October 31, 2006

Dusty's semi-siblings

Heelersridge Riverina (River) has six lovely puppies by Dusty's dad Gr Ch Bangeeri AussieAlchemist (Darcy). Five red, one blue, three males and three females, at Heelers Ridge Kennel.

October 29, 2006

Agility Distractions

Have we proofed sufficiently for thunder and lightning?

October 27, 2006

Obstacle names

I'm not sure how much notice dogs take of agility obstacle names, but it gives the handler something to yell in moments of desperation, and they are useful in putting an obstacle behaviour on cue. Some ideas on what to call the various obstacles follows:

  • Dog Walk - Dog walk, cat walk, walk it, walk on, walk up, plank.
  • A-Frame - Scramble, climb, mountain, charge, wall.
  • Teeter - Teeter, see saw, tip it, careful.
  • Table - Table, place, rest, park it, get on.
  • Tire - Tire, circle, middle, hoop, ring.
  • Tunnel - Tunnel, through, zoom.
  • Chute - Chute, tunnel, through, push, gogogo.
  • Jumps - Jump, hup, over, get up.
  • Spread jumps -Hup hup, jump, over, big jump, big hup, big over, big.
  • Weaves - Weave, poles, weavies, wiggle, snakie, in-out, zig-zag, boogie.
  • Contacts - Get it, bottom, spot, touch, wait, easy.

October 26, 2006

Dog Blog

As Jon walks around San Francisco, he encounters dogs tied to things, takes their pictures, and offers them up to the world with whatever commentary springs to mind.

Great idea, great photos and witty, observant comments. Dog Blog.

Wet Dog

Ogden Nash wrote:

The Dog
The truth I do not stretch or shove

When I state that the dog is full of love.
I've also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.

My dogs end up in the water most days, so I have a regular towelling off routine before they hop in the car - if there are still dog towels in the car, and if I'm quick enough to grab them both before they jump in, or if I could be bothered to take the time and don't just shrug it off with a "the car needs a clean, anyway."

They shake on command, but that does only so much. I have 'miracle' and 'magic' dog towels but they still have to be vigorously applied to two dogs. So I like the sound of these dog coats - Trover ® Bone Dry . Made and lined with super soft looper fleece, the coats are hydrophilic and dry dog quickly as they wear them. They can also be put on wet, as a cool coat in hot weather.

Put the coat on, and the upholstery is protected while the coat drys the dog on the way home. Now that is magic.

October 25, 2006

Victoria Stilwell

I'm sucked into watching It's Me or the Dog on a Sunday evening, if only to be continually suprised at just how stupid dog owners can be, and to watch Victoria send them to the naughty corner.

From a review by Aerial Telly:

The philosopher Michel Foucault wrote that the techniques perfected in the penal system were transmitted through to wider society via "the carceral archipelago" creating a whole society of docile bodies submitting to the will of the state.

What I believe the baldy turd was trying to say is that condign discipline is going transnational and is no longer the preserve of prison inmates and pervert businessmen. Spare the rod and spoil the klutz is the mantra and TV is the bludgeon the state is using to break our will.

Supernanny brought toddlers into line, Teenage Brat Camp gave sk8er bois a reason to live and the 'hilariously' misandrist Bring Your Man to Heel showed how your husband could be trained like a dog.

Now we've come full circle and dogs are being treated like husbands - which is to say like dogs. It's Me Or The Dog is the latest in a catalogue of behaviour alteration projects beamed into our homes with the same message - "step out of line and you'll be next, Fido".

Dog trainer Victoria Stilwell is the agent of the state - making house calls on disruptive dogs and straight punking their asses.

You probably know the drill by now - good behaviour is rewarded and bad behaviour is punished. Give the dog more exercise and slap some sense into the owner. And the dog is told to get the fuck off the sofa or get its bollocks cut off.

October 24, 2006

Cavaletti Calculator

Cavaletti jumps are borrowed from the horse world. They are low jumps and their intended usage is to teach stride and collection for jumping. Cavelettis help to make dogs think of where their feet are going and what they need to be doing next. They are placed at various distances apart, often in relation to the length of a stride - 2 strides apart, 1 1/2 ...

The Cavaletti Calculator gives instructions for building portable cavalettis that can be rotated to provide four different jump heights.

