Monday, April 26, 2010

Anti-Cesar: fail again

I read somewhere that Cesar has "no formal training or qualifications" and therefore he's full of it.

Gasp! The horror!

Seriously... Get your head out of there, it can't be comfortable.

Of course Cesar has no formal training or qualifications. And you know what else? Major civilizations have been built by guys with no formal training or qualifications. Seriously. "Formal training" is another of those bourgeois North-Americans "we're too weak to do anything for ourselves" conceits. In just about any other time and place, you learn by watching and doing, and if you're good enough, then that's good enough. And when it comes to animal training especially, if you need "formal training", then you need to look for a different career. Like Lao Tse said, the Way that can be taught is not the real Way. If you have to be told how to train a dog, you just don't know how to train a dog, notwithstanding your little course-completion gold star. Personally I would never hire a dog trainer who had to go to school to learn to train dogs.

Come to think of it, you know who else doesn't have "formal training or qualifications"? Dogs. No, really. Maybe that's why they don't give a dog's ass whether Cesar has parchments all over the walls. Dogs don't care about credentials. Like any normal people, they only care about results.

So yeah. Cesar has no formal dog-training training. More power to him, I say.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Things I love about my shiba

She's adorable.

She's so adorable, when I'm walking around the house and I see her sleeping peacefully, I laugh out loud.

Her cuteness makes me happy.

The awesome power of cheese

Friday night, a friend came over to visit, and then we decided to go out for dinner. And it happened to be exactly at the time when Tinky-Winky usually gets her evening walk, so she lined up at the door while we were putting our shoes on. My friend doesn't have a dog, so he wasn't in that mind set, and blithely opened the door without thinking about where the dog was.


Naturally, Tinky-Winky was off like a shot. And of course my friend expected me to go chase after her.

Er... No?

My dog can run 40 km/h and she's a foot tall. There's no way I'm gonna catch her.

Seeing that I wasn't chasing the dog, my friend tried to call her back. Also something I wasn't planning on attempting myself. She's on a runaway; I really don't think she's going to turn back just because someone calls her.

Everyone expects me to chase after my dog when we're separated, and I never do. I'm never gonna catch her, but I don't need to, either. First of all she knows where her food dish is to, and second, she doesn't really want to go running around by herself. She doesn't like to walk without me, and neither do I like to walk without her. We're a pack. We go together.

So, I knew she'd be back shortly, though she still might not want to get in the house.

After a while she did come back, but then, a poodle came trotting across the parking lot. On a leash. And Tinky-Winky went to investigate.

Oh, crap.

At this point I did run after her, hoping to prevent a fight. This turned out to be unnecessary: she sniffed noses with the poodle, and then walked away. Arguably it could be because I was running toward her and she didn't want to get caught, but I doubt it. When she's going to attack, it doesn't matter to her if I'm trying to catch her.

So that was interesting... her walking up to a poofy little dog and not starting a fight.

Anyway, it was becoming quite necessary that I catch her. She came back to the door again, still with no intention of coming inside, and then I got wily. I grabbed a slice of processed cheese from the fridge. Now Tinky-Winky has selective hearing: she can't hear me calling her, but she can hear cheese from a mile away. She still wasn't about to come into the house, but now I had her attention. So I walked up to her, gave her cheese with one hand, and picked her up with the other. Voila! She never even struggled. I put her back into the house with her slice of cheese, and the rest of us went to dinner.

That's a nice thing about dogs, they're not really strategic.

How to tell if you're walking enough

When you come home from your main walk of the day, your dog should drink, eat, and fall asleep. Nothing else. If he's trying to play, he hasn't walked enough yet. And when you pick up the leash for your last walk every day, the dog shouldn't get excited. Then you go out and the dog will ask to turn around before you're thinking of it.

If your dog does these things, he's spending his energy productively in walking. If not... keep walking.

One more reason to walk your dog

I found $20 on the ground on our evening walk. Which is timely, because there's no telling when payday is nowadays. This will keep us both in kibbles for the rest of the week.

See, if I didn't walk my dog, I'd never have found $20.

Myth: wild animals never fall through

I actually read this on a Yellowknife blog during freeze-up: wild animals never fall through thin ice, because "they know somehow".

Another of the many myths you'll learn about the North if you read blogs.

If you look at the picture above, you'll notice there is ice around the duck. You know why? Because she fell through. I was watching her. She was walking carefully on the thin ice, and poof, she fell through.

Of course she's a duck, and she was walking on the ice to get to the open water anyway, so she doesn't care that she fell through. But she did fall through. Moments later a seagull being chased by a raven tried to make a fast landing on the ice and fell through as well. Again, a seagull doesn't mind falling in the water, but yes, it fell through.

