This is an extremely emotive topic and causes arguments, personal attacks on individuals, bullying, and in some cases death threats, which seems absolutely crazy to me. I 100% stand in the camp that wouldn’t use an E-Collar to train a dog. It doesn’t mean I don’t know how they work, but I agree I am not an expert in their use, and I would never want to be. I don’t think I am a better human than people who use an E-Collar. I do know you would be very very hard pressed to change my mind and would need to show me scientific evidence that using an E-Collar would be beneficial and not harmful to the dog. I don’t automatically believe that people who use a shock collar are mean or don’t love dogs. I would even be happy sit down with some people who use a shock collar to discuss dog training. I have an acquaintance who might use a shock collar, and I still believe they have value as a dog trainer although I don’t agree with these type of tools or their use. Aside for the use of e-collars I believe there are areas where we agree on dog training.
E-Collars. Shock Collars. Training Collars. Whatever you want to call them it amounts to the same thing. They are designed to cause an unpleasant stimulus to the wearer to either stop a behaviour or obtain a specific behaviour. Those who say it doesn’t cause pain, or discomfort, or an unpleasant stimulus are wrong. I don’t often out rightly say people are wrong so I don’t take this lightly – it has to cause something unpleasant to the dog for it to work.
There is 100% science to say using a shock collar to train a dog works. Sadly there is no denying that BUT what about the welfare of the dog and is using an aversive as effective as positive reinforcement training methods.
Studies have shown that positive reinforcement training is more effective at modifying undesirable behaviour than using an E-Collar and the efficacy of positive reinforcement was better than when either an e-collar, or a mixed training method was used.
The argument around the use of E-Collars often includes stopping undesirable behaviours particularly around highly motivating behaviours such as chasing wildlife. In one study it showed that the behaviours come and sit were obeyed on the first command more often in the positive reinforcement training than when other training methods were used. This suggests that recall is trained more effectively via positive reinforcement than with the use of an E-Collar.
Use of an aversive tool raises the issue of welfare. In surveys comparing training methods, owners who used positive punishment or negative reinforcement were more likely to report aggression in their dog.
Researchers also found that dogs which have been trained using negative reinforcement are more likely to display stress related, and avoidance behaviours. It was also noticed these dogs were less likely to look at their owners than those trained via positive reinforcement.
Use of E-collars has been shown to cause an increase in the behavioural signs of distress, which increases as the device settings are increased. In addition, dogs who are trained with either aversive or mixed (aversive and positive) training methods showed greater increases in cortisol levels in salvia after training than dogs trained entirely with rewards. This study concluded that it is better for the welfare of the dog to avoid training with aversive tools.
I will never put an E-Collar, Invisible Boundary Collar, or Bark Collar on one of my dogs or a client’s dog. I will not sell E-Collars, Bark Collars, or Invisible Boundary systems on a dog no matter the profit margin or demand.
What is it like to have a reactive dog?! How much work is involved in owning a fearful dog?!
Friend of the Active Outlet, Diesel, got his mum to write a blog post about what it is like to be his mum.
In 2017 I brought home a 4-year-old Staffy Cross. According to previous owners he was fine with other dogs - after all, he was with a staffy on the property when I first saw him!
I was excited to introduce him to my friend and her senior white shepherd and bearded collie. I brought him into the house first and then later let the two bigger dogs in. It didn't feel right, and he ended up jumping up and nipping the shepherd on the ear. We took them for a walk, but they seemed to walk together ok?
Then a few months later I was out of town visiting my parents, and we took him to a park with other dogs off leash. I was a bit nervous after the incident with my friends' dog. We played fetch and he seemed ok. But when another dog ran from the other side of the park directly at him, he dropped his ball and almost instantly attacked it. He did let go before I got there, but it was done. The owner of the other dog ran straight past her dog and kicked Diesel in the tummy with all her might. This was so traumatising for both Diesel and I, and I never really got over that.
He was never very pleasant to walk on lead - always has to be out front and pulled like a tank. It didn't matter how much training I did with him, whenever we were out walking, he just would not walk next to me, or at a slower speed.
The next 12 months were such a struggle. Literally blood, sweat and tears were shed. His destructive behaviour in my house when I went to work, with not being able to settle - all day (I installed cameras in the house).
