Tag Archives: puppy

Glowing Dogs Cloned in South Korea

On this one, I have one thing to say….  Wow!

I’m a little overwhelmed by the idea is all.

Scientists in South Korea have claimed to have cloned the worlds first “glowing” dogs.  A litter of Beagle puppies, dubbed “Ruppies”, a combination of the word ruby and puppies, were engineered to glow red under ultraviolet light.  The puppies parts where the skin is normally more thin, appears red at all times, regardless of the light conditions.

Read the entire story at http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/Health/wireStory?id=7447906

Yep.  Just what the world needs….  scary glowing puppies.  If nothing else, I truly hope the genes introduced into their DNA do not compromise their health or ability to live normal functioning lives.


Is This a Hint?

Not too long ago I was sitting on the couch in the living room with my baby girl Lily-Ann.  She was having a bit of quiet time.  She was by my side, my arm around her, her head on one of my legs, having a nice cuddle

Normally I insist Roo stay in which ever room I happen to be in.  She’s an adolescent Chihuahua, and as such, is prone to mischief.  However, this afternoon I was rather lax.  I was enjoying the cuddle time with Lily, and so allowed Roo to wander a bit.

Roo had been out of my sight for a couple of minutes – it really hadn’t been long or I’d have called her.  She was being nice and quiet, which should have been my first tip-off.  Whenever a toddler or puppy is out of sight and quiet, a person should ALWAYS check in on them.

Well, Roo came bounding into the living room where Lily-Ann and I were cuddled up.   She pounced onto the side of my lap that was unoccupied, and dropped my clicker on my leg.  Think she was hinting at something?

So, our tiny “she-chi” had to get my treat bag from off the counter in the kitchen, then fish the clicker out of the pocket before bringing it to me.  Smart little bugger.  Obviously our ten minutes of clicker time earlier this afternoon hadn’t been enough.  Little fart cracks me up.

After inspecting the counter and the treat bag, which was then resting on the floor.  I have no idea how she got up at it.  Dinky little thing is a half a foot at the shoulder (guessing), and there are no chairs or stools near by.  Yet there’s the treat bag on the floor.  Sans clicker.

Guess I should go cut up some more treats.  😉

Continuing with Sit… two steps forward, one step back

Training sessions like today are why I always remind my students not to get too wrapped up in how their dog is coming along (in regards to the training). Things may be going along better than you could have hoped, and then it feels like you’re going backwards. Not every dog learns everything at the same pace as every other dog, and like us, dogs have off days too. It’s important not to get frustrated. No matter how things are going, stay upbeat, and just have fun being with your dog.

As you know, things were going swimmingly with Roo. Her first training sessions exceeded my expectations. She’s such a quick learner, and I love working with her. She’s a total hoot.

It’s been a few days since I was last able to devote some real time to working with Roo. I’d been busy with Green Party business (planning and hosting an Energy Policy Forum) that finally wrapped up last night. I was so happy to have some time to really work with my wee girl again.

Today we had a major set back. Roo was so giddy and happy to be clicking with me, that she had next to no focus. She was jumping all over the place, couldn’t hold a sit for more than a moment, spent half her time sniffing the ground. It would have been really easy to get frustrated or fed-up… but you know what? This wasn’t her fault. I hadn’t given her as much time from me as she needed, so she had all sorts of pent up energy. So we put away the clicker, and just had a crazy game of Chihuahua-style wrestling (and a whole lot of laughs).

Roo needed a chance to just be a goofy puppy with me. One-on-one. With nothing else competing for my attention. It was a good reminder for me. It’s easy to get caught up with how well your dog is doing when everything seems to be going right… but the whole reason we do any of this is because of how wonderful it is to spend time with our furry family members. Sometimes one step back can be a lot more fun than another step forward.