Wild animals fall through thin ice, just like the rest of us. They don't have a magical ice-thickness sensor. If they're ducks and shorebirds, they don't care. If they're foxes and deer, some times they drown. C'est la vie.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Terrierman rules!

I like Terrierman. He's full of sense. Here is some Terrierman wisdom: Terrierman's Top Ten Tips for Avoiding Expense & Misery.


  1. Avoid giant breeds.

  2. Avoid "tea cup" dogs.

  3. Try to get a dog weighing less than 40 pounds.

  4. Avoid dogs with misshaped bodies.

  5. Avoid flat-faced dogs.

  6. Avoid merle-coated dogs, dogs with pure white coats, spotted dogs, and dog with blue eyes.

  7. Avoid dogs with exaggerated features.

  8. Avoid any breed with a disease named after it.
A friend of mine has a basset and is looking to buy an English bulldog. Sigh... How much do you want to spend on vet bills when these two dogs reach 7 or 8 years old? People have no sense some time. Buy a dog that looks like a dog, eh?

And this is also part of why the "she looks just like a little fox!" comment is so aggravating. Tinky-Winky looks just like a little dog. A dog is supposed to look exactly like that: proportioned body, coat to match the climate, pointy ears, pointy nose. Yes, pointy nose too. I always go "no she doesn't" and people say "it's because of the pointy nose." Dogs are supposed to have pointy noses. Having a pointy nose makes her look like a little dog, not a little fox.

It's really sad that dogs have gotten so misshapen (thanks to our efforts) that most people don't even recognize the normal shape of a dog when they see one.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The real problem is you. Again.

A while back, the What Kind of Dog Hunts crazy woman triumphantly "proved" that Cesar is evil. Thusly.

On one episode, Cesar dealt with a dog who would lash out when you try to groom him. Insert video of Cesar restraining the dog while continuing his calm assertive conversation with someone off-camera. Cesar then proceeds to solve the problem without using candy. The horror!

Meanwhile, another TV trainer whose name hasn't registered on my higher consciousness dealt with a dog who would lash out when you try to groom him. This candy-based trainer restrained the dog repeatedly, then took it to a groomer who had the same problem and did the same thing: restrained the dog. Thus obviously, Cesar is evil. Then, the candy trainer solved the problem with candy, thus "proving" that candy works? Because apparently the concept of positive reinforcement needs proving?

More importantly, and I've said it before, positive reinforcement is one of four behaviour modifications techniques, thusly:

I do something or give somethingI stop doing something or remove something
to make you do something more oftenPositive reinforcementNegative reinforcement
to make you do something less oftenPunishmentExtinction

Refer to this post if you need a clue. No one is claiming that positive reinforcement doesn't work, so you needn't waste your puny faculties proving it. But outside your little dream world of rainbow unicorns, there are still three equally effective mechanisms of behaviour modification, and you need all four of them. If you think you're using "only positive reinforcement", either you're not identifying the other three mechanisms, or you're not getting results.

Don't believe me? Let's look at the next time the candy trainer turned up on What Kind of Dog Hunts's blog. This time, the candy trainer had to deal with an aggressive dog. Candy didn't work, so she had the dog put down.



So your favourite trainer has a dog put down that someone like, say, Cesar could have taken on, and you're still convinced that she's the bestest trainer ever and candy is the end-all and be-all of dog training? You're a fool. But we knew that already.

Meanwhile, on another blog, another anti-Cesar guy watched an episode where Cesar wore out an aggressive dog over the course of three hours. Three hours. Cesar triggered the dog, the dog attacked Cesar, Cesar controlled the dog. Then they did it again. And again and again and again. After three hours, the dog was too exhausted to fight anymore... and it was still alive. And no candy was harmed in the making of this episode.

So let's see. Cesar's way: live dog with a solution. Candy trainer's way: dead dog.


Yeah: shows how smart you are.

What you're not getting here, in your little Care Bear world, is that Cesar works with aggressive dogs. "Aggressive" doesn't mean cutting in line or backstabbing at the office or whatever will get your silly little feelings hurt. Aggressive means a creature who attacks. Man, dog or horse, it's all the same. They attack, and they keep attacking.

One time I had an abusive boyfriend who yelled at me for 35 hours straight. Threats, insults, whatever. That is aggressive. Why didn't he also assault me physically? Because he knew he wouldn't get away with it; I'd have put him in jail for sure. Aggressive people, or dogs, attack when they're sure to win, not when they're sure to lose. Then one day the police had to come get him out of the house during a domestic. He attacked them, one against two cops, and laid a beating on them. One cop was injured. My ex was injured. I have PTSD. The cop also ranks it one of his nastiest experiences yet in law enforcement. They charged him with resisting arrest, he pleaded, and the judge was so incensed over the violence of his behaviour, he got 30 days with no priors. Because everyone could see the obvious: he's aggressive, and he's dangerous.