I was desperate and reached out to some trainers. We did 2 x Feisty Fido courses and learned some management skills when encountering other dogs.
I was learning more and more about something called reactivity, fear aggression, signs of a fearful or anxious dog. It appears that Diesel is the rarest sociability type for dogs (~10%). He is Dog aggressive. Little to no tolerance of other dogs, and it will always result in an aggressive response if the dog gets within about 30-40 meters.
This requires extra management of him, and my head to be on a swivel when I am out with him.
Because of this side to him, I am unable to take him to off-leash areas / dog parks, or just anywhere there could be a remote possibility of running into an off-leash "friendly" dog. And sadly, this includes "On Leash Only" sports fields. I live next to a sports field and almost every day there are people there with their dogs running around off leash, and most of the time, they have no recall. But because "It's ok, he's friendly", they think it is fine for their dog that lacks manners or social skills to come bowling up to my boy.
Then in 2022 after only being in the other room on my spin bike which makes him go nuts, I finished my session 50 minutes later to find he had chewed through a door frame and some of the door, then later jumped on my bed and ripped my duvet cover. That was the last straw - I was at my wits end with this type of behaviour. I contacted Lucy Scott, from Veterinary Behaviour Services NZ. We talked all about the struggles I've had with him, and she recommended I take him to the vet and ask about medication. We ended up coming away with some Fluoxetine. 3-4 weeks later he is a different dog! He no longer pulls like a tank on walks, and he is way more relaxed at home when I go out. It has not solved his feelings towards other dogs, but he is not in a constant state of fear and anxiety.
It dawned on me that the reason he pulled so hard during walks was because he was incredibly anxious and fearful, which made me so sad. I have learned his body language and responses pretty well over the last 4.5 years and know that his aggressive response to other dogs is purely to make himself seem all scary so the other dog will go away. Even if that means running straight towards it to try to attack. There are some occasions that if the dog is far enough away, he will pull to run in the other direction. He will still do that now while on medication, if the other dog is close enough, but I now know that this is a huge internal struggle for him.
When we are at home, he is the most loving, affectionate and obedient boy you could ask for. If you sit on the floor, he will 100%, be in your space looking for cuddles or sit/lie down next to you leaning all over you. He is the same with my partner, and my parents. With anyone he gets to know, he just wants your cuddles (once he knows you are a safe person that isn't going to hurt his mama or him). He loves to play and like any dog is so overjoyed to see me when I get home.
Sometimes I am sad that he can't socialise and be around other dogs safely, but then, he shouldn't have to be! He deserves to be able to be left alone to just sniff and experience being out when we are walking. It's not socially acceptable for humans to run up to a stranger and introduce themselves and get in their personal space, so why should we allow this to happen to our dogs? I just wish people at the very least would follow council laws and be courteous to other people and their dogs. It is just not ok to let your "friendly" dog run up to another dog they don't know. Especially when they are on a leash. Apart from not being tolerant of other dogs, they could be recovering from illness/injury, in training, or just plain nervous.
Puppies generally love dogs. Every single dog they meet. Everyone is their friend and they love being social but this doesn’t last forever.
Dogs have a spectrum of sociability and very few of them are friendly with every single dog they meet. So yelling “Don’t worry he is friendly” has zero relevance.
Your dog may be friendly but that doesn’t mean he will get along with every single dog he will meet in his life.
There are essentially four types of dogs in terms of sociability. Sociability is not a fixed trait, it changes as they mature. Social maturity occurs around 12 – 36 months depending on the breed. Larger breeds develop later. Once a dog goes through social maturity you will have the dog that you’ll have for life barring any super negative experiences. On the other hand well managed social interactions can help improve dog’s sociability to a certain degree.
Dog Social – this is where most puppies start but after social maturity only about 10% of dogs fall in to this category. They enjoy seeking out other dogs and are tolerant of poor or rude behaviour. A true dog social adult dog is quite rare.
Dog Tolerant – These dogs, approximately 40% of all dogs, get along with most dogs. They have good communications skills and are fairly tolerant about poor or rude behaviour. They may be playful or neutral. They do require some supervision. This group of dog tends to do quite well on lead around other dogs.
