a session average
  • Example session: 15 minutes - 10 minutes of serious guide dog work, then "break" from formal work to work on "fun" things for last 5 minutes, and in the midst of it all, adding reinforcement substitutes throughout the session

  • With animals who have learned several (4 or 5) secondary reinforcers already, you can add more at the same time. At first, introduce them one at a time.
  • With animals who have more than one trainer, teaching the new behaviour is best done with one trainer to start with. Once they know clap as a behaviour, everyone can use it. Original trainer will keep moving up the steps, then as each step becomes reliable, other trainers can start to use it gradually. They need to establish it for themselves, but it will go much more quickly for the next trainer.
  • Rules: (clapping as example)
    • Never use clapping after two consecutive behaviours
    • Don't use clapping twice in a row if you have other non-foods to choose from (sit, clap, down, feed, sit, feed, touch, conditioned tactile,...)
    • Always ask for a behaviour followed by Primary MORE than clapping (Sit, clap, down, feed, touch, feed, sit, clap -- will pattern and weaken behaviours)
    • Use clapping as a behaviour more often than as a reinforcer

Four options of reinforcers: Food (nutrition), Treat (not nutritionally complete), Learned, Toy (that you don't think you've conditioned)
  • Choosing takes experience as a trainer to know which one to choose
  • There's nothing that is ALWAYS a reinforcer for any individual animal - illness, etc -- so establish a variety of reinforcers so you have options
  • Variable schedule: Pay attention to what the science says. Variable schedules don't make behaviour stronger, they just make it more resistant to extinction
  • Allows you to work a longer duration without treats
justification for pets using food: its important for new trainers AND new animals to use fixed food schedule to start with, to build relationship Everybody starts on a consistent schedule of reinforcement
??? You said you can change duration of behaviour and that's not variable reinforcement. Explain? Is teaching heeling with 1 step, then 2 steps, etc a continuous schedule? What about when you get to 30 or 40 steps? Is this still continuous? Huh?
??? Is a variable schedule not cue, beh, cue, beh, reward, cue, beh, etc? How is this different from step 4: using cues as reinforcers ?... what does science call a variable schedule, then?

  • Re frustration- he doesn't purposely introduce frustration, trains without as much as possible which creates confident animals who can then cope with new/strange environments even if some frustration does happen
  • This is similar to the idea of training errorlessly to confidence and fluency, then the behaviour will generalize easily to new environments?

  • The action is the reinforcer. What action is the dog enjoying with the object? ie: ball - chewing is a reward, so a concrete ball wouldn't be reinforcing
  • Figure out what action is reinforcing to use toys more effectively
  • To condition toys: "Here's a toy, now PLAY"
  • Presentation of the toy is a LEARNED reinforcer. Let them play/chew/chase, or it won't be a reinforcer.
  • ??Can the presentation of the ball be conditioned to be a reward even without following it with play? Of course it can. So what about presenting food without eating it?
  • Analogy: Doors are primary reinforcers - no they're not, the access to the area the door provides is. The door that leads somewhere fun is reinforcing. the closet door is not.
  • ??? Some dogs have many motivations for playing with toys: chase, chew, tug,... yes?
  • is the duration of the posession of the ball part of the reward for reiker, and why he can drop easier when the ball is farther away?
  • ??Is there an issue with conditioning secondary reinforcers with one primary, then following with a different reinforcer?
    • in the right condition, with the right animal, he would, but he wouldn't teach it that way. If the dog likes them equally, there is the potential to mix them. Every animal has a priority, so it's a dangerous thing to do unless you REALLY know your dog's hierarchy of reinfforcement. You can inadvertently end up making something seem less reinforcing by the way you use it. You can get away with it if you do it well and carefully, exceeding expectations is less dangerous. Once you teach a dog to accept reinforcement variety, they're much more willing to accept a variety without frustration or disappointment.

**I need to start working archie teaching new behaviours with tug as a reward**
  • Expectations can be taught and changed. Teach the dog to expect all the reinforcers you need/want to use so the dog will be reinforced by what you use!!!
  • ???Exceeding expectations can have postive unexpected results a la Chirag single trial learning?
  • even if the dog loves the toy, if they're in pain it may not be --- malinois exceptions. lol
  • ***Archer's ball play was diluted? Shorter hand-throws were not as valuable as longer ones, so without recharge, it's become less valuable. Fix it by playing short throw then long throw x500**

  • For Raegan: Ken says "If it's working, you're doing it right"... a la raegan

  • Delta - car example - ding to tell you if you don't turn off lights, car will be dead. He is never happy when he hears it. I am, since I don't have a reminder and my car has died several times. Thoughts?

