Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Senior Dog

I was thinking today, while playing ball with the dogs, that I wanted to blog about keeping my senior dog fit.

My dog LiLo will be 10-years-old this month. While I don't consider her really 'old' yet, she is considered a senior dog.

With LiLo, I include her in all of the activities that I do with my other dogs. She plays ball, she chases the flirt pole, and she runs on the slat mill. She also has tagged along on several 4-5 mile bike rides and she keeps the pace along with the boys.

My other dog, Sophie, lived to be 14 years old. While she was never overweight, I did not do a good job of keeping her fit. The last few years of her life I tried to take her biking and it was too much for her. I really didn't have a 'plan' back then and I want to do things completely different with LiLo.

LiLo has hip dysplasia - I've mentioned it in previous posts. Because her hips are crappy it is even more important that she stays fit and in shape. I have her on adequan once a month and she gets flaxseed oil and fish oil daily. I keep her slightly underweight and I give her NSAIDs when she over-does it on the exercise. I do make some small exceptions for LiLo when exercising. I do not throw the ball for her until she is so tired she doesn't bring it back. I do not play flirt pole until she is dead tired. I do not make her run on the slat mill for too long either. I do allow her to get moderately tired when we play, but I try to gauge how she is feeling because I do not want her to be overly sore later.

I plan to keep  playing ball and doing active things with LiLo until she tells me she can't or she doesn't want to anymore.

I think it's really important to keep your dog active into old age, as long as they are physically able to be. Much like human people, I think it makes for a better life for them. As LiLo ages, she may start to slow down and I will alter the things that we do to accommodate that. However, for now at this time, she seems to be keeping up with everything I ask her to do.

Here are some pictures I took of her yesterday:

I think she looks really good for her age :D

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Oh Seppel

On our way to training this morning I couldn't help but think to myself that I can't believe Seppel and I are where we are at now.

When Seppel first arrived I had no idea what I would be doing with him, if anything. Before being exposed to IPO, I was very frustrated with him. He's very different from Seth. Seth picks things up quickly, when I have taught him things it takes little effort and within the first session he usually has some idea of what I am asking. With Seppel he was completely different and much less focused.

It's amazing to me now what I can do with him. I never thought I would ever be comfortable with the idea of him being off-leash. Don't get me wrong, I do not trust him in extremely exciting situations and when he is off-leash I have to be especially vigilant. However, I am able to have him off-leash and trust him mostly to listen to me and to not take off. In a trial setting I don't worry at all, he has no interest in visiting with other dogs and can stay pretty well focused working around them.

It's just really kind of amazing to me. We are still hoping to go for the BH in June. I applied for a scorebook and it should be here in May hopefully. I've been watching a lot of videos and I think we will be okay. The biggest thing for me is remembering the pattern and keeping calm.

We have been going to club on Saturdays. It sucks because it isn't that organized but one of the members has been making a huge effort to help me and one of the other new members. I learned more about tracking and track laying last Saturday. Seppel is doing really well tracking, I am trying to make longer tracks [200 paces] and putting in a few turns and a couple of articles for him to find. He is still not 100% clear on article indication, but we are getting there. I don't know that we will even attempt an IPO1 this year [if he gets his BH]. But I think without a doubt we will be ready next year.

In May I am also going on vacation and will be boarding Seppel with my trainer. I am kind of nervous about it, only because I feel bad that I have to leave him - but I know he will have a good time and I know he will be well taken care of while I am gone. I chose to board him because he has to be crated when no one is home and two weeks is a long time to spend most of the time locked up in a crate. Even though Seth and LiLo will be in the house, they at least can move around. I also think it will be easier on my friend who will be caring for them to just have to deal with them and the cat.

I feel extremely lucky that I found such an awesome person to train with, who will also let me board my dog with them so I know he will be well taken care of. Even though it's hard [omg it's the furmom coming out!], I know that he will be in very good hands.

And speaking of June...

In June it will be TWO years since Seppel's FHO surgery!!!!! I'll need to make a new video, I am so pleased with how successful Seppel's recovery has been.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Training: What we are working on.

We are still going to training every Wednesday, it's hard to believe in August we will have been going to Pet Village for three years!!!!

