The Clicker Mafia

A common reason for dogs to arrive at an animal shelter is their behavior. Unfortunately for dogs their natural behavior is not completely compatible with living in a modern home. Jumping up on people to greet them, mouthing, counter surfing, taking slices of pizza out of your hand as you’re about to eat. Not to even mention house breaking. All of these little things too often land Fido in the hands of an animal shelter. All too often because there are too many dogs and not enough shelter we kill them. If you have even the smallest amount of humanity in you that should bother you.

What to do about it? The answer should be obvious: train the rotten mongrel. As it happens there are a lot of different ways to go about training a dog and I think this is actually a good thing. What is interesting about it is the human behaviors that get wound up in this stuff. What I refer to in the title of this post, “The clicker mafia”, is the way some people act when it comes to the different ways to train.

What I have seen from people is that if you are not using entirely pure ‘positive reinforcement’ training methods you must be some type of racist knuckle dragging homophobic puppy killer. If you so much as own a pinch collar, let alone a choke chain you’re going straight to hell. Out of a small sense of decorum I’ll not even touch shock collars.

In one case a trainer is working with a dog that has some socialization issues. He commits the sin of not doing it the way the clicker mafia believe he should so the entire pack proceeds to attack. A little digging reveals that they really are like a mafia (Beyond Cesar Millan). Here’s the thing: while they may have a point somewhere and in some fashion their troll like attacks are not helpful or beneficial to anyone. In fact they mostly succeed in turning people off of dog training all together.

Watching what goes on with dogs (and cats too) and having a small piece of insight to the problems make this type of internet trolling that much more frustrating. This guy was taking the time to show and explain what he is doing and his reasons for doing it that way. But because the new hipster training method says something else these people decide he must be drowned.

I do own a pinch collar but I don’t use it. Why not? Initially because I just didn’t like it and I had just started learning positive training stuff and it said not to bother with one. Over the past year I’ve learned a lot more. Along the way I learned how and when to use a pinch collar. There in is the problem in my opinion. If you’re first teaching a dog some new behavior you don’t need a pinch collar. A toy, some treats, or just praise will get the job done really well and in the process the relationship with your dog will grow stronger. Once the dog knows what to do most of the time in most situations that is where a pinch collar might be used. However, your ultimate goal in training your dog should guide that decision. My dogs are companions that go hiking and get taken places with me. They are not guard dogs, they don’t compete in anything. They’re my fur kids. I don’t need 100% obedience from them 100% of the time. So no need for pinch collar or any other aversive training aids. If you can actually get your dogs to the point that you can walk them through your neighborhood off leash, encountering other people and dogs without incident and want to go even further (no idea where you go from here – beyond camping) then rock on. But for 99.9999% of the population simple positive training techniques will take care of you.

There are situations, dogs and people who this may not work for. Other training techniques are valid. From my perspective if that trainer can keep the dog out of a shelter so that it can live a long happy life with its family – I honestly don’t care. But from what the clicker mafia writes and their behavior I’m thinking they’d prefer to see the animal euthanized.

 

 

Another one off

Today we sent Shiloh off to New York. It was not easy to do.

Shiloh is a border collie mix and has such a great personality. She got along great with my pack and did ok with the cats.

One aspect I hate about this is not knowing the background of these dogs. I have no idea how she ended up in a shelter. When I got her from Love On Wheels she was a frightened little dog. I got her home and carefully introduced her to my pack. Imagine being a little 20 pound puppy having 3 big German Shepherds crowd around you. Yeah, not intermediating at all. Luckily my dogs have gotten used to our guests so they roll with it pretty well, but I still supervise their interactions pretty carefully. Anyway, the first few days she was a little withdrawn, but it didn’t take her long to move in and let her personality show. She went from frightened to comfortable to confident over the few weeks I got to have her.

Initially she didn’t really play with toys, but over the past two weeks she started copying Lola by picking up tennis balls and running around the yard with them in her mouth. She even started playing tug with me. The fact that she will play tug in my opinion indicates that she’ll be really easy to train. Hopefully her forever family will take full advantage of that eagerness.

Rosie (my Red & Black Shepherd) tend to play the role of mother to our fosters. I’ve talked about Rosie before and she continues to be such a great find. I feel sorry for the family that returned her (but they can’t have her back now), had they listened to me and had more patience they would have scored such a huge win. Rosie has mothered every foster that has come in to this house. It’s always fun and heart warming to watch her interactions with them.

And yeah – make backyard is destroyed. We don’t have grass anymore, just mud. Something about having a 90lbs turbo charged puppy just spells doom for grass. I’m planning to redo the yard to try and save it. The biggest problem is that Kaiser, besides tearing up the grass likes to play in mud puddles and the whole pack tracks dirt in to the house so we have to constantly sweep and mop the floors.

One small issue I have is that I’m very permissive as a handler. The dogs get away with bloody murder. No wonder they love me so much. Above we see what happens when somebody leaves their poster project stuff out. Shiloh got ahold of a Crayola marker and she had sooo much fun.

We’re going to miss that little turd burglar. She definitely earned the title with some of her little stunts. Whoever is smart enough to adopt her will bring so much love in their house they won’t understand how they got along without her (just keep the markers out of reach, and shoes, stuffed animals and well – keep an eye on her).

We’re going to take a week or two off but we’ll be fostering another dog soon. Our intention is to foster a Shepherd from DFW German Shepherd Rescue where my pack comes from. There are so many needing rescue it’s heart breaking, but the truth is there are dogs of all breeds needing rescue.

Still going

So this blog has been dead for a bit. I’ve been busy. So what happened?

Rosie ended up being returned by the family that adopted her. They took her in on Friday and I picked her up on Monday. They basically rented her for the weekend. The head smacker was that she did everything I said she would. I told them she wasn’t really crate trained, she tore up the bedding in the crate the put her in. I told them she didn’t really know how to walk on a leash, I compared it to walking Taz, Dad tried walking her and said she was all over the place. On and on. Truth is: I was delighted to pick her up. We took her to another adoption event and brought her home along with another German Shepherd Lola. We ended up adopting both! So now I have 3 German Shepherds in the house.

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Unfortunately over the summer one of our Boxers died, his name was Hawk. He had a heart attack and died. Carrying his body to the car to take him to the vet broke my heart. We loved him a lot and he is missed everyday. Hawk was a great dog, always happy and eager to be with us.

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We have started fostering again. However: no more foster failures. We won’t be adopting any more dogs. One of the groups we foster for is called Love On Wheels. They take dogs from Shelters around North Texas and send them to New York where they get adopted. It’s actually amazing how fast the dogs get adopted. So far we have sent 3 dogs to New York and all of them were adopted within a week of arrival. In two cases they were adopted the day after arrival! Two of the families have stayed in touch with us through FaceBook. It’s cool seeing our fosters in their new lives.

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Currently we are on our 4th foster. He name is Shiloh. I have no idea what breed she is but I think there is some Border Collie in her. She’s a sweet tiny girl but she’s able to hold her own again my miscreant German Shepherds. Her favorite thing to do though is snuggle people.

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We’ve also agreed to take in another German Shepherd from DFW German Shepherd Rescue. I don’t know which dog we’ll get and I’m sure we’re in for a lot of fun. Like most things I get involved in: I have no idea what I was thinking when I decided to do this.