Dog Selective – This group of dogs is equally as common as Dog Tolerant so approximately 40% of all dogs. These dogs have a selection of approved dog friends. Disagreements tend to break out quite easily as these dogs may have a short fuse. Dog selective dogs will have a certain style of play and will get upset by types of play they don’t like – often get described as “fun police” or the “instigator” because they often set the rules for a play session. These dogs tend to not cope well being on lead around other dogs and require supervision and a lot of positive direction.
Dog Aggressive – This is an extremely rare trait to see in puppies and is fairly uncommon in adult dogs at about 10% of dogs. This dogs have a very limited circle of friends or none at all. They have very poor social skills and can be quite reactive on lead. Dog aggressive dogs need a lot of supervision, support, and patience while relying on a lot of direction from their owners. I don't think these dogs are all necessarily aggressive by nature. However, anxious or fearful behaviour in a high stress situation may be shown as aggression as a mechanism of self protection.
It is important to remember that sociability isn’t a fixed trait as dogs mature they become less social and tolerant just like us!
This is just one factor on whether your dog will get on with others. Sociability will change depending on experience. It is easy for a dog to slip down from being Dog Social to Dog Aggressive with a few negative experiences but it is harder to get a down to move up the sociability scale to become more sociable.
Now imagine that your dog is running toward a dog on a lead and you are yelling “It is ok he’s friendly!” The best case scenario is that the other dog is Dog Social but the likelihood that it is, is pretty slim. If it is Dog Selective that unwanted interaction could push the other dog to become Dog Aggressive in the future. The other dog could be Dog Aggressive and the owner is out walking their dog abiding by the law and controlling their dog, trying to make it clear that they don’t want any interaction with other dogs such as keeping their dog on lead, having a yellow ribbon or a give me space vest on their dog and you just let your dog run up to them. You are putting your dog at risk. You are letting your dog down.
Regardless of where your dog falls on the dog sociability spectrum it is up to us to set them up for success.
#dogsociability #yellowribbon #yellowribbondog #dogs #respectfordogs #controlyourdog #itsnotok #idontcareifheisfriendly #dogsdeservebetter
What is Clicker or Marker Training?
Marker training is a useful and proven way to train your dog. A marker communicates to your dog they have performed the asked for behaviour and that they will be rewarded. The marker pinpoints the exact moment the correct behaviour. A marker could be a clicker, sound or a word. Examples of words to use as a marker could be Yes, Yip, or Nice but you can use almost any short word or sound that you can say in a higher pitch tone.
The reward is often a treat but as you start to expand your training skills a marker can mean many things such as a toy, game, or defining where to get the treat from such as a scatter. Each reward will have a different marker.
When you use a marker you always get the promised reward even if it is said in error. As your dog starts to learn new behaviours you can start using the here comes a treat marker and swap it for a marker that means yep you did that right but I don’t have anything for you, (other than my eternal gratitude for being awesome) such as Good!
During training sessions I ‘pay’ my dog for everything because I am asking them to work. Outside of training sessions I will only ‘pay’ them if I have a treat or toy happy.
My basic markers are
Yes – Food reward
Nice – Toy
Good – Eternal gratitude
During training sessions I will use Yes most of the time with a couple Nice marks to split up the session and end the session.
How does the marker or Clicker work?
When you start using it the word or click means nothing so first you need to condition your bridge or marker. Essentially this means just giving it value.
To do this you need to decide on the marker and the reward.
If I am conditioning my Yes marker meaning food, I would have some kibble or treats in one hand (approximately 6-12 pieces)
● Say Yes!
● Give your dog a piece of food.
● Repeat until all food has been used.
● Say ‘All Done’ and show your empty hands to end the session
● Repeat a few times a day for 3-5 days and in a variety locations.
The desired response is your dog expects a treat to follow the marker and this will come with a few days of practice.
How do you use the marker?
If I ask my dog to sit and he sits I say Yes! and give him a treat. The food acts as positive reinforcement (if the dog likes the food) and you will see the behaviour more often.
Clicker or Marker training is so effective because it uses positive reinforcement (in the details form) and it pinpoints the exact moment the correct behaviour is performed. If we don’t use a marker we often end up rewarding something we weren’t planning to such as a sit instead of come, or a down instead of a sit.
This may seem a bit sad but I mourn for a dog that I have lost but he is still alive. Don't get me wrong, I love him with all my being! I often say I loved him to live because he came so close to dying at 8 months old.
