Sunday, February 8, 2015

Playing tug with your dog.

If you spend enough time in the dog world, you will hear a lot of seriously ignorant things.

What I read today almost made me fall out of my chair:

"I'm not too into tug of war with dogs. Yes, you can use the tug of war to teach "drop it", but you can do it other ways too, without tug of war. Tug of war is teaching your dog to hold onto things once they get their mouth around it & then to tug while it's in their mouth. It doesn't mean it mkaes them more aggressive, but it does teach them how to interact with things that they may incounter & since your using a hide, they may try it when they see a real one. It wouldn't be their fault, they would associate with their play time & think that's what you do when you incounter things like that. It may be their favorite toy, but do you really want your dog to learn to hang off of things & pull? What if your dog gets loose one day, latches onto something & your not around to give it the "leave it" or "drop it" command. I taught my Pit not to play tug of war. I didn't want her to learn she could latch onto things, I also don't play it with my Belgian for the same reason. When they go into a frantic state, their minds sometimes will shut off to our voices, & it can be hard to snap them out of it. Also, if you do play tug of war, it is best to only do it for a short period & let the dog ALWAYS win. Let it go after a short period of time & let tem celebrate that they won. It builds their confidence. I'm sure I'll be attacked by some people, but this is how I feel, & I think people should think about it more before they start doing it with their dogs."

I don't even know where to begin!

Playing tug with your dog does NOT make it aggressive, it does NOT make them think they can grab anything, just like not playing tug does NOT make it so your pit bull with NEVER grab something!

This chick is crazy - but she's not the only one. I have heard in the past of people being 'afraid' to teach their dog to play tug because they thought it would make the dog aggressive.

Playing tug with your dog gives your dog an outlet for the natural drive to grab things, shake them, pull on them, etc. If you own a Pit Bull it even further gives them an outlet to do something that comes natural to them.

Honestly, I myself have fallen into this way of thinking. I did not give my dogs enough credit. In the past when I first got Seppel I was concerned taking him lure coursing would further feed his desire to chase small things, since I have a cat I was worried he would leave the coursing field and take his desire to chase home.

True fact: the desire to chase things is already there! It doesn't matter if I take him to go chase after a plastic bag or not! He's a dog with high prey drive! Allowing him to partake in a sport where he can use the drive he was bred to have in a safe manner is a positive thing.

As it is also, there are sight hounds that will not course because they prefer live game - they know the difference between hunting an animal and chasing a plastic bag.

I think it is a ridiculous thought, especially for the OP above that because she has not allowed her Pit Bull to tug, that her dog will never on instinct grab another animal. This is a risk with any animal that has high prey drive. Hence "high prey drive" meaning they have a high propensity for wanting to chase and/or kill things!

I also do not think that it really matters what you use as a tug. I don't believe using a piece of fur will teach your dog to go after other small animals - again, if they are playing tug or chasing a lure - that drive is already there. They know that the animal fur is not a live animal. The OP was referencing the fur in the above post because the person she was responding to had a tug toy set up that used an animal fur as the tug.

Another thing I want to comment on is that your dog does NOT always have to win in tug.* If your dog has adequate drive, they don't care how many times they win - for some dogs it's the act of tugging, or the act of chasing and catching. Not the actual prize itself. You really have to know your dog. My dog Seth is pretty low prey drive and pretty low toy drive. He will play tug but I have to be careful with him because he's very sensitive about it and it is easy for him to get his feelings hurt. With Seppel I can be very aggressive and he doesn't bat an eye. For him a lot of it is the act of grabbing the thing, shaking it or pulling. If I let him win - he pushes the tug toy into me because he wants me to engage him more. 

I have also heard of people saying you should NEVER let your dog win a game of tug. That YOU should always win because if you let your dog win it makes them alpha or some other sort of BS. Like I said above - when I let Seppel win by having the toy, he brings it back to me because he wants me to play more. He 'outs' when I ask him to out, and he plays with me when I want him to play. While your dog doesn't have to win all the time, it's important to let them win some of the time. If you were playing a game, wouldn't you want to win sometimes?

So in closing, it is absolutely okay to play tug with your dog.