Since we have been at this for a while, Seppel knows how to do the majority of the exercises in the IPO Protection phases 1-3. It's a good and a bad thing. It's great in that we can do each exercise fairly quickly, but it's a bad thing because there isn't a lot to work on. I have been told it is stupid that I drive an hour to show up for training that sometimes only lasts 15-20 minutes. I don't care. When my dog is doing well there is no reason to work for an hour. We have a great time when we go and it is completely worth it to me whether we work for an hour or for only 15 minutes.

Anyway, last week Ryan and I started talking about other things we could work on to keep things fun. I told him I really wanted to work on Seppel's heeling, just to fine tune things and also get better attention from him. Ryan suggested doing building searches [k9 type work], and also teaching Seppel to muzzle fight.

Here is an example of muzzle fighting:

I bought Seppel a baskerville muzzle. As far as basket muzzles go they fit a lot better than the wire ones and appear to be far more comfortable. It was also reasonably priced, I paid $20 for it. I got it last Friday. Seppel already knew how to put his face into the muzzle courtesy of his previous owner. I bought a can of squeeze cheese which helps deliver a speedy reward when he is wearing it. I plan to try to get video of him learning that he can do things with the muzzle on. It's kind of like the first time you put a collar on a puppy - they don't like it initially, but they get over it when they realize they can still do things.

In June there is a trial down in Salem, our goal is to try to get Seppel his BH. I plan to work on the obedience and pattern as much as I can so we can hopefully be successful. Last Saturday at club he broke his down stay to try to catch a bug. Haha.

Today Seppel got to try the building search! First Ryan amped him up and then let him come at him. He then let Seppel watch him "hide". The third time he hid while Seppel was out of sight. It was pretty hilarious because Seppel was using his eyes instead of his nose. I swear he looked in Ryan's direction three times before he found him. That was also after Ryan made some noise. It will be fun to see him progress with this - it's just another fun thing we can add to his resume and he thoroughly seemed to enjoy it, even when it took him a bit to find Ryan.

We aren't going to training next Wednesday so I'll have a week to work with him more on wearing the muzzle, and to practice some obedience. I also want to track him a couple of times before we go to club. We were told he can graduate to a 12ft line, I also want to work on articles with him more.

I am really excited for this summer and I hope he can get his BH!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Owning a stable Pit Bull.

A very interesting situation came up at work the other day. I won't get too specific but someone brought in an extremely fearful pit bull type dog. The dog's breed is actually unknown because the dog was a rescue, but the dog looks to be some type of a "pit thing". Anyway, this dog was fearful but all fight - no flight whatsoever. The dog had no qualms about lunging and barking at the vet who was simply standing nearby.

What made this situation more painful is that this dog's owner just sat there coddling the dog. She did not give the dog any tools to deal with this situation. It was very obvious that she was completely clueless that the dog's behavior was not okay, that it was abnormal. The dog has to be sedated to be worked with. This owner has done this dog a huge disservice because she has not sought out a trainer or a behaviorist. While this problem cannot be fixed, it could be managed much better. You cannot change this dog's personality, but you can help give them tools to better deal with "scary" situations.

When the gal was paying her bill I brought Seppel out to give him some treats. I won't lie, I really wanted to show what a stable [semi-stable? :p] pit bull type dog looks like. She said hi to Seppel and he went right up to her happily for some attention.

I don't think she really understands just how much of a liability her dog is. I don't think she understands that her dog's behavior is completely abnormal for ANY dog, but is very atypical for a pit bull type dog.

It made me feel really great that I could bring my own dog out to meet a new person and feel confident that he would be polite and friendly. It makes me feel proud that we can go out in public and represent the breed in a positive way.

To quote Tom Garner:
"Ever wonder why so many of us are drawn to and build our lives around the pit bull? There are a number of reasons why people gravitate to these animals. My list would certainly include; A) an appreciation of their physical/ athletic excellence, B) their unrivaled capacity for unconditional love of humans, and C) the pit bull’s unparalleled gameness, i.e., "the willingness to self-sacrifice in order to achieve an objective." 

I absolutely agree with and believe that the above best describes why I love this breed. I know I am extremely lucky that Seppel was raised in a decent home before I got him. I feel very fortunate that he has turned out to be a wonderful dog and I thoroughly appreciate having a stable pit bull type dog in my life.

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.