If you know my Nightmares, you may be aware that both Krueger and Myers have Atopic Dermatitis. Myers has anxiety as well. Krueger lives to make his presence known, generally with the bark of his Huntaway ancestors and the size of his personality.
When I started thinking about another dog I asked loads of questions of the breeder around behavioural and skin problems within the lines. I wanted an ‘easy’ dog and to avoid any genetic issues. I wanted a go anywhere do anything kind of dog. Confident, self-assured, and athletic.
When Craven was born, and it was all confirmed that he was mine, I started to dream about all the things he could be as he grew up. I have grown and developed as a dog owner and trainer, so I had so many plans about what I was going to try, what we were going to do.
Craven arrived as a confident wee boy, super happy, and he fell in love with me super quickly. We did all the right socialisation even during a mini lockdown and a broken arm. He was amazing taking everything in his stride. Life didn’t faze him. I remember seeing a train with him for the first time; we were driving to see a friend when we had to stop at a crossing, as the train grumbled along the track Craven looked over at me and I told him it was ok and gave him a pat then he relaxed and watched it trudge past. That was what we did when he was unsure but that didn't happen all too often. A quick it’s ok and he was fine.
Sadly he became really unwell and I almost lost him. It was suggested that I might choose euthanasia at one point. He was only around 8 months old. I am so thankful for the support I received during this time. I couldn’t have him euthanised as long as he wanted to live I wanted him to live.
As he started to improve he was discharged from hospital and I went to pick him up. My big beautiful confident boy had been replaced by a frail, thin puppy who had no energy and was scared. He was apprehensive about being touched. It saddened me but he had been so unwell I wasn’t surprised.
As he started to heal, eat and get stronger I started to see the overwhelming effect the illness and his time in hospital had had on his behaviour. He was no longer happy go lucky, or confident. He would scream when he got a fright or when his siblings would start barking. I couldn’t brush him, touch his feet, and there were only certain areas where I could touch him. There were days when he first came home that we would just lie together and watch the other dogs play.
Slowly day by day he would start to relax when I patted him. Over a couple of months he started to let me brush him. Now I can brush his entire body. We are both quite proud of ourselves. He trusts that I won’t hurt him but when he is stressed he sometimes forgets. We still have a long road ahead of us but one day I hope he will be more relaxed about being touched, less scared of the world and not worry that I will hurt him. Maybe he feels I let him down and it was my fault he went through all that pain.
So how can mourn a dog I still have. I mourn the confident easy puppy that I started with. The dog sport superstar I was hoping for and believe I had before he got sick. Maybe I just mourn the easiness of Craven when he was a baby puppy. I wanted a smooth ride for once.
But don’t get me wrong I LOVE this dog. He was meant to be mine and I was meant to me his. He is perfect.
My point is that sometimes we mourn the dog we were hoping for. No one plans for the difficult dog. The reactive dog. The anxious dog. The aggressive dog.
We have all these plans but then something happens. Maybe your dog is reactive. Maybe your dog is anxious. Perhaps you wanted an agility superstar or your next sled dog prospect. It is ok if you are sad about not having the dog you planned on. Sometimes you get the dog you are meant have.
The one who will actually make your world better.
You will become a better trainer, a better dog owner when you are challenged.
It is ok to mourn when you feel like you have lost something.
Mourn for the dog you lost.
Grow from it.
Love the dog you have.
Change the plans you had.
Love your dog.
Insurance or no Insurance? That is the question for many new pet owners. My answer to this question is simple. GET IT.
Now I know I am probably worst case scenario but I have three dogs;
Krueger has Atopic Dermatitis which is an on-going lifelong condition.
Myers also has Atopic Dermatitis and Anxiety which has required medication, both lifelong conditions.
Craven, the puppy, has cost me over $14000 and he isn’t even 1 yet. He will likely have on-going issues now as well.
There is absolutely no way I could afford to cover all the yearly vet bills without insurance.
