April 29, 2005

Naming Dogs

Most breeders name their litters in a way that the individuals can be recognised as belonging to that litter. Some just go alphabetically, others have themes for each litter - like the "Philosophies of Life" litter in the puppy diary. Some go for a combination of the Sire and Dam's names.

The Kennel Clubs have regulations covering the types of names that can be registered.

The AKC limits the name to thirty characters, including spaces and hyphens, and permits thirty-seven dogs of each breed to be assigned the same name. Under AKC rules, the words and phrases that may not be included in a dog's name are:
  • Champion, champ, sieger or any other AKC title or show term.
  • Obscenities and words derogatory to any race, creed or nationality.
  • Kennel(s), male, stud, sire, bitch, dam and female.
  • Breed names alone.
  • There are no restrictions on numbers that are spelled out.

The CKC also allows thirty characters but will reject a name if :

  • The name of a member of the Royal Family is part of the dog name.
  • The name of a national leader is part of the dog name.
  • The name is similar to a CKC-registered kennel name.
  • The name is similar to a registered kennel name of a national kennel club that has a working agreement with the CKC (i.e., the American Kennel Club).
  • A dog of the same breed currently has the same name.
  • The proposed name is considered unsuitable for a purebred dog.
The KC-UK doesn't prohibit the names of the Royal Family, its guidelines say:
  • A name must consist of more than one word but not exceed 24 letters.
  • The surname of the applicant is not acceptable.
  • A word cannot be repeated when naming puppies.
  • Canine terms are not permissible, e.g. "dog", "bitch", "Kennel",
    "Champion", "Crufts" and specific names of breeds.
  • The Kennel Club reserves the right to refuse any name, which it considers
    inappropriate or offensive.

The VCA has similar rules but also:

  • The use of apostrophes and the letter (‘s), which goes with it and all hyphens shall not be permitted in names.
  • The use of names of towns, places, countries, notable persons, common names, or names that are misleading as to sex, origin or relationship may be refused.
  • A name once registered shall not again be re-registered in the same breed.

April 25, 2005

Puppy Diaries

There are some wonderful puppy journals published online. I appreciate the huge task this must be on top of all the other time consuming taks that a litter involves - like sitting and watching them for hours.

Rosie is an excellent mum, she is taking good care of the babies and they are thriving.

Puppy pile, left patch girl on top.

Rosie's puppies. One boy, in front with no face patches, and two girls, left eye patch and right eye patch.

April 21, 2005

The Precocious Learning Period

This is another early conditioning period that occurs between 2-3 weeks and 12-14 weeks. The behaviours of particulat interest in this phase are elimination, eating and vocalization.

From three weeks on, the puppy tends to leave its bedding to eliminate, and by 8 weeks it eliminates in specific spots where typical odors spark the elimination reflex. If this critical period is used to condition puppy to eliminating in an appropriate spot, then house training by the new owner is a simple matter of respecting the socio-ecological conditions the puppy is used to. If the 3-4 week old puppy is allowed to leave the bedding area, and use strategically placed litter appropriately scent marked then house training is well on its way. Experiments (described in Dehasse) with puppies limited to one area, showed that at 15 weeks it was impossible for them to learn to use other media and locations to the point where they would 'hold on' for hours until they returned to their bedding area.

Food conditioning studies have been conducted on cats, and it seems that there is a 'food imprinting' phase during the period from 3 to 12 weeks, where feeding puppy on a single type of food, invariable in taste , texture and appearance can lead to long-term preferences and rejection of other types of food. During this precocious learning period, puppy should be introduced to the range of food that will form his adult diet.

Barking from distress when left alone in an unknown place, increases from 3 to 6-8 weeks and then decreases until 12 weeks, reflecting a progressive attachment to a familiar place followed by increasing emotional maturity. When a puppy is acquired at seven weeks and left alone at night it will bark in distress. If it then receives reinforcement for barking through attention it may not move beyond this stage, and will always fret when left. If steps are taken to keep its environment fairly familiar (like putting its crate in your room) until it reaches 12 weeks and is emotionally mature enough to cope with a new environment, then it will not develop the habit of barking when left alone.

I think this is incredibly interesting, and it flies in the face of most advice to new puppy owners to "start as you mean to continue".

Dehasse says that barking is easy to condition. In the wild vocalisation diminishes with maturity as the pup adopts intraspecific communication such as postures and rituals. However communication with humans reinforces the vocal element. By constantly 'barking' at them, we actually teach our dogs the habit that most annoys dog owners and their neighbours.

The rule of sevens.

The rule of sevens is used as a checklist to count off new experiences. By the time a puppy is seven weeks old it should have:

Been on 7 different surfaces, such as:

  • carpet
  • concrete
  • wood
  • vinyl
  • grass
  • dirt
  • gravel
  • wood chips
  • newspaper etc.

Played with 7 different types of objects, such as:

  • big balls
  • small balls
  • soft fabric toys
  • fuzzy balls
  • squeaky toys
  • metal items
  • wooden items
  • paper/cardboard items
  • milk/soda jugs etc.

