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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Novelty and heavy objects.

Closing the store on sat and moving the stuff out, sounded, I dunno, not easy, but not dramatic. I figured I'd be a little tired. I didn't figure I'd be mentally and emotionally drained. To the point I actually drank a costco size redbull to stay functional, despite it likely giving me a crash, heart palpatations, and a headache tomorrow.

I cleaned "the" table off today. Mostly. I often wonder how a minimalist like myself, with no qualms about shit canning useless things can acumulate so much crap so quickly. I mean, I don't buy anything really, dog food, a plant or three, maybe, MAYBE a shirt when I ruin one. I think the bullshit is breeding on the table, like a bad bacteria. Similar in strength to the one that made me actually consider lopping my hand off as a viable option.

Speaking of my hand. I actually go a day or two in a row without inspecting it. I used to check the scar daily, I dunno, part of me was worried it might absess again, the other part reveling in the really bitchin' scar I now wear, almost like a ten year old boy would be proud of a scraped knee. I guess the novelty and the fear of my thumb melting off my hand are wearing off. Until I bump it on som'thing that is. Man that smarts.

The neighbors got another dog. At first I saw they kept it inside, and would play with it outside hours a day....while the other dog was still banished to the yard and ignored. Its been about a week now, and the dog now lives outside full time, and is now recieving about as much attention as the first dog. That dogs novelty seems to have worn off faster than my fascination with my hand.

My guess is they could not housebreak it, after all when we moved in, that was the reason they sited for chucking the first dog outside. At least I can see the problem with the first dog. hes unaltered and when my dogs greet him at the fence, he pees on their faces (well tries too) without fail.

So now I have two 24-7 barking dogs outside in earshot. The new dog has the most shrill bark I've heard in recent memory, beating out Chili's loud, fast bark, and Hobo's high pitched sissy bark.

And thats hard to do. :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

I just don't get the dishonesty.

Iam really losing faith in humans.

I mean more than I already have, ya know ;)

If you don't know the answer, just say so. If you need help or guidance, thats ok.

Have people been so shot down for ignorance that they hide any possibility of it, at all costs? I admit Iam guilty of this. When people ask what I view as an overwhelmingly stupid question, or the wrong day, I tend to be short or smartassed with them. Iam working on this, but som' of these questions make you wonder if people were exposed to anything as a kid. Not knowing the difference between a lizard and a turtle, at 40. Is scary.

Maybe its the aspergers talking. One of the traits is we can be very honest people, which is part of the reason we are seen as rude. We are so honest with ourselves that we can't understand the deception of others. We may say things inappropriate, because they are too true. I've had to learn to say nothing instead, because I can't bring myself to lie or small talk my way out of things.

When I was a kid, and a young adult, this got me into a lot of trouble. I trusted people, over and over, blindly, and now I know why, its a character trait in me.

Every time Iam lied to or deceived. Well. I just don't get it. I understand there must be an underlying motivation for it. Its just so unnatural to me that It leaves me confused. I am honest with people I know. I'd just like a bit of that in return. Maybe I should make friends with a bunch of other aspies and we can sit in a room talking AT each other.

Now that would be comedy. But at least it would be genuine.

Btw I love how spellcheck doesn't recognize aspergers. Sign of the times I guess.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

so I did what made sense...I put in a forest.

I recently found an awesome chanel on youtube.

he talked about how he didn't like seeing his neighbors (a post office) so he did what made sense....he planted stuff.

GOBS of stuff. Like an eden. It was jaw dropping.

I hope to do more of what makes sense to me also :)

what about everyone else?

I see it now.

If you want to train with punishment, professionally, you need a Mal, or a German Shepard...or even a lab. I've even seen a pit bull or two.

You want to train using Positive reinforcement, you go and get a border collie, or an Australian Shepard.

If you train with all methods, you get the dog that leans toward whatever side you lean more too.

At least this is my observation. Iam sure I am not the only one noticing this.

the public pays attention. Their dog isn't smart like a BC so it will never learn advanced things...or even basic things...after all the media shoves BC intelligence down our throats.

If you want a dog to "protect" you, get a Shepard...strap an ecollar on it and just start stim'ing the dog.