Insurance inherently seems like a waste of money to some people and that putting away money each pay to cover vet bills is a better way of doing things. This does work if your dog never has any major issues. Ignoring Craven, for a minute, as he is an extreme case if I put $50 away each fortnight for Krueger (the cheapest of all 3 dogs) I would have $1300 a year for his vet bills. He is on Antigen Specific Immunotherapy, which cost $500 every 4 or 5 months. He also has Cytopoint about 6 times a year, which costs around $180 a time. Krueger is also particularly allergic to something in the Ohakune area so has medication to prevent flare ups when we go there once a year, which costs around $300-$400. Then there are the creams and antibiotics he needs occasionally. Sure we could avoid Ohakune and save money, and I could choose to use long term steroids to treat the symptoms of his allergies and save loads of money, but I want to give my dogs the best possible care. Long term steroids also can cause complications so need to be used with caution. All up Krueger has over $3000 spent on one condition in a year. Myers needs more and would probably cost me $5000-$6000 a year.
Lastly Craven cost over $14000 in the space of a few month. His insurance covers up to $10000 so it did leave me some extra to pay. If I had had to make a decision on his future based on money, I would have died a little inside.
In 2021 I spent over $22000 on vet bills, this is a conservative estimate based on their on-going conditions. If I put $50 a fortnight away I would have $1300 or $50 per dog would be $3900. I paid around $2600 in insurance premiums which covered $18000 worth of bills. The math is clear.
Over the life span of one dog (12 years for example) at $50 a fortnight I would have saved $15600 (if I didn’t spend anything on vet bills) or paid $14400 in insurance premiums and had up to $120000 worth of cover ($10000 a year cover).
Sure you may be one of the lucky ones that never has any issues with your animals and if you are, I may be a little bit jealous.
There are so many options when it comes to pet insurance these days but important things to look for included:
Range of treatments covered
Speed of payment
Amount of cover
Conditions that aren’t covered
Length of Lifetime coverage
Discounts for multiple animals
Don’t been fooled by getting discounts for routine procedures as this can cause reductions in cover in other areas.
Lifetime coverage for conditions doesn’t always mean it is actually for the life of your animal, some policies may only cover 3 years per condition. Using Krueger as an example – his cover for Atopic Dermatitis would have run out when he turned 6 last year.
Excess can be for each vet visit or for each condition per year. For example you could pay $150 each time you went to the vet regardless of what it was for and then claim everything above that amount back. Alternatively you could pay $150 per year, per conditions, and then everything over a $150 can be claimed, even if you had 10 visits for the same condition. This is great for on-going conditions. Some insurance companies offer a Co-Pay option where you pay 20% of every bill and they pay the rest. Co-Pay and Excess amounts are great ways to help reduce premiums.
Start young – pre-existing conditions are not covered.
Most companies will do a free trial which allows your new pet to be covered sooner with the stand-down periods tending to be shorter.
Shop around so you find a policy that covers what is most important to you.
Insurance won’t cover everything so definitely still save some extra emergency animal money.
Stay within your budget.
Your Puppy’s First Night
The day you get to pick up your new puppy is fast approaching and you have everything you need but how do you survive that first night (or maybe a week).
When you pick up your puppy it is highly likely it hasn’t spent much time at all away from its mum or littermates so it is a very scary time.
As I have discussed in the preparing for your puppy post I like to have something that smells of their previous home, littermates and mum so whether you breeder supplies all the puppies with a blanket or a toy, or I would send one for my puppy.
I would also have an Adaptil collar and/or a diffuser running in my home. The collar can either be put on at the breeder’s house the day before or when you pick him up. The puppy’s mum communicates with her puppies through smell or pheromones. These pheromones are called Dog Appeasing Pheromones. They are odourless messages that can only be perceived by dogs.
Adaptil replicates these very special pheromones which helps provide comfort and security to dogs of any ages. Therefore Adaptil can helps dogs and puppies feel reassured and relaxed. The Adaptil Collars last about 30 days and I would recommend using two consecutively from when you pick your puppy up. This would cover the scary first few days away from his family and as well as the critical period while he is being socialised to his new life.
Additional things I would have ready is his crate set up and ready to go as well as the area in which he will be sleeping. I set up a crate in my room for sleeping and I have it positioned so that he can see me. I don’t want to wait up the puppy is home before getting everything ready. We want our puppy to be as settle as possible and not upset by a lot of activity at the last minute.