Been in 7 different locations, including:

  • front yard
  • backyard
  • basement
  • kitchen
  • car
  • garage
  • laundry room
  • bathroom
  • crate
  • kennel etc.

Been exposed to 7 challenges, such as:

  • climbed up and down steps
  • been in a swing
  • gone through a tunnel
  • looked in a mirror
  • negotiated a ramp
  • walked along a beam
  • played hide and seek
  • gone in and out of a doorway etc.

Eaten from 7 different containers:

  • metal
  • plastic
  • cardboard
  • deep
  • shallow
  • raised
  • portable etc.

Eaten in 7 different locations:

  • crate
  • yard
  • kitchen
  • basement
  • laundry room
  • bedroom
  • x-pen etc.

Met and played with 7 new people, including:

  • children
  • with beards
  • with glasses
  • with hats or flowing clothes
  • elderly
  • with deep voices
  • with bikes or skateboards

At Soft Maple Curly Coat Retrievers, the puppies have access to a large playroom. The playroom has swings suspended from the ceiling. Toys with sqeakies and bells hanging from above. Ramps, tunnels, toys, stairs, rugs, balls, bones, boxes . Different textures, sounds and surfaces for the pups to explore. The pups are introduced to birds, wings and feathers.

The Homeostasis Period

Homeostasis is the ability to maintain equilibrium in a variable environment, to keep calm while things around you are changing.

The ability to cope with new stimuli, and adapt to new environments is learned. Innate fears do exist in some animals, though they have yet to be demonstrated in dogs. However a large number of fears arise from an individual's development.

The period that begins with the puppy's sensory development, 3 weeks, and ends when it develops a fear of the unknown, 12 to 14 weeks, is the period during which it is easier to establish emotional homeostasis through a process of organising stimuli from the outside world, and classifying them as known or unknown, agreeable or disagreeable, same or different. Through this process the puppy develops a frame of reference which allows it to classify new stimuli throughout its life and respond appropriately.

If puppy is exposed to a wide range of stimuli during this period, it will rapidly adapt to almost all human environments without stress.

The socialization/domestication period

By three weeks of age a puppy has learned that it is a dog, by recognising its mother (filial imprinting), developing a social preference for dogs (fraternal imprinting) and establishing a sexual orientation (sexual imprinting). Having identified its own species, it can then learn to interact with other species.

Dehasse says that puppies demonstrate an investigation-attraction behavior towards the unfamiliar as soon as they are able to express this attraction, at around three weeks. This attraction subsides after the fifth week until at least nine weeks. The attraction behavior recedes under the influence of fear-of-the-unknown behavior which grows slowly after five weeks.

Puppies raised in isolation from humans readily approached an observer at three to five weeks. But when contact was delayed until fourteen weeks the puppy actively avoided the observer, and attempts to socialise the puppy were unsuccessful.

The experiments Dehasse describe suggest:
  1. Interspecies socialisation (including domestication) is easily acquired in the socialisation period but requires permanent reinforcement to avoid de-socialization. (Puppy needs ongoing friendly contact throughout life to remain socialised.)
  2. It is not generalisable to all individuals of the species concerned but remains limited to the individual's characteristics. (Thus a puppy socialised to a young woman and her girlfriends will not be socialised to men with glasses, old ladies with walking sticks or playing children.)

The interactive presence of other species in this period (cats, chickens etc) also leads to interspecies socialisation and attachment and counters predatory behavior. So if you want your puppy to live with other animals, introduce them during this period.

April 20, 2005

The neonatal period

The neonatal period is from birth to the day the eyes open, at around 13 days old.

The newborn puppy is a completely dependent being, orienting itself by touch and heat sensitivity but with seemingly limited capacity to control its activities or to learn. Research into the neonate is in its early stages, however it is possible that the future holds surprising discoveries about the importance of this period, especially concerning the effect of manipulation on neuro-hormonal development.

Of particular interest to people raising working dogs is the development of the serotonin reflex. Serotonin is involved in managing emotions and making judgements, it keeps us focused and calm.

When a puppy receives a mildly new stimulus, it startles and the cerebral cortex releases norepinephrine (or noradrenaline) initiating the fight-or-flight response. The hair sleeks, muscle tone increases, and the heart rate rises. When puppy is reassured the serotonin system turns off the alarm, triggering a relaxation response where muscles relax and the heart rate drops.

A puppy raised in isolation without any new stimuli will have a 'strong' norepinephrine system, and a 'weak' serotonin system. It will tend towards a fight response to even minor threats. A puppy that is heavily stressed during this period will have the reverse, and will be inclined to be fearful and overly submissive.

The norepinephrine and serotonin systems are described by Lithgow as the dogs work/rest systems. The systems need to be in balance to have a good working dog. He says to pick the best pup from a litter, measure their heart rates at one week old. The puppy with the highest heart rate has the best 'work' system. Then subject it to mild stress to develop its 'rest' system. His mild stress program is similar to Battaglia's Bio Sensor program.