  • ??In the hyena example, would there have been a difference if she'd just recued without the ahahah?
  • ??Time outs: If the dog is tethered, jumps, you move away, dog settles, you move closer... Is this a time out situation? Fall out? Positive reinforcement? WTF?
  • ???How do you use an LRS when you're also using delayed reinforcement for competition???
    • the lrs is effective when the dog is looking at you for feedback. they can't tell the difference between "waiting for a longer duration behaviour" vs "waiting to give LRS when they mess up". Use redirection insteada of LRS in these situations, but if you're using it all the time, you may reinforce the unwanted behaviour, so look at the longer term strategy of problem solving to chance the dog's motivation for the behaviour. If the dog is not looking at you for feedback, you CANNOT USE an LRS
  • ??Jumping on people - LRS with tether? IS this a thing?
  • **whats the difference between DRA for sitting while backing away to extinctionify jumping, and LRS, and time out?***
  • When the animal is engaged in something self reinforcing, the LRS is not an effective tool
  • DRI - especially useful for aggression
  • DRO - similar to nilif? Waiting for the dog to do something you want before giving it something you're going to give it anyway?
  • DRL - click to calm's shaping away from aggression. This is the part i don't like, i think, and ken thinks its dangerous without a really skilled trainer, but he saw emma do it well - he realized that he does use it all the time, for cooperating in their own health care. In the early stages, he's reinforcing them when they're a bit less fidgety, eventually working up to stillness if the animal is always difficult or struggling, then struggles LESS, if you're good at it, you can shape calm
  • ???emma parson's method of DRL in aggression, better than not putting the dog over threshold to begin with? :S

SUNDAY  (Day 2)

Problem solving: Determining the cause

  • 8 categories:

    • environmental - weather, changes in the facility (rearranging furniture in home), prop changes, public activity 
    • social - dominance/submissiveness, aggression, competition, sexual activity 
    • psychological - boredom, neurotic/aberrant behaviour 
    • Physical - health, body capabilities (changes in sight, flexibility, etc) 
    • Trainer - skill level, basics (cues, marker, reinforcers), emotions, attitude 
    • session use - planning, number of sessions, frequency of sessions, pacing, balance of reinforcement (where reinforcement usually comes from - indoors/outdoors, time of day, location, etc) 
    • regression - normal part of the learning curve (learn a whole bunch then forget a little) 
    • desensitization - an ongoing process that never ends. you can never desensitize an animal to everything. 

Reinforcers: treats, toy, finding victim
Punishers: Distractions, task too difficult, past incident

Add to reinforcers: Easy task 
Remove distractions to see if it's relevant
Sometimes, one punisher can outweigh lots of reinforceres if you can't remove the punisher, you can set it up so the punisher has less of an effect (more trials, give them time to recover from an incident, etc)
If you remove all the punishers, and the problem isn't going away, you're likely missing one of the punishers or your reinforcers are not reinforcing

in example, making the task easy actually became punishing because the dog did not enjoy the easy finds

???Even when you change behaviour with consequences, you still have to shield your animal from the triggers/antecedents so the behaviour doesnt come back. Desensitization to triggers as well???

Shoot the dog technique: not actually training, but can refer to giving the animal away, discontinue training and live with the problem, divorced marriage, i thought he was going to make a point about this, but he never did. he just explained what it was.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Managing inter-household aggression - An example

I met Kate on Facebook and she described an amazing management plan for her inter-household aggression between two dogs. I asked her to share photos and descriptions!

Kate described how her dogs Calamity and Annie got along for four years, then had three separate fights within a few weeks. Kate's words:

After that, we had to keep them separated. We have an 8 year old in the house and not enough room to have an airlock type situation (the only rooms my boyfriend and I have available to keep them apart are our room and the livingroom) and accidents happen. So we converted the shed for Annie.

Alright, so the shed is a workshop/shed/doggy apartment. We cleared out one whole half of it and stored a bunch of stuff up in the rafters after closing them in.

We consolidated the workshop to one side of the shed

On the other side, we bought two cheap rugs for the carpet, moved a futon in and set it up, moved her crate into the shed, set up a little side table...

The futon is mainly there for the humans. Annie is a very needy dog and she's used to her dad (my boyfriend) being home with her all day. So when she moved to the shed, we got some valium from the vet for her on an as needed basis for separation anxiety (not clinical for her, just mild). We ended up not needing to use it after a couple times during the first few days. We took turns spending most of the day out there with her and one or both of us would sleep out there at night. Over time we let her stay out there by herself for longer and longer periods during the day and eventually graduated to her spending part of the night, then the whole night out there by herself (my boyfriend doesn't work so we had the luxury of him changing his sleep schedule so she could go from half-nights to full nights alone). We have a computer system down there as part of the workshop. I set up a Skype account just for Annie so that we could monitor her from the house via Skype to make sure that she was not freaking out and so we could plan accordingly for longer periods of alone time or back tracking to shorter periods of time. Here she is relaxing on the futon - this is a screenshot from my computer watching her in the shed.