In his sleeping area I include a couple of nice soft blankets, and would also put the blanket smelling of his family. I also put an old t-shirt of mine, which I have slept in for a few nights, so he has something that smells like me as well. My puppy also has two toys that are always in his sleeping area, Nighttime Bear which came with him, and Fluffface. Fluffface is a West Paws Rowdie and it wasn’t too much smaller than Craven when he arrived. I like to have a big toy for them to cuddle up too. You can add in a heat pad if the area is a bit cooler, your puppy will be used to sleeping with a pile of other dogs so can be reassured by the warm. A hot water bottle can be put in your puppy’s sleeping as well but just ensure it is well wrapped, tightly closed and only use water from the hot tap, NOT boiling water.
There are pillows created, (Mother’s Heartbeat) which you can use to simulate the heartbeat of the puppy’s mum to help comfort him. The sound of the heartbeat can be reassuring to a young puppy. This definitely isn’t necessary but can be helpful.
Stick to a routine. If your puppy had a set bed routine prior to you picking up try your best to stick to that. Feed him at the same time, put him out for final toilet and then bed at the same time. Routine or consistency breeds comfort. It is good for you puppy to know what to expect and when especially when his whole world has changed. So start as close to the breeder’s routine as possible and then slowly change it so it fits in with your life.
I announce bed time when it happens. Eventually this will become a que to settle down and sleep. I say, Bedtime Pup Pup just as I put him in his crate.
Crying is bound to happen, sometimes from you as well as the puppy. It can be heart-breaking to hear your puppy crying. Maybe I have been lucky but I don’t often get much crying with my puppies but I have used the same set up and technique for them all. Once I put them in their crate I will stay in the room with them, watching TV or something, until I am ready to sleep. If, and when, the puppy cries at first I will let it cry for a very short period of time, maybe only a minute to see if he will settle himself. If he doesn’t settle, I will talk to him in a soft cheerful tone. It doesn’t matter want you say, it just matters how you say it. If he still won’t settle after a couple of minutes I would sit next to the crate and talk to him. Once he settles and falls asleep I quietly move away. If your puppy wakes up and starts crying I would again see if he settles if he doesn’t I would pick him up and take him outside to the toilet without saying anything. Once he has toileted, and been praised, it is back to bed after a quick cuddle and Bedtime Pup Pup. I would repeat this routine as necessary throughout the night as required but I have never had a puppy cry for more than a few minutes using this technique.
In the morning the first thing I do is wake up and put the puppy out.
Things to remember
Don’t feed too close to bed time. A minimum of 2 hours before.
Toilet your puppy right before bedtime.
Don’t withhold water at bedtime.
It is a distressing time for your puppy so don’t let them continuously cry all night.
Slowly does it. Don’t push him.
Don’t expect miracles but be happy if they occur.
A ridiculously adorable and friendly Labrador and she has recently received her custom BUMAS muzzle, which means she is now back to running through mud puddles and rolling in unthinkable smelly things.
She is a super friendly dog and happy to meet people and dogs on her walk, so why does she need a muzzle?
Hannah has Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) but she also loves to eat basically anything she can put in her mouth. This makes walking a bit stressful for her owner.
Her owner decided to get Hannah a fancy BUMAS muzzle with added security straps so they can both still enjoy their forest walks together. Hannah is no longer able to put everything in her mouth so her owner can relax and enjoy the walk too.
Hannah is now also a diabetic along with her IBD so eating things that she isn't allowed is a triple threat to her health.
Muzzles aren't just for aggressive dogs, there are so many other reasons including medical and behavioural. Sometimes people put muzzles on their dogs to keep other dogs and their owners away because they have anxiety disorders and prefer not to have other dogs in their face.
Let's drop the stigma and start embracing muzzling our dogs.
Confident Canines is the NZ Reseller for BUMAS muzzles.
#embracemuzzles #bumas #stopthestigma #muzzleup #leadup
A solid Recall is essential for your dog but yet it is probably hit and miss for many dogs.
Come is most often used without teaching the dog what it means first, so it just becomes a meaningless word. Teach your dog to come on a lead when it's a puppy.
Many people call their dog back, ask them to sit and give them a reward. This rewards them to sit not to come. Don't ask them to sit. Just reward them.
Make coming back to you exciting! The world is full of wonderful things to see and smell, you need to be better than the rest of the world. Be exciting.
Don't always call your dog for boring and of fun things. Ask them to come and then let them run free again. Call them to you to play a game..