*If you have a dog just learning how to play tug, or are using tug training for sport - often in the beginning you do allow them to win all the time. The OP is right that winning does build confidence. As with anything you want it to be a good positive experience. However especially with apbt a lot of them have a natural drive for gripping and tugging and a dog who is already confident doesn't actually have to always win. You have to judge each dog as an individual.


A video posted by Suzanne (@plebayo) on

Friday, February 6, 2015

Liebster Award

I have been nominated for the Liebster Award by my friend Lauren and fellow blogger over at ZoePhee!

In accepting this award I have agreed to answer 11 questions that Lauren has come up with, as well as tell you 11 random facts about me!

1.) Why did you start blogging?
I started this blog because I got my very first Pit Bull and I wanted to share my experience having one. At the time that I started this blog I felt like I had a lot of dog knowledge but that even though I thought I was prepared for this type of a dog I really wasn't. I just wanted to help anyone out that may be in the same situation that I was in.

2.) If you could vacation anywhere in the world where would you go?
That's a really good question! I haven't been out of the US at all, if I could choose a vacation anywhere I think I would like to go to Germany or Ireland. I'd really like to go to Egypt and see the pyramids too!

3.) What is your favorite breed of dog and why do you like that breed?
I actually have a few favorites, but the breed I feel I will always own will be the American Pit Bull Terrier. I love their tenacity and zest for life. They are always happy and always game to do fun things.

4.) Who is your favorite dog trainer(s)?
I don't really follow very many trainers by way of the internet. I really like the folks I train with at Pet Village. I also have had an opportunity to work with Shade Whitesel she is a positive trainer who has competed at the national level in IPO. She is one of the only trainers I know of that uses positive methods that has gone super far in competition that isn't simply doing agility or fly ball. I have tremendous amounts of respect for her. I wish I lived closer because I would love to take lessons in IPO training from her.

5.) What is your favorite dog product?
Hmmm that's an interesting question. I really like this bed . I bought two of them from Bi-Mart. They are made out of egg crate foam. You can remove the foam mattress portion as well as the stuffing that is around it so they are super easy to wash. They are also easy to vacuum. The beds are big enough for two of my dogs to share and I feel like they are well worth the $53 price.

6.) Do you have any hobbies?
I really like dog training and I really like animal photography. I also like to ride horses when I have the opportunity to do so.

7.) What is your favorite exotic animal?
Elephants. I wish I could work at an elephant orphanage, I think they are amazing and intelligent creatures.

8.) How do you come up with ideas for your blog?
When I first started I mostly shared experiences with Seppel. I have made a few posts about dog care, feeding, nail trimming, etc. Then for a while a lot of my blog was about Seppel's hip surgery and his rehab, and then his recovery. Fast forward to now - I sometimes struggle with content. I don't always know what to write or rant about. I'm not sure what direction my blog will go in next.

9.) Do your dogs have any favorite foods or toys?
I'm extremely fortunate that my dogs are not picky when it comes to food. It's hard to say if they have a favorite because they will eat anything! I think Seppel's favorite toy is either the chuck-it ball or a tug toy. LiLo and Seth also have major love for the chuck-it. Playing ball is about all Seth will do.

10.)What is your most favorite activity to do with your dog?
With Seppel I love doing protection/bitework with him.
With LiLo I love being able to take her places and have her be off leash running around, she enjoys it and I can rest easy because she is reliable.
With Seth I love being able to take him into pet stores or public places because he generally gets along with anyone and any thing.

11.) If you could go anywhere(including time travel) and do anything, where would you go and what would you do?
I would love to travel back in time to Ancient Egypt - the Egyptians and Egyptology has always interested me.


Random Facts:

1.) I got Seppel from an internet friend who passed away. He flew from NC to OR. When I decided to take him I did not know what I was going to do with him, other than let him live out his life.

2.) I have broken my nose and my wrist.

3.) I had open heart surgery in 2000 to repair an atrial septal defect. [A hole].

4.) Seth had a healing fractured elbow when I got him. The rescue he was with wanted to amputate his leg.

5.) I have worked in the same veterinary clinic for 12 years.

6.) I did not take obedience classes, nor did I take rally classes before I entered Seth in a rally match. I have only taken one formal obedience class and I took it with Seppel two summers ago.