October 20, 2006

Thommo at Armidale

Thommo had a good weekend too, bringing home quallies. In this run, he had clipped the spread, became very worried and slowed to a walk, got a pat and a pep-talk and perked up to cross the finish line here with a big grin (and a DQ).

Armidale trial

Tim drove over 3,000 kms to get to the Armidale trial and back home to Townsville. When he wasn't judging or running borrowed dogs he was taking photos.

October 18, 2006

Dusty's first trial

I was entering Thommo in a trial at Armidale, a country event that is usually a great, friendly weekend in a fun location - with rabbits to chase and a creek to swim in - and Dusty turned 18 months this week so I entered her in two Jumping events, one each day.

She was great! She really enjoyed herself, mostly followed direction, and jumped the jumps cleanly. In both events we had a staggered line of jumps leading to a tunnel, and both times she caught sight of the tunnel and headed off to it, but she came back when I called. We got a fault for passing the plane of the next jump so no quallies, but great runs just the same.

It was the first time she had done more than six or eight obstacles in a row, the first time she had seen a spread hurdle, and she had only been jumping 500mm for a week.

October 12, 2006

Learning the Rules

Another story from If Dogs Could Talk that has implications for agility training:

Csanyi set up an experiment in the lab with three groups; children aged 4 to 6, graduate students, and adult dogs. In the room were three large screens. The experimenter would place a ball in a plastic bucket, watched by the participant. He would then go behind each of the screens in turn, putter about for a moment, and emerge to show the participant whether the ball was still in the bucket or not. The he (in the case of the grad students) or the dog's owner, or the children's kindergarten teacher, would give a signal to find the ball. The grad students only made one error, and the dogs and children both had success rates that were much higher than could be achieved at random.

In the next stage of the experiment, the experimenter quite obviously put the ball in his pocket, showed the participant the empty bucket, and then disappeared behind each screen in turn pretending to leave the ball and showing the empty bucket after each.

All three groups had a few smartypants who immediately indicated that the experimenter had the ball in his pocket. But 50% of the grad students, 55% of children, and 75% of the dogs ostentatiously searched behind the screens for the ball before returning to the experimenter.

When the children and students were asked, they said that they felt that searching behind the screens was the essence of the game, regardless of where the ball was. Csanyi says "I see no reason to doubt that the dogs had similar ideas."

This and other experiments showed that dogs can learn the rules through patterning.

The problem is that we are often unaware of what the rule is that the dogs are learning. I think there are some dogs out there who know the rule "Walk up the ramp, across the top, jump off, mum puts me back on, I wait and she gives me a treat."

Morgan Spector said something that I mis-remember but it was like "Once is an aberration, twice is a pattern, three times is a lifestyle."

October 09, 2006

Canine Communication

Csanyi undertook a series of experiments with dogs at the University to test their symbolic communication. The dogs were taught to bring shaped pieces of wood to indicate different wants. (The dogs were very successful at using the wood pieces to symbolise what they wanted.) He also taught a few of these to his dog Jerry at home.

One day they had been out and Jerry had been given a number of hot dogs at lunch time, so for the evening meal he received a very small portion. Jerry ate this quickly, and then took the appropriately shaped wood to Csanyi asking for something to eat. Not getting any response, he repeated the action several times, then went and lay on the balcony with the wood between his paws.

After a minute or two, he got up, picked up the wood, and dropped it over the side of the balcony.

October 03, 2006

If Dogs Could Talk

I've been reading Vilmos Csanyi's book If Dogs Could Talk : Exploring the Canine Mind and would recommend it highly. He is a professor and head of a department of ethology (the study of animal behaviour) at a university in Budapest, and the book has a strong scientific base, but it is enlivened with anecdotal stories about his own two dogs.

Unlike those books that see dogs' evolution from the wolf as a reason for imposing pack hierarchies on pets, Csanyi's research shows that we have created the domestic dog in the course of living with them for tens of thousands of years. In this long process dogs lost many of the characteristics of their wolf ancestors, and in their place gained "the ability to love, a well-developed social intelligence, the human tools of collaboration, and the ability to understand human behaviour."

His experiments suggest that dogs do not see their housemates as a pack, but rather as a team that functions collaboratively.