Me having to grow up in a highly efficient and productivity governed country and brought up by the traditional family methods. I wonder when was the last time you get a genuine compliment or appreciation from your kin or bosses? Even a simple good work or nice job done or thank you seems to be far-fetch nowadays especially within the chinese cultural perspective.
When I first got lele, it never came across my mind that I should praise her when she did things right. Mostly was ignore or reprimand when she did something bad. Subconsciously, I guess I took it for granted when she’s behaving well. As time goes and I read up and understand more to dogs behavior and communication as well as attending the obedience training, I came to realize why I never praise lele before. It was actually part of my character, how I was brought up and during old schools time where “caning is part of teaching a kid and praise will make the child proud”.
Everyone has different life experience. With lele, she has taught me to express and compliment other people especially during my working life. Everyone loves to be appreciated for the efforts they made for their job. It is also part of the job satisfaction and motivation staying loyal to the company. Anyway back to lele, a simple praise and scratch on her neck do makes a difference. Every dog or puppy is like a toddler that need to be constant guided and assured. If one will only punish for their bad behaviors and not praise or positive reinforcements when they are doing correctly, who is then to blame for the aftermath of the dog well-being.
A praise or encouragement may be a “simple good girl”, “good dog”, “well done” or even “thank you” but it must also express with genuine feelings. Imagine boss telling you “Great job” in a monotonous tone, probably I will be thinking What The ….. Too much of praises will also be meaningless. There must be a sincerity when you say it. Some dogs are praise-motivated, lele isn’t but I will praise her excitedly when she did things well and behave good. I wrote this post because I’ve seen pet owners taking their dogs for granted. It’s not all about punishment but nurturing and molding the dog behavior and character day by day, one step at a time.
So when was the last time you say good doggie to your furkid? It’s never to late to give a pat.
“Mummi, am I a good girl?”
I’ve mentioned on lele’s negative behavior on part 1 of the post. Let me sing her praises as she has fine-tuned to a very interesting doggie recently. Since after her heat and the smooth recovery of her tail injury, lele’s appetite has grown so such that she just can’t get enough of her treats (even for kibbles). Our whole family has also realised her change as she behaved like a famished dog constantly seeking food opportunities with any member of the family. Not as if we’ve ill-treated her but she got her standard 2 meals a day consist of raw dehydrated lamb in the morning and home cooked food (Fish and Sweet Potatoes) in the evening. We probably thinks she is at the “puberty” growth stage right now. But acting like a straving dog, I realise my training with her has been smooth sailing. Her currency or motivator at the moment is food. I’m trying and learning to phrase out the treats and introduce toys as time goes.
Lele is undergoing competitive agility training right now. Being a beagle with hunting instincts in her blood and her nose as the boss, she can be really stubborn and inattentive. Although lele has completed her obedience training, I felt there is something amiss that I cannot catch hold of her.
Frankly speaking, after going through tons of training videos on Youtube, I finally came across Dr Ian Dunbar training videos. He was an enlightenment in redirecting my standpoint in dog training thru a 360 degree view. Rather than wanting our dog to do what we want them to do in our perspective, why not try looking into their dog eye view.
Lesson 1. Getting her attention - Lele has always been pulling her leash during walks, getting very excited when she sees her buddies, sniffing when not suppose to, no responses in recalling…… But after watching a video on Active Attention – SIRIUS Adult Dog Training, I was speechless. It’s a simple technique to get eye contact and attentiveness from the dog. I remember my first few training with lele, it was quite disheartening. Probably due to my previous techniques constantly “luring” lele to watch me, she did not get to understand the game at all. The first time, I have to stand there like 5 mins with my back facing her and she just simply lie down on the floor looking at my back (feedback from my MIL who is watching). It was even hilarious when she pull the leash and try to went off sniffing with me standing firm on the ground. Subsequently after the 8 mins. She walked to my side and took a peek at me. That’s when I wildly praise her and the training has start to progress. In additional, I learned from the videos by a fellow beagle owner in putting treats in my mouth. I know it may sound yucky but it works by making lele looking up at me. Now I’ve stop doing that but every time I treat her from my hand, I will move the treats to my lips and give it to her. This makes her assume that the treats come out from my mouth and she will stare at me constantly.