The prenatal period

When a pregnant animal is petted her litter is more docile, and this effect can be heightened by caresses to the new-born. The 'caress effect' facilitates relaxation, digestion and emotional attachment and thus socialisation as well.

Dehasse describes a number of experiments where the results suggest that when a pregnant dog is given a friendly and caring human environment with affectionate physical contact, the friendliness and emotional balance of the puppies is increased.

A good reason for choosing a small home breeder. I've no doubt that Rosie got lots of pats and tummy rubs throughout her pregnancy.

The concept of sensitive periods

I’ve been reading a fascinating article Sensory, Emotional, and Social Development of the Young Dog. It says that it is as though the puppy were in a train with all the windows closed. At certain points a window opens and the information outside is available. If the puppy accesses that information they acquire that particular social, emotional or behavioural development. That window then closes and another opens, and it becomes much more difficult for the puppy to access the information that was outside the first window.

This notion of learning in phases has various names: sensitive period, critical moment, optimal stage and so on. Dehasse uses ‘sensitive period’ saying that this is a point in the maturing process when events are likely to have long term effects, or a period when learning is easier and knowledge gained is stored in the long term-memory. During the sensitive period, small experiences can have major effects on future behaviour.

April 19, 2005

Early Neurological Stimulation

Studies for the US Military canine program have revealed that that early neurological stimulation exercises could have important and lasting effects in the development of a working dog. The studies confirmed that there are specific time periods early in a puppy's life when neurological stimulation has optimum results. The first period involves a window of time that begins at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth day. It is believed that because this interval of time is a period of rapid neurological growth and development, and therefore is of great importance to the individual. The stimulation program uses five exercises which are designed to stimulate the neurological system. Each workout involves handling puppies once each day, one at a time, while performing a series of five exercises, completing the series from beginning to end before starting with the next pup.

  1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)
  2. Head held erect
  3. Head pointed down
  4. Supine position
  5. Thermal stimulation.


Debbie Jensen's Quick Whelping Guide - fully illustrated. Let your kids see this if you were thinking of breeding your bitch just so they could witness the miracle of life.

Birth Notice

Galwarri Red Rose gave birth to three puppies on Sunday 18th April - two girls and a boy, all will be red speckle.

April 18, 2005

Sue Hogben Seminar

I spent the weekend at an Obedience seminar with Sue Hogben - very inspirational. One of the first people to adopt clicker training in Australia, Sue has had tremendous success with Spinner, who gained his Obedience Champion title before the age of 3 with 8 perfect scores.

Sue is one of the few instructors who apply postive training techniques to the humans she is teaching as well as the dogs. She treated us all as she wanted us to train our dogs - dividing behaviours up into component parts, setting us up to succeed, trying things different ways under different conditions so that we could quickly generalise, and really understand, amply rewarding success and treating a mistake as just a mistake, with an opportunity to try again at a slightly easier level.

Thompson at the beach.

Coat colours in cattle dogs.

The usual colour for a cattle dog is red or 'blue' but there are some uncommon variations - though not acceptable in the show ring, some are rather attractive.

In many dog breeds 'blue' is used to describe a black coat color that has been diluted to a slaty grey, an effect of the dilution gene. In cattle dogs the 'blue' is a grey appearance that is the result of the even dispersion of whites and black hair through the coat, an effect of the ticking gene.

More research is being done in the field of coat color genetics, and as more information is gathered more of the 'unknowns' are becoming 'known' .

A chocolate brown cattle dog.

A white ACD with some ticking and a black eye patch.

An extreme example of mottling.

This little girl is yellow.

This ACD has a well defined saddle.

April 14, 2005

In the news ...

Scientists at the University of NSW who have been working with border collie breeders to find the genetic cause of a rare inherited brain disorder, have announced that they have identified the genetic mutation responsible. Dogs affected with neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis show increasingly severe physical and mental symptoms as their brains degrade and they rarely survive beyond two to three years old. The physical symptoms differ from breed to breed, Bulldogs first show gait problems, the first sign in Miniature Shnauzers is visual problems.

The breakthrough means a test will soon be available to screen for the disease in border collies and stop if from being passed on. DNA tests have previously been available for English Setters and American Bulldogs.

Known as Batten Disease, neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses is thought to be one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases in humans, but it remains an unsolved mystery today, a puzzling disease that assures its victims of only one consistent manifestation...early death.
Batten may affect persons of any age, but primarily affects infants, toddlers and school age children, beginning unexpectedly and leading to a progressive loss of brain function that later destroys bodily functions, eventually leaving the victim totally helpless.

April 08, 2005

A melamine whelping box.
A nice piece of craftmanship with oak connectors and trim. Posted by Hello

Rosie's pregancy is progressing well.
Murray is building her a whelping box. I sent this example to inspire him, but he thought council building codes might be a problem. Posted by Hello