Tweets of the Week (28th October)

This is Some Thoughts About Dogs’ weekly segment where we share all the links shared on my Twitter for the past week. Sit down with a cuppa and enjoy.


Tweet of the Week

Could dogs and puppies be languishing in shelters because of rescue scrutiny?  Though we all know that rescues need to screen buyers and have the absolute right, and obligation, to find the most suitable home for their animals, a long running concern of mine is that rescue groups could be too fussy.  The relatively new blog, Team Unruly, shared an article titled Not Good Enough, looking at this very issue. This blog is written by a number of talented doggy people, but Michelle is the author of this post. She talks about the rigid requirements that rescue hold, that may prevent pets from finding homes.

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Tempting Fussy Eaters

First, I must say, I do not believe in catering to fussy eaters. To me, fussy eaters are made, not born, and it’s simply a bad habit that many people encourage.  For dogs that are just naughty in not eating, then I strongly recommend Sue Ailsby’s guide to teaching a dog to eat.

However, sometimes, there are medical reasons that may mean that a dog is disinclined to eat.  For Clover, her pregnancy has made her nauseous and cease to eat.  Sometimes, in times of extreme stress (such as in boarding kennels), dogs choose not to eat.  In these cases, it’s often cyclic – I know that when I don’t eat, I feel sick, and so I don’t want to eat.  I am sure the same principle applies to dogs.  There is also a rumour that dogs reduce stress by eating, so another positive in encouraging a dog to eat.

For times of medical need, or stress, I’ve compiled a list of tactics to encourage a dog to eat. These should only be used when medical illness has been ruled out and only on a short term basis.

Competition and hand feeding – two possible options for a fussy eater.

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Dog training doesn’t happen in a laboratory!

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

Along with Dunbar’s criticisms of the four quadrants of operant conditioning, he also criticised learning theory for being “mostly irrelevant” to pet dog training.  ‘These days’, learning theory is common knowledge for most dog trainers, but Dunbar considers it to be mostly irrelevant in the ‘real world’ of dog training.


Outside of the laboratory is a whole wide world of training environments and possible rewards. So why are we so caught up on learning theory?

Much of learning theory has been established by computer-use of reinforcements and punishments.  To Dunbar, this means the findings of learning theory, as delivered a lab, is only relevant to lab settings.  In a laboratory, the subjects are normally rats or pigeons, computers control the training, and the animals are contained.  In the real world of dog training, humans are not computers (they are inconsistent), dogs are more complex than rats and pigeons, dogs escape from people (aren’t contained), and dogs bite!

But humans have an advantage: Humans have voice and can moderate their tone to reward and punish.  Computers cannot use verbal rewards or punishments, and so research on verbal feedback is almost entirely neglected.  Dunbar encourages verbal feedback to train recalls, and claims it is easy to do.  He believes that verbals are more expressive than clicks, jerks and shocks.  Verbals can describe how desirable behaviour was and also an appropriate alternative behaviour.

Punishment may be effective in a laboratory, but (to quote his handout) “people are inconsistent and so the dog quickly learns those times when he will not be punished, i.e., when the owner is physically-absent (dog at home alone), physically-present but functionally absent (dog off leash), or physically-present but mentally absent (owner day-dreaming or making a phone call).”  On top of this, owners normally have bad timing, and dogs learn to be separated from their owners to avoid punishments.  (See also: Dunbar’s thoughts on punishment.)  Dunbar described people as “screwed before we start” if we seek to replicate laboratory settings in real-world dog training. Continue reading


The Week in Tweets (September+)

This is the failing weekly segment where I list the posts I have shared on my Twitter. I’ve been a bit slack, so this segment isn’t anywhere near weekly at the moment. It just means you have to spend a bit more time reading all these fantastic links at once. Hope you enjoy!


Tweet of the Week

The Oatmeal writes comical content, but not normally about dogs… Until recently, when they posted “My dog: The Paradox“. I cry every time I read it!  It is very funny, because it’s very true, but it’s also a lovely account of dog ownership, and a lament of the short lifespan of the dog. It’s absolutely worth the read.  It is light hearted and easy to take. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. (Please accept this language warning, however!)

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A Puppy Announcement

It is with great pleasure that I announce that my darling Clover, otherwise known as “Ch Burrowa Blue Flame TD ME”, has been confirmed pregnant. The sire of the litter is Caber, otherwise known as “Ch Glenbogle Kiss Chasey ET”.

On the left, Caber, and the right, Clover.

Clover had an ultrasound on the 8th of October, which was day 28 of her pregnancy.  Though dog ultrasounds are not hugely accurate in determining numbers, excitedly, we had SIX puppies show on the ultrasound.  This is a huge litter for Clover, doubling her 2010 litter of 3 puppies (her first litter), and a singleton litter in 2011 (Myrtle).  It is more than we hoped for!

This post is a commitment to keeping you updated on the process of pregnancy, and puppy raising.  My puppies are raised using Dunbar’s protocols: I don’t want to produce ‘lemon puppies‘. Unfortunately, pregnancy is kind of boring. At the moment, our efforts are spent on keeping Clover active, taking her for walks as often as we can, and currently catering to her new found food fussiness.

However, I’d like to describe how we got to this point. Why I’ve made the decision to have a litter from Clover, why I chose the sire we have, and the puppy buyer process. Continue reading