The great thing about it though, is that after that I never even had to raise my voice with him again. If he got fighty, I could say "don't you even start", and he'd leave the house and take his temper somewhere else.

What does that have to do with dogs? Because an aggressive dog, like an aggressive man, needs putting in his place. He needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if he starts a fight, he's gonna lose. Bullying is a self-rewarding behaviour, they do it because they enjoy it. Therefore they don't do it if they know it's gonna get non-enjoyable. That's what the cops taught my ex, and that's what Cesar teaches aggressive dogs.

Can you teach the same thing with candy? Absolutely not. Try being nice to an abusive boyfriend and see where that gets you. The more you give them, the more you make them happy, the more they're enjoying themselves. And the more they're going to bully you. The more candy you give them, the more they're gonna expect candy from you, but that doesn't do anything to remove the rewards of bullying. Now the dog has two ways to get happy: manipulate you to get candy, or bully you just for fun. Yay you!

Candy works. Candy works on dogs who don't like brushing or who don't sit-stay too good. And winning a fight works on aggressive dogs. What Cesar does takes a lot of work and a lot of skill to be able to win those fights with minimum injury to himself or the dog. Granted it doesn't soothe your little Care Bear psyche with candy and rainbows, but you're not actually important in this question, because you don't even understanding the word "aggressive."

Other people have pointed out that Cesar gets bitten and what he does is dangerous and therefore he's wrong. Again, that's only true if reality is irrelevant to you. Yes, Cesar gets bitten. Yes, what he does is dangerous. And either he does it, or you can get the candy trainer to come put your dog down. And you know what, cops do dangerous work and get injured, and that doesn't mean we'd be better off to get rid of cops and just give criminals a lot of candy.

One more thing. One blogger said that at his or her house, they don't do Cesar, because they "don't need alpha rolls" with their dogs. Really? Well you know what, I bet Cesar would totally agree that you don't need alpha rolls. First of all because he doesn't even do them himself, and second because your dogs aren't aggressive and they don't need an aggression abatement program. When your dogs turn aggressive, you'll know the difference. So no, you don't need Cesar's top skills. But as far as not doing Cesar's way, you're wrong. Because I read your blog and you're fairly calm and assertive, and that is what Cesar is trying to teach you. Cesar never told you to go mano a mano with an aggressive dog. What he said for you to do is be calm-assertive, and walk your dog.

So again to summarize: Cesar works with aggressive dogs. Aggressive dogs can't be fixed with candy. But what Cesar told you to do isn't to wrestle with your dog because it won't sit-stay; what Cesar said is for you to be calm-assertive and walk your dog. So the problem isn't with Cesar, it's with you having no clue what Cesar said. And therein is one of the cornerstones of cognitive therapy: people hear exactly what they want to hear, and then everything they say or do based on something they made up is warped.

Straighten out your cognitions, then you'll understand what Cesar is talking about.

Why you shouldn't dock tails

Once upon a time, docking tails was done for some utilitarian reason which eludes me. But if you have a dog with a docked tail, that's not why. Your dog got docked because it's a tradition in that breed and you didn't ask yourself why on earth you'd want to do that. But the thing is, pet dogs need to have tails. Here's why.

Today on our afternoon walk, some bulldog-like creature attacked Tinky-Winky. And for once we have right on our side, because we were on leash and minding our own business, and the creature came running at us out of nowhere, with its people trying desperately to recall it. I don't even know who struck the first blow, because I didn't have time to turn around and look, but this dog was clearly on the attack. No dog means any good by coming at another at speed with erect body language anyway; if you're one of those people who call that "my dog is friendly", you're wrong. At best your dog is rude, and that's your fault, but if your dog is just rude and clueless, it will scream and run as soon as Tinky-Winky gives a warning snap. This dog dig not turn and run. She attacked, she got the upper hand immediately, and she kept attacking.

The bulldog's person later alleged that the dog "has never done that before," and I don't believe a word of it, because this dog knew exactly what she was doing. Dogs who don't fight don't know how to fight; they get thrown down and lie on the ground screaming in fear while the other dog bites them. This dog had all the same tricks Tinky-Winky has, and she was attacking. You don't have to know anything about dog fights to see when a dog attacks: it lunges and bites, trying to grab at the other dog, instead of retreating and trying to protect itself.

Now where this has anything to do with docking tails is, a bulldog has no tail. It also has no coat. And that's a very big problem when it's attacking something else, because the way to break up a dog fight is by grabbing the attacking dog's tail. First of all, it's the only thing that sticks out of the melee, and second, it's the part least likely to get bitten, therefore the safest place to grab them.