Training Sit – Correct Position

Today Roo and I continued working on “sit”.  While yesterday I clicked for any and all sits, any distance from me, facing any direction, today we “upped the stakes”.  Because we are preparing for obedience competition, “sit” is not just a bum on the floor, it also requires a certain position in relation to the handler.  Today we began working towards proper position.

Initially, I clicked and treated for any sit, then slowly became more discriminating.  Instead of clicking for a sit five feet from me, I’d place her treat (post click) near my feet.  This required her to come in close to retrieve it before I’d ask for another sit.  After a few repeats she was sitting nice and close.  Then it became a matter of shaping her direction.  So not only did she have to come in nice and close to earn a click, she also had to direct her body towards me.

Remember, when working with your own dog, you may or may not be able to move quickly through this.  Some dogs pick up on some concepts quickly, while others take time.  If it takes four or five sessions to get proper placement, that’s okay.  Roo picked up on this quickly, but may not be so quick to grasp other skills.

Here’s a quick photograph of her sitting in excellent position for “sit”.

Roo, the Chihuahua puppy, in proper "sit" position.

Roo, the Chihuahua puppy, in proper "sit" position.

As you can see, this session I worked in bare feet.  Being so tiny Roo is often cautious around feet…  so getting in nice and close required a big leap on her part (and I gave her a nice big “jackpot” of treats the first time she did it).  Next time I will wear socks, and then sandals, then sneakers, and then I’ll likely try boots as well.  Slowly upping the criterion for the click, and building her confidence in the process.

For more information on beginning to click with your dog, or your toy breed dog in particular, visit me at http://www.noselicks.com/

Teaching “Sit”

I began clicking with our Chihuahua puppy Roo a couple of days ago. Today was our third session. Previously we introduced the clicker, and then worked on eye contact. Today we began with “sit”. Which made me think… perhaps a quick post or two on the basics might be useful.

I believe very strongly in free shaping. What this refers to is one of many processes by which you can introduce a cue or designate a behavior as desired. Free shaping is allowing the dog to offer actions or responses to the situation then labeling certain actions as positive. It is 100% hands off, and allows you and your dog to problem solve together. It’s really a wonderful, wonderful way to build confidence and trust in one another.

In teaching “sit”, we are giving a label to a behavior the dog already performs naturally. To free shape a sit, we are going to sit back with our clicker and treats, and watch. Eventually your dog is going to sit down. Likely when they get bored of trying to get your attention. Some dogs will wander around for some time, others will sit fairly quickly – be patient.

As soon as your dog sits down, click and offer them a treat. Repeat.

Initially your dog will have to get up out of the sit to come and get the treat from you. Soon enough though, you’ll find him sitting right in front of you immediately after taking the previous treat. To get your dog out of the sit position, so you can get him to repeat it (instead of maintaining it) toss the treat a couple of feet away. Make sure he sees you do so, so that he can find it quickly.

Roo began offering the sit quickly after only a few repetitions, but many dogs will take longer. Don’t fret. Some pick up on certain behaviors quickly and others more slowly – this is not an indication of their intelligence or your ability as a trainer. Just keep at it, and you’ll both have it down pat soon enough.

When you are about 90% certain your dog will perform the desired behavior, add the cue (in this case, “sit”). Say it right before that bum hits the floor. Then click and treat as earlier. After a few repeats your dog will begin associating this word with the behavior.

Throughout your training sessions do your best to refrain from talking to your dog. Let the clicker be your voice, communicating your pleasure with his behavior. It’s faster and more efficient than we could be without it. Save your verbal praise, pets, pats, and cuddles for after the session. Also, keep your rate of reinforcement high. The more often and quicker you are able to reward your dog, the better. If you aren’t clicking soon enough when first introducing a behavior your dog may get frustrated and give up.