7.) I train my dogs using treats/toys/rewards/motivation, but I will use aversives where necessary.

8.) I have five tattoos and counting. Four of them are inspired by pets that I have. I also have my ears pierced and my nose pierced twice.

9.) Seth is the first dog I have ever put a title on.

10.) I clicker trained my horse to pick up a hat off of the ground.

11.) I taught all three of my dogs to run on an electric treadmill, and then transitioned them to a dog powered slatmill.

Blog Nominees:

So Fly
Danes Can Q
Exercise Finished

Here are my questions for you:

1.) Why did you start blogging?
2.) What is your favorite dog sport?
3.) What are your pet peeves about people and their animals?
4.) What is your favorite breed(s) of dog?
5.) What do you feed your dog and why do you feed that?
6.) Where is your favorite place to go with your dog?
7.) What is your favorite season and why?
8.) Do you have any goals for your blog in 2015?
9.) What is something that you enjoy doing?
10.) What is the farthest you have traveled from home?
11.) What would your dream vacation be?

Should you accept this award, here are the rules:
1. Acknowledge and accept the Liebster Award by leaving a comment on the blog where you were nominated.
2. Copy and paste the Liebster logo onto your own blog.
3. Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
4. Answer the 11 questions put to you by the person who nominated you.
5. List 11 random facts about yourself.
6. Nominate and link to 3—11 other blogs you enjoy that have less than 3000 followers.
7. List 11 questions for your Liebster Award nominees on your blog.
8. Inform your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Letters to my Crew

We're participating in a blog hop started by Murphy & Stanley called "Letter to my Dog".

In no particular order:

Dear Napolean,
When I brought you home I wasn't nearly prepared for the big personality you would eventually grow into. I had no idea that cats could be so cool. You are almost more dog-like than cat-like, which just makes me adore you even more. It's been an interesting ride trying to figure out your food allergies, but because of this you helped me learn a whole lot about dog and cat food. I'm also really sorry that you hate going to the vet, as a young kitten you had nothing but bad experiences there. However, I do really appreciate that you let me treat you at home be it blood draws or vaccines, and I am thankful you are easy to medicate. You are the best cat I have ever had, you're also the only one I've ever had to make it well into adulthood. I love you buddy!

Dear LiLo,
When I decided to take you on I had no idea of the things I wanted in a dog, I just thought you were super smart and that you would turn into a great dog. I had no idea that you would turn out to be insecure with new people, I did what I thought would be helpful - taking you places and have positive introductions. Over time I just realized that dealing with strange people just wasn't your thing. You turned out to be a wonderful companion, I love how reliable you are off-leash and how well you listen [most of the time]. I'm sorry if you feel like the third wheel sometimes, but I really enjoy having you around.

Dear Seth,
What do I even say? You came into my life when I tragically lost my cat Pause. When I saw you at the counter I just had a feeling that I wanted to take you home. It wasn't anything in particular that you did, I just wanted to have you. You are an absolute dork and I love that about you. I love how easy going you are, I love how gentle you are when you jump on me [or other people haha]. There's just something about you, you are my heart dog and I am completely sure I will never find another dog like you.

Dear Seppel,
I feel extremely fortunate that our paths crossed. I never thought I would own a Pit Bull. I admired them when I was younger, but quickly realized that the bull headed/terrier type mentality was not for me. I was not sure what I was going to do with you when you came here. That first year was pretty rough when we were learning about each other. I'm so glad you are the way that you are. Because of you I am able to participate in a sport that I have admired since 2010. Although your impulsiveness drives me nuts sometimes, and, you kind of freak me out when other people get you wound up - you are an awesome dog. You have completely turned me on to the Pit Bull breed. I love your big personality and your willingness to overcome hardships. You inspire me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

FHO X-rays: Then and Now

I noticed yesterday that Seppel seemed a little bit off. He still seemed that way this morning as well so I felt him up and his iliopsoas muscle is sore. He's always been really hard to read as far as pain goes. [Well, if you poke him with a needle or cut his nails too short he is pretty clear about that!]

Anyway, it kind of freaked me out so I x-rayed Seppel's hips. It was a good idea anyway because we are 1.5yrs out!

Here is Seppel's x-ray before surgery, it's a crappy cell phone pic, I should email myself the xrays - I just have been to lazy to do so.
The hip on the left [his right] is the bad one.