On that note, let me point out that pulling the defending dog away is the dumbest thing you can do. Idiot people with poofy little dogs always do that: let the dog run to the end of its stupid flexi-leash and get into a fight, and then pull on it over and over to try and fix things. How dumb do you have to be? Every time you pull on the leash, the dog is choking and is being jerked off its feet, plus, you're turning the dog's head towards you, leaving the tooth-less, eye-less, vulnerable rear end to face the attacking dog. Your dog is sure to get bitten and it's all your fault. But even if you grab the dog and pull it away by something other than its leash, the attacking dog is going to keep coming, so you haven't achieved anything unless you're able to lift your dog out of harm's way, which never happens.

No, obviously, to break up a dog fight, you have to control the attacking dog. And the way to do this is to grab it by the tail. And a bulldog has no tail, and therefore it's very difficult to stop it from attacking. So this is why you shouldn't dock your pet dog's tail. You have no practical use for that dog anyway, so it's not gonna be in its way, and when your dog gets into a fight, you'll need that tail to pull him out.

Now since I'm on the topic of dog fights, I'll point out something else: blood happens. BFD. Some people go into hysterics if there is any blood on their dog, and that's ridiculous. Especially because the hysterics usually come from the same people who bleed profusely once a month to begin with (hence the word "hysterics", of course). You'd think they'd be used to blood. Not only that, but I've bled more from a paper cut than the total amount of dog blood I've ever seen in fights in all my life. If there's blood on the dog, then there's blood on the dog. It's really not a big deal. And most of all, it's probably not even that dog's blood. Most of the time it's the attacker's blood, because the thing most likely to bleed in a dog fight is the attacking dog's tongue. Tinky-Winky came out of today's fight with blood all over her; both sides, her head, her feet, she had blood everywhere. And not a nick on her skin. The other dog bit her own tongue and bled on my dog, that's all.

And even if your dog does get cut in a fight, put some Bactine or Polysporin on it like you'd do for your kid, and get over it. Your dog isn't injured because it has a little blood on it. When your dog is injured, you'll see the difference.

So that's my rant for today. Don't dock tails, learn to break up a dog fight, and get over the sight of blood.

As for closure on my anecdote, after many tries I was able to grab the bulldog's collar and push her away, and as soon as she was under control, everything was quiet. Which shows again that the bulldog was the attacker, not my dog. If Tinky-Winky had been on the attack, getting the other dog an arm's length away wouldn't have made any difference.

Then I still had to wait for a while, with a dog in each hand, for the bulldog's people to catch up to her. Polite conversation was had, the source of the blood was investigated, and then we each went our separate way. And the dogs were in no way upset. And that's another thing people in our limp-wristed society fail to realize about dog fights: dogs like dog fights. Not all dogs, and not usually if they get their clock cleaned, but a fairly even dog fight where both dogs are fighters is like a bar fight among humans. It happens, it lets a lot of the piss and vinegar out, and it's often the least boring thing you'll do all weekend.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Perks of living where we live

Tinky-Winky and I had to take a plane today. There were three dogs on the plane and they all got window seats.

And if you're a fan of Ice Pilots NWT, you'll recognize this man as Joe, The Boss. I wanted a picture of two celebrities together... clearly they're thrilled to make each other's acquaintance.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Muzzle: still fail

I thought I had solved the muzzle problem by creating a hand-tied one. After all, hand-knotted halters were very fashionable when I had a horse, why not a hand-knotted dog muzzle? Clearly it could use some fine-tuning, but if you really want to know, it's like this: first a bowline in the bight for an adjustable noseband, then the two ends are tied together in a Carrick bend at the back of the head; then the free ends are seized each to one standing line with a hangman's knot, and from there diagonally to the top of the noseband where they are tied together again with a Carrick bend, with the noseband seized through it; then the free ends go back through the hangman's knots and are stopped with a figure-eight.

At first the creature was unable to take it off, so she lay on the floor miserably pretending to be dead, like this:

As long as we're on the leash, she fights with the muzzle like a fury, but as soon as I let her off, she pretty much forgets about it and goes running around as she normally would. Yay, victory!


So I thought. It worked well for two days, and then she attacked a dog. For no particular reason, that I know. It wasn't even a small poofy dog. So she went at it a few times and then realized she couldn't bite, ran away, and lay down again in her "poor pitiful puppy" attitude.

When she came back a few minutes later, she had gotten the noseband off again.


Fine. I put it back on and tightened it, and she ignored it for the rest of the walk. But the next day she saw a dog again, so she ran away, and came back with her muzzle undone again. I put it back on and she went to remove it right away, so I saw how she's doing it. She gets a claw under the side and pulls it across her nose. It squishes her poor little nose all out of shape, but she's motivated. And there is nothing else I can think of to stop the muzzle coming off that way. I don't even think a basket muzzle would stand up to it.

Blah. I thought finding out the muzzle stops her from biting would motivate her to quit fighting; instead it just motivates her to try harder to get the muzzle off. That's how determined she is to fight with other dogs.

This isn't a good thing.