We already had an a/c unit down there and set up one of those little space heaters recently when it got colder. We will need to insulate the shed or get her back in the house before it gets really cold this winter. I am hoping by that time we can be using management in the house. Both dogs need to learn to relax in a crate for long periods, Annie needs to be fully acclimated to her muzzle, and both dogs need to be ok baby gated in a room away from us. Then we can do crate/rotate/muzzle with both dogs sharing a space.

I would like to work on structured non-muzzled/non-management activities like relaxing on mats next to each other. I am also going to go through a RG protocol with both of them. I am wary because Annie's triggers seem to be globalizing (from bones to human food to toys or resting places - I forgot to mention there was a toy on the bed when Annie attacked Calamity the third time, but toys had never been an issue even with other dogs).

I don't know how far we will be able to come sans-management. Probably only very structured exercises because I don't think I will ever be able to trust them both loose in the house without them actively doing something (like a mat exercise, etc). We'll see.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Puppy preparation!

How to prepare your home for your puppy! This family has children and runs an in-home daycare, so they've been very thoughtful about preparations for their new Pointer pup. They gave me permission to share their preparation photos!

Books books and more books. Book to help us select out breed, breed specific books, puppy training books and of course a name book :)

Doggy do list. 

Kitchen table pre-puppy preparations

Smaller table put in to make room for puppy :)

Puppy's food and drink area now fits nicely on the left of the table! Take note of the "non-bowl" feeding gadget! 

Up close photo of pup's eating zone. 

Food storage !

Treats for training, to be used along side her regular meal kibble. 

Making room in the family room for our new family member!

Lucky to have such a handy husband. He made this beautiful frame for pup's doggy bed. 

Toy storage and a few of pups toys. Lots of different textures to hopefully curb chewing on furniture ha ha. Ducky, kong rubber dental chew, antler, bully stick, nylabone, and whatever that orange thing is called ;)
<Courtenay's note: It's a Retrieving Bumper>

More of our doggy supply collection. Already has her own drawer! Brushes, travel water bowl, nail clippers, tooth brush and paste, and another food toy. Also extra collar and more of those orange things. 

Pups crate. Located in our master bedroom.

Leash collar and doo doo bags. Soooo excited for that part ;)

Downstairs daycare business area. Gated off " puppy zone" to the right of the photo. 

Close up of the " puppy zone" in the daycare

More toys, water bowl and bed located in pups safe zone in the daycare. 

Posters printed off dr Sophia's website regarding kids and dogs.
<Courtenay's note: I love the sharpie-edits to the posters!>

 We bought a large dog pen for the yard to last until we can get the fence fixed on the hill.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Belated West Updates!

Photos from his two-year adoption anniversary!

Some days I feel like this

But most days I feel like this

Or this

I love those long walk on the beach

Always something new to dicover

More pics:

Adorable recent video:

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A new harness

For Christmas, Reiker and I got some new gear.

This fall, I got a dog scooter and Reiker and I were having fun with it, but my x-back harness doesn't fit him and the regular nylon harness we were using just wasn't a good idea long term. So, we needed something else.

After looking around at several sites, I really liked the Urban Trail harness by Alpine Outfitters. They offer a starter kit for scootering that includes a tow line, a collar and a belt for humans!

I really, really like the belt. It has no plastic parts at all, and the clasp is such that when I (or a dog) pull on the belt, it tightens into the webbing so it can't come loose by mistake. My least favourite thing about most pet waist-leash belts is that they have plastic clips, slides, clasps, etc.

This one is also padded and super comfy. I bet I could wear it with just a thin tshirt underneath without chafing/hurting me.

Reiker LOVES this harness. We can't scooter (it's icy outside) but I have gone running with him a tiny bit with it. We also have been using it for tug games, and it is fabulous for taking pressure off his neck.

Using the flyball handle Alpine put on the harness for me.

With the Premier harness and the EZdog harness, he would sometimes choke or cough when the harness would come up under his chin and put pressure on his throat. This harness doesn't do that at all, even when I'm letting him lean into it with his front feet off the ground. And it's super secure.
The harness does do up with two plastic clips, because I specifically wanted the adjustable version. It fits a bit loose how it's adjusted now, and I might tighten it a bit to see how Reiker feels about it. We love it, seriously.

We also got this fancy limited slip collar with a huge O ring and my phone number embroidered on it. It's somehow become his everyday wear collar, and I use it for tying him out as well (He's inside a fenced yard, the tie out is for additional security). I LOVE the Oring. Why don't all collars have O instead of D rings? This is an awesome idea.

He's wearing it here.. I made the photo big so you can really see it.
You can just see the phone number embroidery on the collar under his fur!

We haven't used the towline much yet. I have used it hooked to the belt and harness, and the bungee is great. It's supposed to be reflective so I want to play with it in the dark. Mostly, it's for the scooter, so that will have to wait until spring.
It is NOT intended to be held by hand, and it's very rough. The couple of times I have grabbed it with my hand, I've regretted it, so no more of that!!

Disclaimer: I received this product as a gift from a friend, with no connection to Alpine.