Friday, July 22, 2011

The Family's Foster

Peeps on her last night here
I know I keep promising to be more committed to this blog but life gets in the way with its (mis)adventures and responsibilities, so it makes it challenging to post regularly. But I will make it a point to upload an entry a few times a week.

Peeps is no longer under our care. We fostered her for just over a month before we rehomed her at a wonderful farm in Jamul that was recommended by a dear friend. It is a huge property over-looking the valley, nestled within mountains. There is a wonderful chicken hut with a covered run so Peeps can be a ranch chicken without fear of predators. There are horses, ducks, donkeys, dogs and fruit trees all around. It is beautiful and serene, where animals come first.

It is owned by a lovely lady, Anita Worthington, and her husband (whom we didn't meet) who was on 'Whale Wars'. People with huge, sincere hearts. We hit it off immediately, and I knew Peeps has found the perfect home. In fact, all sadness, uncertainty and reservation melted the minute we pulled onto the property.

I have not seen Peeps since we dropped her off at her new permanent home two months ago, and I think a re-visit is due soon to reconnect with Peeps and for a good photo opportunity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Part Deux

So I previously had included the complete list of commands that Janka understands as well as my personal philosophy on how I train my own dog in the last entry. But it was such a long post, I decided to break it up and create a new entry just for Janka's vocabulary and her training.

I teach new commands using positive reinforcement and adopt appropriate corrections when necessary. I use different training equipment, from a soft tool (flat collar) to a training aid that allows for instant, well-executed correction (e-collar). I make it a point to rotate them, with the addition of using the reward system to reinforce a desired behavior. It takes more work, but I do not believe in sticking to a specific method all the time. The importance is consistency, variation and expecting the same results on all platforms. Besides, it makes it more stimulating and enjoyable for me and Janka.

I also believe in using the lowest resistance (starting with a flat or martingale) that achieves the desired results before moving onto something stronger, depending on the dog's personality and soft/hardness. If one chooses to use an e-collar, proper handling, understanding and knowledge of how it works is a MUST. I did not jump to an e-collar right away. I held off till I tried all other methods of corrections to encourage her to toe the line, and I certainly would not use that to teach a puppy or a new command. The e-collar's function, in my opinion, is to correct an undesirable behavior. Nothing else.

Would I do the same over with my next dog? No. Because we all learn from experience, and I do not expect my next German Shepherd to be an exact clone of Janka. Different strokes for different folks, it is all about custom-fitting to the dog's personality.

Janka's Commands:
*sitz (long)
*platz (long)
*steh (long)
*halt (long)
*place (long)
*rats (bark on command)
*up (jump with all 4 legs off the ground)
*over (jump over obstacles)
*free now
*through (going through the legs)
*watch me

(I am not a trainer. I am not giving advice of any kind. I am merely talking about my own experience with my German Shepherd.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Understanding the Misunderstood

Gentle Janka with Peeps
So much for being vicious and dangerous, eh? Please end BSL!