Friday, February 27, 2009

This is boring!

Once again I am forced to deal with several days of boredom! Jenn is organizing another Tellington TTouch training and I have to spend six days alone with Eric while she spends her days at the training. I am bored out of my gourd. I didn't even get my walks because it has rained for days. Hmmph!! So I've been spending lots of time standing by the sliding door that leads out into the yard and looking longingly out. Then I try standing by the gate hinting that it is time to take me on a walk. This didn't work either.

Let's hope Eric has something up his sleeve to entertain me tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Review of the Dog Tornado

Here's my review of the Dog Tornado, another of the mind activating toys toys from Nina Ottosson. This is a wooden toy, made for playing with your person. I shouldn't be left alone with this toy as my person needs to monitor my progress and reset the Tornado as needed. And it is made of wood, which I could probably dismantle in no time flat.

First, Jenn loads the Tornado with treats in the tiny chambers. Then I have to spin the Tornado around with my nose or my paws to reveal each chamber. This is a fun way to work my brain and get some treats. Check out my video and see how I did. There are now plastic versions of some of the Nina Ottosson toys coming to a dog store near you.

Read more about Nina Ottosson and her mind activating toys here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Importance of Hand Signals

Jenn can't speak! She opens her mouth and nothing comes out. Very weird. You'd think that would mean anarchy around here. I guess it's a good thing that she taught us dogs hand signals for all our commands. Hmph! And I was all ready for things to get wild and crazy.
You see, we dogs are visual learners and we really don't understand English (even though a lot of humans think we do). We can learn associations between certain behaviors and certain sounds or phrases, but we learn faster if what you teach us is associated with a visual signal. Deaf dogs can learn all commands this way very successfully.

One of Jenn's favorite books, "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell describes how a study taught beagle puppies how to sit using visual vs. verbal signals. Within a short amount of time, almost all the puppies responded to the visual signal but hardly any to the verbal signal.

It is also helpful for all dogs to know hand signals, then we can easily respond to everyone in the family, not just the person with a particular sounding voice. That way, if you ever lose your voice or there is a lot of noise going on around you, you can still communicate with your dog.

So when you teach your puppy something new, think about teaching a hand signal with the verbal signal.

You can learn more about teaching hand signals at the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund website.

Any check out Dr. Patricia McConnell's book "The Other End of the Leash".

Monday, February 2, 2009

Titer Test Results and a Beagle Playdate

I got some very good news! My titer test came back and the results show that my immune system is very strong against the nasty parvo and distemper viruses. That means that I won't need a parvo or distemper booster shot for a long, long time if ever. By not having to get unnecessary shots, I'm also avoiding all the possible side effects of getting shots I don't need. I still have to visit my vet for my annual wellness exam and get tested for other things like heartworms, but the only shot I definitely have to get now is rabies every three years (so says the state of North Carolina). There are lots of researchers saying that we also get longer immunity from the rabies shot.

Want to learn more? Dr. Ronald Schultz has been studying pet vaccines for over 30 years and he is the leading researcher on vaccine duration. He is working on the Rabies Challenge Fund to help prove that rabies vaccinations can be effective up to 7 years. Here are some articles about his approach to minimal use of vaccinations and about the Rabies Challenge Fund.

Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and Don't Know
What Everyone Needs to Know About Canine Vaccines and Vaccination Programs
Schultz: Dog Vaccines May Not be Necessary
Rabies Challenge Fund

So after all this talk about vaccines, I had to have some fun playing with a new beagle friend at the park. First we had a nice game of chase. I had a hard time keeping up!Then we wrestled. He flopped on the ground and we made all kinds of wacky faces at each other.Then he jumped on my back and I was completely having the best time! This little guy was so much fun to play with. Jenn said we had very appropriate play skills and even though I am much bigger and stronger, I didn't even try to overwhelm him. That's called self -handicapping, or downplaying my skills to match my play partner. Cool.