Yesterday, we went hiking with my friend. It was a nice afternoon, apart from two showers: one of water, the other one of hail. In the first picture, we are waiting out the short hail shower. I quickly dressed Una in my spare coat. She remained dry, looking like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood’s clothes (susi Punahilkan vaatteissa) 😉
On our way back, we had a light rain shower. Una was dressed in her pretty new rain jacket. It fits Una well: doesn’t hinder any movement but protects her well. The only thing missing is a hood 🙂
Sign language and handling
Today, I have listened to a lecture on the sign language and stress of dogs. This was organised by Heiluva Häntä. Miira Rauhamäki gave the lecture. There was not very much new information, I have read quite a lot about dogs over the years. But there is always something. I learned today that even if you reward your dog with food while she is barking, or showing fear or aggression in some other way, you won’t reinforce that emotion. Eating always has a calming effect. So, even if your timing is off big time, feeding is always for the better in those situations!
Even though I have read a lot, I’m out of practice. The technical skill and experience in training is a totally different subject than theoretical knowledge. And in many techniques, I don’t have any previous training/practice: things have come a long way from the times I had my previous dog! Therefore, I’m really looking forward to the Arkatassu-course with Una, starting next week 🙂
This weekend, we have had a few short training sessions with Una. We have practiced handling. Taking Una’s muzzle in my hand and clipping her hair with scissors = C-T (click and treat). She got a nice makeover on her brows and beard while practicing. She was adorable: remaining very still with her muzzle in my hand, to earn the click 🙂
The more difficult subject is taking Una’s paw in my hand and clipping her nails or hair in that area. We are taking things slow, since Una is clearly worried about that. We have made good progress with calm and gentle paw handling and nail clipping in a pleasant situation (going out), but Una has remained a bit uncomfortable with having her paws handled. This is the reason I decided to start reinforcing staying calm and relaxed while being handled in a more systematic and effective way: using food as a reward (C-T). After our first session today, Una is truly comfortable with me holding her paw and pressing the pads with my fingers. I will report our progress! It would be nice to have someone feeding Una for the entire time I’m handling her paws, but I only have two hands, so I will have to settle for C-T…
Here is a good opportunity to comment on an author whose text and videos I have found valuable and inspiring. I absolutely adore Dr. Sophia Yin’s knowledge and methods! I have paged through a couple of her books at Heiluva Häntä. I also follow her blog. She has a very practical, simple and logical approach with a solid scientific background. Following her instructions is easy if you have some idea of training techniques and the logic behind it (when and how to reward, and so on…). I highly recommend all her materials! She also has a book about low-stress handling and restraining techniques for dogs and cats (hint hint, those of you working at a vet clinic…).
Una is sleeping now, happy after her evening walk in our home forest, and a nice cheese-cube searching session at home 🙂