Xray after Surgery.

Xray Today.
As you can see, everything has healed really well. My boss says his good hip looks great and that he is probably just experiencing muscle soreness. You can see in the x-ray from today that he has gained most of his muscle mass back, although the right leg is still slightly smaller than his left one. I am really happy that his good hip is still good!

I'm going to give him some nsaids for a few days and rest him [to the best of my ability]. The guy just doesn't stop. Here's a little #tbt action, back to his surgery day in June of 2013:

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

He's Impulsive, I'm Impulsive.

I thought I would get a little bit real today and talk a little bit about myself.

I can be a very impulsive person, I'm also really impatient. Generally speaking when I want to do something I want to do it now, and get it done now.

A friend of mine is planning a breeding for September of this year. Her dog is the #1 apbt bitch in the country, #4 in UKC. I contacted her and started to get the ball rolling on placing a deposit.

I talked to my dad about it a little bit, and in not so many words he did not seem nearly as excited as I was about it. He said he would think about it.

I convinced myself that this was a good idea. I had it all thought out in my head, I mean, the puppy would not come home until early 2016, so there is a lot of time to get things done.

Things I thought up:
-Seth and Seppel will be 7yrs old this year, so they are both getting older.
-I can get Seppel's BH this year, as well as his IPO 1, and if we didn't get the IPO 1 we could just get protection titles.
-I could start the puppy next year and start it the right way for IPO and OB.
-One more dog would not be that much work, nor would it cost me that much extra.

It all sounds well and good, but I came home to talk about it more with my dad. He didn't REALLY say no, but the way he went about it, I knew it would not be a good idea to pursue it. He brought up a good point - we need to get two of the rooms in our house organized and go through some of my mom's things before I think about taking on another dog.

Also, after really thinking about it, getting another dog right now would not be fair to the dogs that I have. I have spent the last two years investing time and training into Seppel. If I got another dog for IPO, a lot of the focus on Seppel would be taken away. Let us also not forget Seth and LiLo. Seth could go for another OB title, I have also been working on some obedience with LiLo and it's something that she could potentially do a little bit of. As it is, working full time, especially when the weather is crappy can make it hard to get my dogs out for exercise. I do have the slat mill but nothing compares to a good game of ball. If I added a 4th dog to the mix that be just one more dog that would need exercise and mental stimulation.

I realize now that it was incredibly selfish of me to think that getting a puppy was a good idea. I have three dogs that I can do things with. The biggest kick for me was that it was going to be an awesome breeding, with health testing, and I would probably get a really fabulous dog out of the deal.

This is a great lesson in patience for me. I know that when the time is right, I will get my next dog. I shouldn't be in a rush, Seppel sure isn't slowing down any time soon. It's important to be realistic about your lifestyle, your time, and your goals.

Here are a few pictures from training today:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

1.5yrs after FHO Surgery

I haven't made an FHO update post in a while. I suppose it's because everything has been going well and not much has changed. *knock on wood*

Seppel has been doing GREAT! His FHO leg has not slowed him down or stopped him from doing anything. We still drive down to Salem once a week for Protection training, we joined the Salem Schutzhund club and will start training with them this year in all of the phases of IPO.

Here is a video I took of Seppel doing bitework using my sister's GoPro:

 I still feel like I made the best decision for my dog. A few months ago he was sore on his good hip, but with some rest that went away. His knees are nice and tight, I was warned by someone who felt the FHO on their dog failed, that my dog would be blowing out a knee if we did the surgery. So far so good, everything is holding strong. I do give Seppel an Adequan injection once a month. I believe I have mentioned it before, but I give all of my dogs Adequan and they have all done really well with it. I also give them fish oil and flaxseed oil, I don't know about helping their joints  but it sure keeps their coats nice and shiny!

I wish I had other exciting things to add, but all I can say is that Seppel is doing really well. I only notice a difference when he is running - the FHO leg is a bit out of control, but other than that I hardly remember he had it done. I haven't measured his leg in a while, it is still smaller than his good leg, but you wouldn't be able to tell if I didn't point it out.

Here are a few pictures of Seppel being active that I took yesterday:

This song would be Seppel's theme music :p