Lesson 2. Convert distractions into her rewards - Lele is on a martingale collar. Hence every time we go for walks, she will pull and choke herself even when I’m standing still. As I learned to get her attention, the moment we step out of the house, everything is to be in a calm manner and look at mummi. With the treats packed for the walk, she is rewarded for walking nicely beside mummi and also looking up. But there’s no way we can constantly do that during walks, where’s all the fun then. Since her favourite activity is sniffing and exploring, she gets what she wants BUT only when mummi gives “go sniff” command. Initially when we reach the void deck of our flat, she will start her frenzy sniffing. Since I expected thats what she’s going to do, I made her sit first. Once she looks at me (took around 2mins the first time), I gave her wild praises and then the go sniff command to let her have her fun. Our first “new” walk took me 45 mins with almost 30 mins on sniffing and 15mins of walking nicely and stopping to wait for her eye contact. Now she has made vast improvements on her walk and really make me very proud of her. I used to stop the moment she pulls her leash and ”lure” her to watch but now she knows the game and every walk seems so much easier and relax. Just let Dr Ian Dunbar mentioned, let the dog thinks they are training the owner. Just like lele now, look at you means you give me treats. LOL.. it works very well with my MIL. Her heart just gives in when lele shows the “Puss in Boots (Shrek)” eyes.
Lesson 3. Training is all about fun - I used to have a stance when I train lele, whichever is on tricks or basic obedience. I have a tendency to rush for results and hoping for quick end products for the tricks. I realised lele hardly wags her tail when doing training with me. Does it means she’s not enjoying herself with me? I guess so. As I browse through the net and some facebook references from friends, 3 other trainers came across whom are Zak george, Silvia Trkman and Barby (Xsara and Tani). I read through their website and watch their amazing videos and all concludes similar teaching. Training is to let owners and our dogs have fun as well as develop their learning skills and awareness of their body. Training and learning is also to resolve bad behaviors from our dogs. Lele do not knows what the end results I want. But she knows that she is learning always. As I start to change my viewpoint and make training short and fun for lele, I can see her changes and bonding with me. Her recalls have also improve slightly and now I also get to see her wagging tail which always bring a smile to my face.
Training may be a tedious journey and a continuous effort. But the fun and fulfilling feeling when lele is able to perform and listens when ask to is just overwhelming. I enjoy training a lot and I love to see lele’s looks trying to figure what I ask her to do. The moment she gets it, she will get her food rewards and an after class playtime with mummi.
There is no bad or aggressive or un-trainable dogs, only lazy owners.
One of lele’s training videos – Lele Beagle Heeling (*Sorry for the shaky video*)
Lele had been a different dog since the heat. Me and CS are quite puzzled by her sudden change of character and behavior. The change have both positive and negative effects. Wondering if this is because lele is entering to adulthood soon, therefore she is starting to get wary about the surrounding. I guess my lele is growing up and big girl now. Mummi is getting to know lele once again.
1) Increasing in barking frequency- Le le gets quite paranoid with surrounding nowadays whenever we are out for walks or even at home. She used to whine and wag her tail when she see strangers. But now she tends to bark at strangers (those she don’t like) and had her tail between legs. One such incident is when walking down the stairs. If steps are heard from someone walking down, she will bark and lunge forward once sighted. I usually get to hear her bark like only once a fortnight. Now I can hear it like few times a week.
Mummi’s reinforcement: I prepared a bunch of treats every time we go out for walks. If she barks, I will immediately tighten the leash and try to get in front of her view. At the same time trying to get her to sit or down with the treats in my hand. I will immediately praise her and treat her if she looks at me or keep quiet. If she trys to lunge forward to the person, I usually uses my voice “ackkk…. + No”. The moment she stop I give her a treat and praise her. As the other person is walking pass us, I will try to constantly get her attention and treat treat treat + praise praise praise. And stop until the person is distance away from us. Then I will ask her to heel about 2-3 steps and then “free” her to go sniff (favourite activity when outside).
2) Growling – Aggression over food and toys - Lele for the first time growl at me during her dinner time when I tried to put my hand in her food bowl. (That day lele was served a special delicious dinner.) I got startled and suddenly felt so vulnerable. (No matter how, lele still have fangs that can puncture my hand.) It actually break the trust between me and lele. I felt angry and frightened at the same time when I tried to go near her food the 2nd time. And she growled at me again. I know I cannot let this behavior go on without correcting her.
Mummi’s reinforcement: I have no idea what to do as this is the first time experiencing such behavior head-on. I scolded her very loudly “No” and tell her I feed her not taking her food. Next , I stroked her head and talk to her nicely. Afterwhich, I just push my hand into the bowl (closing my eyes and praying she won’t bite). Immediately I grab a piece of her food and feed it to her muzzle. And I go on and on until dinner is finished. It was a heart-stopping moment. The reason I do it is more of an impulsive action. Well, this is not the first time I’ve been reaching into lele’s bowl, I almost do it everyday once on either meal time which no aftermath. Somehow to think back as in putting my hand in with gut feeling is stupidity.
So I went to check for the appropriate reinforcement online and came across a video, Doggy’s Dinnertime – SIRIUS Puppy Training Classic by my favourite dog trainer Dr Ian Dunbar. At least now I know the correct method to reinforce so to ensure my safety in future, should it happen again.