What I notice is. People tend to emulated the punishment based trainers blindly...without a clue what they are doing. Iam not demonizing ecollars. They have uses. But the idea of getting rid of behaviors that annoy you with the touch of a button, I think has tremendous pull with the public.

I also notice, that people tend to NOT emulate the positive trainers. They feel silly doing it. The figure their dog is dumb since its not a border collie. They figure they didn't start as a puppy so its too late.

I wonder why this is?

Firstly, the ecollar trainers putting collars on 9 week old those sit means sit money grubbers, are always going to be around. We are human. There are people that find having a mindless robot for a pet very reinforcing. I know, I used to be one of them. I see the appeal. It makes me sad that while I snapped out of it. Many people do not, and will not. Ever.

Iam not against ecollars, when used in certain ways. BUT it scares me how the public emulates som'thing they can't possibly understand. It bothers me that these collars are readily available at wall mart next to the collars and cookies. It bothers me that very few punishment based trainers put a disclaimer that says "DONT TRY THIS WITHOUT A PRO" on their videos.

Many positive trainers are great role models. They are encouraging, as they should be. But part of me thinks, that no matter what, people will have the "i can't do those things" because their dog isn't special or smart enough. I think the "I am a professional trainer now I'll go buy a border collie" is very very very cliche. Not wrong, just predictable.

I wish more positive trainers would use odd breeds, or mutts, or rescues to use as demo dogs. For me its much more impressive, and for the public, its much more encouraging...because after all their dog is now more like the trainers dog..."ordinary".

I know my dogs can do those fancy things, but it took three years of living and breathing this stuff to really believe it when I say it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Changing methods without changing methods

Silva Trkman has a quote I like

"If I didn’t get him, you would never hear for my name. Everything I know, I owe it to him. Thank you Aiken. Thank you for being such a trouble dog. When people ask what makes me so good, I always tell that if you want to be good, you need a bad dog. So bad, that nobody could help you. That’s when you have to think. And that’s when you learn. Thank you Aiken for making me think."

This is how I feel about Chili. Hes such a bad dog genetically. This is the dog I know, KNOW deep in my heart would have been either beaten or euthanized by now. Hes hair trigger, hes high energy, hes desructive, he eats things, hes reactive to dogs, people and anything that moves, makes noise, or is novel. Hes a piece o' work.

at least he was.

Now, hes becoming less of a mess, and more brilliant. His reactivity is almost nonexistant in many contexts now. He knows more behaviors on cue than the other four dogs combined. He plays appropriately with strange dogs. He communcates fairly, and when the other dog is rude, he is restrained in his responses. He communciates well with us, he figures things out, he follow instructions well.

Hes not perfect, but no dog is. But he has made impressive progress in the year and a half hes existed.

Dogs like Chili, I have seen people say...that positive methods can't help them. Or that positive methods actually MAKE IT WORSE. Or som' will even say, positive methods work on som' dogs, just not others with his problems.

I have a more than decent understanding of behavior and learning theory. Som'thing that the average owner lacks. I was able to put methods into action with the complete understanding of why and how they work, and with realisitic expectations.

And yet, I still had failures. Is it the method? Is it me? Is he one of those mythical dogs that R+ can't help?

While I was able to countercondition him to the point he could be on leash in public. Around emense distraction, we still struggled with barrier aggression in the yard and at the park.

So when he'd take off like a bullet, and aggress...I'd call him back to me and reward. After all, I needed a solid recall if he was going to behave this way. What if he was off leash and did this (never has, but just in case) I knew I was possibly rewarding the reaction, but I figured I'd clean it up later, Oi vey.

So then, many months in, and hundreds of bold and reactions in, I realized I had created a behavior chain, while many dogs may not figure out that the reaction causes the recall that causes the cookie...Chili, true to him, figured it out. I don't know how fast, but Iam sure way faster than I did. He bolted in the backyard, and I didn't really feel Like it that day, so I didn't call him back....he stood at the fence and barked/looked at me....barked/looked at me... and then he became frustrated like he does when hes anticipating a click, and doesn't get one. I said "shit!" to myself.

so then I began to think. Like silva...think damn it think.

So I decided I'd start to call him BEFORE he'd get to the fence and only reward those, that way I was stopping the reaction at a lower level.

