The Week in Tweets (August +)

I’m a bad blogger. This segment, where I share my tweets, is supposed to occur weekly. Sadly, I’ve been slack, so instead you’re getting a month’s worth of tweets at once! Put your feet up for an hour and read something about dogs.


Tweet of the Week

So you think you know why animals play?  Beautifully written, challenging, engaging, fascinating, thought provoking. As it name suggests, the article seeks to answer the question of why animals play. In reality, it answers why animals don’t play… If you can’t afford the time to read anything else on this list, read this first, and enjoy it!

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Wanted: A place for Bella to call her own.

Through the marvels of Facebook, Bella came to reside with me until she finds her new home.  She was surrendered to Tailem Bend pound as a fence jumper, and I agreed to take her on. Considering that when Lucky (a past foster) came into care, she was also surrendered as an escape artist, and yet never tried to escape once, I knew that people lie when surrendering pets to rescue.

However, I soon found that Bella’s past owner wasn’t lying.

Yes, Bella jumps fences. Bella also can escape from a wire crate and can open doors. She has her own plans and doesn’t like to be confined. That being said, being confined when you’re around is quite okay by her – she’ll stay in the yard, stay in a crate, and stay locked in a room while you’re nearby. Once she realises you’re gone, however, she seeks her own adventures. She is looking for a home with secure fences, someone home most of the time, and is best to be locked inside when left alone to reduce her opportunities to fence jump in her new home. Her adoption is subject to a yard check and commitment to keeping Bella contained. Continue reading


Separation Anxiety According to Dunbar

This post is part of the series in response to Dunbar’s 2012 Australian seminars. See index.

Photo © Ruthless Photos.

To me, Dunbar’s approach to separation anxiety was a little simplistic, but I think this is because Dunbar believes most separation anxiety is actually “separation fun”.  When dogs are left alone, they often find things that they enjoy doing.  Or, if they are used to owners coming home and punishing them, dogs may also have anxiety regarding the reuniting with the owner, and not so much the separation itself.

Regardless, Dunbar believes separation anxiety can be fixed.  His tool is, unsurprisingly, a Kong.  He suggests getting a dog into a Kong routine, where Kongs are associated with good things (not the owner leaving!).  The basic principle is to start a dog in a crate next to you with a Kong, and gradually move the crate further away from you, further away from the room you’re in, and slowly increase distance – all the while the dog having a Kong to enjoy.

For normal dogs, it’s okay to give a Kong as you leave the house.  Upon return, Dunbar suggests you encourage play with the Kong.  The idea that your dog, upon anticipation of your return, may pick up the Kong instead of choosing more destructive avenues for their enthusiasm! (This is one of the best bits of advice I got from Dunbar over the weekend.)

ThatMutt posted on owner-causes of Separation Anxiety and, if Dunbar’s approach seems workable to you, then you may enjoy the strategies put forward in their post.


The Week in Tweets (end of July)

Each week (when I haven’t been a horrible blogger) I summarise my tweets in a blog post. Unfortunately, I’ve been a horrible blogger so, instead, here are my tweets from the latter half of July. (By the way, follow me on Twitter!)


Tweet of the Week

Unfortunately, this article isn’t really long or detailed, but perhaps that’s part of its appeal!  Science Daily published an article called: “Dog-associated house dust protects against respiratory infection linked to asthma“. It provides clues why kids that live in homes with pets seem to have less risk of developing asthma. Cool, eh?

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Food in Dog Training (Dunbar)

This post is part of the series in response to Dunbar’s 2012 Australian seminars. See index.

Food is very useful in dog training.

My notes are a little brief in this section, but I think (!) that Dunbar described four principle roles of food in dog training:


Brindle crossbreed dogs eyes off rawhide treat.

Photograph copyright Ravyk Photography.

1. Lure
Food can be used to lure desirable behaviours.  This is very effective for pet owners, who often do need food to make up for deficiencies in other areas (e.g. poor training, poor vocal control, etc).  Read more about lure-reward training.

2. Reward
Food can be used to reward desirable behaviours.

3. Classical conditioning
Classical conditioning is associating something good with something else.  For example, feeding dogs every time they see another dog means that the dog is more likely to associate other dogs with good things.

4. Distraction
Otherwise known as ‘proofing’ in training, food can be used as a distraction in training exercises.


What if the dog doesn’t like food?

If a dog doesn’t like food, they should be trained to like food!  Feed the dog by hand instead of from a bowl, or turn food into a secondary reinforce – “you have to eat the kibble for you do be allowed to do fun things”. Food is too useful to not have in your toolbox for behaviour modification.