Today, Roo and I only worked for about four minutes (after the first time she offered the sit). She’s a high energy six month old puppy with a limited attention span… it’s far better to stop before she begins to wander. We were able to introduce the cue in this time frame, and had about ten repetitions afterwards. If we were to work in another room next time, I would not expect her to know what the cue meant – despite excellent performance today. A different room, different distractions, all communicate different things to your dog. So next time, we’ll work somewhere else, or we’ll work with me standing rather than sitting. By slowly changing the environment, yet requiring the same behavior she will eventually understand that “sit” means sit – regardless of where we are or what we’re doing.

So keep at it, and have fun. Free shaping is a great way to train with your dog – and you’ll likely learn as much as they do in the process.

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to wish you all a Happy, Safe, and Healthy New Year! Cuddle your furbabies close during these cold snowy (well, at least it’s cold and snowy here in Saskatchewan) days. For something to dispel the winter blahs, why not play a clicker game? Here’s a quick and easy one that most any dog (and hu-mom or dad) can enjoy.

101 Things to do with a Box

Place a box, or other object in the center of the room (a hat, tennis racket, junk mail, old purse, etc will all work). Find a comfy seat, where you have easy access to a container of treats (some dogs will happily work for kibble, some require a little higher a motivator). Hold onto your clicker, and watch your dog.

We begin this game with no expectations. We aren’t working towards a specific behavior, we’re just going to see what our dog offers us and go from there.

Click for any interactions with the box. Some dogs will dive right in, others may warm up to it a little slower. Here’s a list of examples of clickable behaviors:

looking at the box

walking towards the box

nosing the box

pawing the box

mouthing the box

rubbing against the box

pushing the box

tipping the box

walking around the box

jumping near the box

climbing on, in, or around the box

Any interactions at all should earn your dog a click and a treat.

You will notice that your dog has a tendency towards one specific type of interaction. Some are more likely to use their feet, others their mouths or noses, and others are more body focused. After you’ve been playing for a few minutes, decide to either end the session, or start building behaviors. If you do end the session, you can always come back later and start to build a more concrete behavior.

For a dog who used his paws, why not teach him to tip the box over? For a dog who used his nose, perhaps teaching him to push the box would be fun and useful. With a dog who has a penchant for chewing the box, teach him to grab and pull. There are lots of other cues you can teach using this game too. Cues like “target”, “in”, “over”, “around”, “on”. Have fun with it!

Just remember, wherever the box game leads you, take it slow, and don’t expect giant leaps in behavior. Think small baby steps. Click often. Keep your rate of reinforcement high.

And again…


The Best Age to Buy a Puppy

Dear DogMa:

What is the correct age for a puppy to be sold? I thought it was 6-8 weeks. I am looking at a sheltie puppy – the owners say it is ready to go now, at 5 ½ weeks. (it is getting its first puppy shots today at the vet) Is that close enough?


Janice, thanks so much for your question, it’s one I’m sure a lot of people have.

There is a whole lot of misinformation that is out there about what age is safe to adopt or purchase a puppy. Honestly? If you ask this question of a dozen dog people, you are likely to get a dozen different answers. But anyone who is worth their salt will tell you to wait until AT LEAST eight weeks.

I would caution you to stay away from any breeder who wants you to take a pup at such a young age. At five and a half weeks, he/she is MUCH to young to be leaving his/her mom. This breeder obviously does not have the best interest of this pup at heart, and is probably a “greeder” (back yard breeder, or puppy mill – both which produce puppies for profit). You’d be best to find another litter from a responsible breeder.*

Personally I like to see a litter stay with their dam until they are about twelve weeks. By this point they have had the chance to wean naturally, have learned a lot of valuable dog language, have passed their first fear period (which happens at about eight weeks), and have learned good bite inhibition. The extra few weeks really does make a HUGE difference in the development of a pup. You will be thankful they had mom around to teach and mentor them – as it saves you and your family a whole lot of time and frustration. Your pup will be a more confident and good-natured member of your family, thanks to a little patience on your part.

*read my article on how to identify a good breeder at http://noselicks.com/pb/wp_bf41505f/wp_bf41505f.html