As for toys, it have been a while since lele last socialised. She don’t like other dogs to snatch toys from her when out at the dog run. Most of the time she will try to get her toy back by knocking on other dogs or being sneaky when the dogs drop the toy. There is a couple of times that she growl at other dogs who tried to take her ball. I will simply stepped in, take the toy and tell her “No”. Subesequently I will keep the toy to avoid unnecessary conflicts between the dogs.
So these are the negative behaviors lele has been showing. I like to share my experiences so that others will take note especially not repeating my insensible actions. My actions may not work for your furkids but at least to understand the importance to teach and correct them when their behaviors are inappropriate. We do not want them to get hurt or hurting other people resulting to a point of no return.
Next up will be the positive actions she has been surprising me!!!
“I’m watching you. Do not come near my poof…”
Le Le Beauty Sleep Regime + Daily Activity
0800 – 0900 - Wake up to send pappi to work
0900 – 1130 = ZZzzzzz…… sleep
1130 – 1300 – Brunch play and training time
1300 – 1530 = zzzzz… sleep
1530 – 1630 - play and roaming around time
1630 – 1830 = zzzz…. sleep
1830 – 2200 – Dinner, play, training and walk time (at times in between slept for 1 hour)
2200 – 0800 (next day) = sleep *snore snore ZZZZZzzzzz….. (tends to wake up for position shifting and pee sometimes)
Day 9 of Le Le season - Le Le has been so lethargic nowadays. Sleep and sleep and sleep. Even when I tried playing with her or going through her training routine, she just seems not keen. So is the hormones acting up on her? Her vulva area has since swollen to the size of ping pong ball. Her licking frenzy once again activated on her paws, stomach and vulva. As read on net, it was mentioned to be a normal behavior. But should we prevent her from doing it, since such actions for female dogs is more of a “cleaning” activity during heat season.
2 days ago, we realised lele has bitten her tail until reddish. I have applied Neem oil on her wounds and today the reddish seems to subside but there are pus from her bitten wound. This is the first time I saw such wound on her and its heartaching. She’s on KONG Cloud Collar now as to prevent her from licking but yet she still can do her yoga twisting and manage to reach her tail. But she is unable to reach her vulva areas which solve my earlier doubt since she has to wear her cloud collar. The good thing about the KONG Cloud Collar is lele has no resistant against it. She simply treat it like a neck pillow and wore it throughout her sleep.
But that was not the case when I first wore it on her. She struggle, shake profusely, did her pawing kung-fu just to get rid of this odd thingy on her neck. Immediately using distraction and positive reinforcement methods, I dished out her favourite squeaky toy and we played and ran around the house. Soon later she forget about her neck cushion. Subsequently I took it off. And a while later, I put it back on her again and there comes the treats and praises when she did not try to remove collar. In this way, she will associate the Cloud Collar with all the positive actions.
Tomorrow I’m going to bring her to the vet and had her wound examine. Hope we will find the cause and it will get better.
Being a first time dog owner and having the first dog as a beagle is a huge challenge. Beagle is and has been known as stubborn, destroyer, hyeractive, do not obey… But is all that true? Well they may not be the smartest dog breed in the doggie world but i believe every dog has its own character.
There are dogs up for adoption due to some reasons, one of which are owners giving up on their dogs due to uncontrollable behavior. But have the owners ever ask themselves, WHY. Most of the time, owners who abandoned their dogs are the cause of the unwanted behaviors. Excuses, excuses….. If you know you do not have the time and commitment, why bother to get a pet in the first place. If unable to teach, why insist on ownership.
It is important to research prior to getting a dog, a lapdog for a busy lifestyle or an energetic dog for the athletic oneself. Dogs are lifetime commitment and decisions should not be taken lightly.
Our first problem when lele join our family is getting her potty-train. It was indeed a hard time getting her to pee at the designated location and on paper. Personally it takes consistency. Everytime when she is allow to roam around the house, tight suvellience is target on her every move. It is indeed tiring and whenever she tries to pee or poo at other location she should not be, we will scoop her up immediately (+ saying “Nooooooo”) and bring her to the pee tray. The action will usually get her startled and had her remaining waste retracted back to her body. But when she got it right, we will praise and treat her happily. Definately once a while, we will detect a pee or poo without knowing, simply just clean it up and ignore her. Don’t use the traditional method of bringing her to sniff the waste.
I insist on positive reinforcement methods. Therefore as times goes, she gradually get right almost 99% rate, treat will be occasionally. However praise are always given.
So fellow first time owners, don’t be disheartened if your pup is unable to get it right. Mine took around 2 month for her 99% rate. Yet today she hit the 1% of peeing on her bed. Somemore still look at me when doing it. Le Le tend to test my temper at times. So remember to hold your anger.