Jean Donaldson

After reading Ian Dunbar’s book, I decided to read The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

In her book, Donaldson writes about the psychology surrounding common dog behaviours and informs readers about how things we do must look from the dog’s point of view.

I both liked and disliked this book. On one side, I think Donaldson did a really good job at explaining the positive reinforcement model of dog training and not only told readers how to do things, but why it needed to be done. On the other hand, I really disliked the way she wrote as if every dog owner who isn’t a professional is stupid. I found her writing style to be a little cold.

After reading this book, I really began to understand where a former dog trainer I worked with got her training style and opinions regarding dog owners and how dogs should be treated and trained.

It’s kind of hard to explain my thoughts regarding Donaldson’s training style, it’s almost as though to her, a dog should not just be allowed to be a dog, or part of the family. I felt as though she believes that if training is not happening then the dog should be crated or something like that. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I explained things wrong, but it’s sort of what I got out of the book and what I witnessed working with the trainer whom I feel mirrors her work according to the word of Jean Donaldson.

Mantracker Rogue?

Maybe not quite…

Yesterday Huib and I took Rogue to a tracking session put on by Search & Rescue Dogs Ontario.

As part of their fundraising, SAR Dogs Ontario offers tracking training once a month to the public. The sessions are held at Bronte Creek Provincial Park and cost $50 for about two and a half hours of instruction.

Saturday was our first opportunity to attend, so we got our stuff ready and set out for Oakville.

There were probably more than 15 dogs in attendance, not including the ones that belonged to the instructors.

at 8:30am, we were split into three groups, according to our level of experience. Since it was our first lesson, we were in level one. there were about 6 dogs, including Rogue. there was a Beagle, a Bloodhound, 2 Shepherds and a Border Collie in our group – the Bloodhound had attended two other times, so her and her owner were quickly moved on to the next level. It is almost as though Bloodhounds are born knowing how to track, lol!

Our instructor, Dave Walker, asked us to all put our dogs into our vehicles and follow him to a field. We were then instructed on how to lay a short track.

First we were directed to shuffle our feet around in a horizontal line, smooching down the grass and leaving our scent. We were then instructed to put a flag to the left and lay several treats in the grass to mark the spot. After that, we walked about 50 feet, shuffling our feet and laying a few treats every couple feet to mark the track. At the end, we covered a toy and some treats with grass and stuck another flag in the ground.

Once we had all retrieved our dogs, we took turns having them follow the track we had laid.

When it was Rogue’s turn, Dave instructed us to keep her leash attached to her collar and then put the leash under her right leg, which would force her head downward, and then I was to hold the leash and follow her pull as Huib wiggled his fingers in front of her nose and encouraged her to follow the track we had laid for her. She did really well with her first and final track, but she was revved up and extremely excited during the second and third runs, so she was a little less precise.

Each time the dogs finished following a track, we were instructed to create another one for them in a different part of the field.

At the end of the session we all sat in the shade while Dave talked about what we had learned and recommended things to work on to each of the teams.

We weren’t too surprised when he suggested we work on slowing and calming down Rogue, lol!

Huib said he enjoyed the lesson and said he’d be willing to practice with me a few times a week and attend the July session.

Ian Dunbar

In preparation for our new addition, I have downloaded some dog training books in an effort to learn more about positive reinforcement training and also to learn about other training methods.

I totally recommend Sue Ailsby and plan to continue using her levels program to train the dogs, but it never hurts to add some extra tools to the dog training toolbox, right?

I just finished reading Ian Dunbar’s How To Teach A new Dog Old Tricks. I’ve wanted to read this book for years, but for one reason or another, I never had an opportunity until now.

It was really well written. I love the way he writes it as if from the dog’s perspective. There were some things Dunbar recommended, like repeating cues until the puppy obeys, that I don’t really agree with, but then there were other things he suggested, like making sure your cues make sense, that I found quite useful.

Dunbar suggests that when a puppy has an accident and the owner witnesses the discretion, that instead of saying “Puppy…NO…you shouldn’t have done that, let’s go outside”, that you skip the no and the conversation, and just say “Outside” in a firm voice, as you pick the puppy out and carry it outdoors.

I think this recommendation makes a lot of sense. I think that we have a tendency to treat our dogs like children, which is not a bad thing most of the time, and forget that their attention span and vocabulary is far less advanced than the capabilities of humans.

Before we pick up our little golden girl, I am going to sit down with Huib and make a mental list of the cues we want to use with her, so hopefully we will avoid some of the awkward stumbling we tend to do in the first year of training.