For som' reason this seemed to make the behavior worse...long past any chance of it being an extinction burst. In fact he began to blow off the recalls if the item was som'thing particularly good (like bikes, ooooh he hates bikes)

I then thought, about tethering him to me, and rewarding non reactions.

I decided this was very impractical, tho probably my best bet. At this point in my mind I dabbled with the thought of using P+ on this, and just getting rid of the behavior that way. But In the end I decided not to, that that was a cop out, and that positive reinforcement CAN work, I just hadn't thought hard enough yet.

I tried premack for a while, releasing him to chase the trigger as a reward. It seemed to amp him up more, to the point he couldn't focus on my AT ALL. I nixed the idea.

We then introduced som' removal. My first attempt to punish the behavior. When he'd react, we scoop him up and put him inside for a few minutes. This worked VERY well...until he learned in less than five reps of this, that he needed to flee from us while he was reacting, and hes fast. Very fast. A combo of teethering and removal would probably have worked well...but once again, not practical

Then one day, it happened.

He went to the fence, and did not react yet (trigger was far away) and instead of calling him to me, I simply marked him with a yes.

This was a test. I mean, he was over thirty feet away, would he understand he needed to return to me for his reinforcer? In hindsight I know the answer is yes, but I had never marked a dog at a distance.

When I marked him, he came running to me. And after I fed him, another strange thing happened. He waited. He did not immediately try and reingage the trigger.

I released him with an "ok" and then pointed and told him "go see" (his cue to walk away from me) to my amazement he went back to the fence, looked at the trigger in silence, looked at me, and then sat.

I marked and released again. We did a few more reps, and then he decided he was bored with the trigger and wandered off.

We practiced the next day, and the day after...we took the behavior to the dog park, by the entrance gates, and had ZERO outbursts. I was flabbergasted.

so far, so good.

so I guess my point is, I failed, not the methods, and there are many methods within the positive umbrella. I have learned alot from this dog, and I hope he continues to challenge me.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Old dog is old

I was thinking today about Emma, and how good she is.

But yet, I never really talk about her.

Shes reliable. This is the dog I'd take into public and not worry about. This is the dog a mob of kids could pet and she'd be cool with that. The dog I can recall off rabbits when shes in a full run. The good dog. The predicatible, stable dog.

She stalks me from room to room, always wanting to be in my presense, but never, ever is pushy for attention, in fact she never asks for attention at all. Even politely. Unlike Chili who shoves a toy in your lap, or paws at you when hes bored. Or Kiwi who will try and climb in your lap. Em will just wait patiently for you to notice her.

Medically, shes been a dream. I think we have two dentals and a torn dew claw under our belts and thats it. Shes fit, shes sound, shes fast, which is not amazing until you account thats shes also old. Critter who is the other "old dog" has cost us many thousands of dollars in vet care and much stress and grief over her behavior. Em is the old person I hope to be.

Though, this posses a dilema in my mind. If Critter were to die, say tomorrow. I could come to terms with that pretty easy I think. Shes had all the apropriate signals of "hey guys, I can't get around well anymore, oh and I have cancer, and my teeth are fallling out!"

Emma has no such signals. So Until people ask me her age, I kinda don't think about it. But the truth is she is old...she may be as old as Critter, or even older...just no way to know.

When Scooter died, he also gave no "hey guys Iam old" statements. He was here and then he was gone. When the vet told me he was an old man, after I just ran him all week like the five year old dog I thought he was. I began to think I killed my little ol' man. Perhaps I did accidentally.

Anyway, I guess my point is, when Em goes, I fear it will be sudden like Scooter. I also get the sinking feeling that Em will go before Critter, because Critter seems to have a good grip on this life...surviving everything it throws at her.

Em is a good dog. I don't give her enough credit. I hope she knows that.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Winning the doggy lottery

Nothing like a trip to the vet and a trip to the dog park in one day to put things in perspective.

Tippy had a foxtail removed from her snoz today. Waaaay up high in there. Thing was huge, I love how the vet gleefully brought it to me on hemostats while I sat in the waiting room. He also gleefully came to show me how Tippy not only has no eardrum in her left ear, but no ear canal either. Now that two vets in a row confirm she can't hear squat in that ear, I can stop wondering if shes ignoring recalls, since I know her non response has a innocent reason now.

She was xrayed and yet again another stumped vet. Her odd walk still remains a speculation. We did rule a few things out, which is good, and we did learn that her legs are mildly malformed. At this point in my mind, Iam leaning towards a congenital defect.

Chili, Emma and I blew off chores and went to the dog park where the circus music was moderately loud today. There was the guy who anounced over and over that he was going to breed his two JRT, and that the three month old breeder to be was "eager to go!" since he was already mounting her...he then went on to talk about how he only buys the cheapest dog food for them at 47cents a can. I wasn't in the mood so I finally just walked away.

Then there was the terrified dog being bullied by a boxer. The dog would give every available signal to the boxer that it was uninterested, and frightened. The boxer, unfortuately, true to my many experiences with them, continued to treat the frightened dog like a toy. It ran screaming to its owner several times, trying to hide behind him. The owners response....say the dogs name in an irritated tone, then yell 'stop it" all while smacking his dog on the face.

This went on for over twenty minutes. Occasionally the guy would shout to his wife "maybe we should go"... but never bothered to actually "go". I wanted to shake him.

Meanwhile, Em, the spicy one, and I are in the small dog park alone. We watch this drama unfold and I lean over and tell Chili how lucky he is I snapped him up, and not som'one else. He thanked me by bringing me a disected foam ball and digging up som' grass.

We got lots of practice for our reactivity. And he did stellar. Not one outburst. I found that throwing treats at him, rather than have him run back to me, worked pretty well. I have also started simply marking him going up to the dog, and having him run back for the reward. This is different than the old method, of calling him to me, and then marking and rewarding, and I like the new methods results better.

Either way, there will not be a shouting of names and smacking of heads. Lucky dogs .

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Frankendog's Cah nee

Chili loves him som' jumps. I mean, he was okey dokey with them at in, "well, I'll get a treat, so sure"...but as time has gone on, hes gotten really into it. Like I imagine the talented agility dogs do, where the behavior itself is a reward, and a behavior that is self rewarding, its a holy grail if its som'thing you want and can control.

We had been working on me sending him to the jumps...basically I'd stand back and give him a signal to run AWAY from me, and over the hand target or lure...just him understanding English like usual.

He got it. So well that I started asking him to stop mid run back to me (completely new) and he got that never ceases to amaze me how important foundation behaviors are. Sure I could have taught him all these things, independently...but what we have is more like me giving him instructions for a new task, and he does it. Instead of having to shape and lure everything like I do the other dogs.

So, just as the twinkle of a great agility dog gets in my eye. Chili begins to "skip" on and off for a few days. I knew right away what it was, and I knew getting a chi mix that it could and would likely happen. I was in in denial for about a full day and then I came to my senses....So off to the vet we go.

Luxating Patella, on the left side. Grade two. Not surgery worthy yet, but will be one day. To quote the vet "his conformation is crap". So much for that show dog career also :p

He is also "raked"?? Which Iam told means his back end is up too high and it puts all his weight on his bowlegged front legs. He could pass for a drag car.

So the jumps have been unused for a few weeks now while I mentally try and cope with this. He can still use them, just not often, and forget being an agility dog on any level besides playing in the backyard. I worry how Iam going to keep a dog that goes 100mph all day everyday from over exercising... I worry about him having surgery....I worry about him being in pain one day.

We joke about his little Cahneez (knees). Som'times I think I laugh so I don't cry.

facebook. Ahem.

I remember myspace. I was into it. Really into it.

Heck, I met my husband there. It mattered to me.

That said, I got over it. It was awesome, then it was boring, And on top of being boring, it was really easy for all my past stalkers to crawl out from under rocks and find me, not to mention the ex con I pissed on once with a bulletin I posted that he decided offended him.

So now there's facebook, and myspace has sort of been peer pressured into a facebook like mold. Its kinda sick really. I liked the old layout, and now myspace is smoking cigarettes and wearing the coolest clothes with its new crowd o' friends.

My friend made me a facebook page. For a long time I ignored it, since I found it impossible to use, then I finally figured stuff out and posted here and there, a photo or two, a comment or two.

And then, true to me, I noticed the flaws.

Almost every single post was in two catagories....

Shit I don't care about

people bitching and complaining about their day.

So, I guess my point is, I dont' get the fascination, unless you are trying to hook up with som'one. Or you are addicted to farmville. But that's a whole 'nother can o' worms.