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Alfreda

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About Alfreda

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    Rocky Mnts
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    BCs, herding, animal cognition, farm & garden
  1. this is a valid point so: For the Record: Anyone who might be reading this thread and thinking of letting their dog chase, worry, or “work” someone else’s livestock: DON’T DO IT! Get permission or buy your own, and even then, be wise and careful because as Sue’s excellent stories illustrate, accidents can happen and livestock can do a lot of harm to a dog (and vice versa) not to mention people. o.k. have at it ! The sad thing is, in the big picture, we're really all on the same side: we all love and care for the dogs, we all care about and respect livestock (I hope), and we all dislike having our stories or our intentions misinterpreted!!!
  2. Sue, Thanks for your interesting stories and for your good intentions. No. Bluntness is not the problem. Bluntness is good! So, I will be blunt too: The problem is that both you and Donald are mistaken in your presumptions. Without knowing me, or my history, Donald misread my posts and/or misunderstood the situation I was trying to describe. So, the “advice,” while generally sound, is very poorly targeted. Let’s take a look at the story you’ve shared about your husband: he deliberately sent a dog out to work strange cows in order to show-off. As you say, the injured dog suffered because of the human’s ego and poor judgment. My little story is exactly the opposite. I did NOT send my dog out to work cattle. I was on a public trail, I had leashed him and he broke loose. I called him back and he came. In the intervening seconds as I stood the bike up, and assessed the situation, I saw my dog moving them off trail and bunching them up. As I said, I called him off and he came. So, my sincere respect to you Sue, and your superior knowledge of cattle, but I did NOT use poor judgment. Nor was I showing off. Nor was I ignorant about cows (generally) or laws. Finally, for 5 generations before me, my extended family had a cattle ranch, so I actually grew up with respect for livestock, landscape, private property, public lands, and sadly, an awareness that the world is full of irate people who carry guns. Here in the mountain west there are horrible stories all the time: a recent court case in eastern OR focused on 2 hunters on USFS land who shot to death 2 LGDs while they were minding their 1000-ewe flock with a Peruvian shepherd. A year or 2 ago a hunter on USFS land outside of Missoula shot 2 out 3 pet huskies. They were running out in front of their owner who was X-country skiing. The hunter said he thought they were wolves. In the local open space I have frequented for the last 15 yrs with permitted off-leash dogs, I have witnessed men harassing cows, out in the field, well off the trail. They were rushing them and shouting so they could get a reaction and take selfies. So yes, the world is full of idiots with no respect, poor judgment, armed with cameras, and guns. Just as the internet is full of people jumping to erroneous conclusions!
  3. Good grief, that kind of backfired. Apparently Donald thinks I'm a total idiot. As a generally responsible adult, and dog owner, I am well aware of, not only my local public open space rules, but state laws, and in general livestock etiquette. I had no intention of "working" anyone else's stock without permission! This is multi-use public open space. Cows are there seasonally on open space grazing leases. Many bikers would just blast toward a calf in the middle of the trail. I got off my bike and leashed my dog. I walked forward and stopped and waited. There was no way to bush whack around the cow with the bike. What happened next was accidental. If a ranger had seen it, I suppose I could have gotten a ticket. I want to assure you also, that Otto was not chasing or harrassing. He was not barking or gripping. He moved the one off to the side and tucked it in with some others up against a fence, all very calmly. I would say they respected him. I am very sorry I shared this now. It wasn't my intention to highjack Maralynn's thread about Kolt. To me it was an example of how, we might tend to under estimate our dogs, and the degree to which given a context, they can infer what needs to be done and do it. I thought that was also the spirit in which Maralynn was so pleasantly surprised by Kolt.
  4. WTG Kolt! That is so cool! ....maybe you can work sheep at your folks' more often? After a rough start with a "professional" trainer in a pressurized round pen with 3 flighty sheep, I've had Otto on herding hiatus, ahem, to "mature." But one day, we were on an open space bike-run, and some cow-calf pairs were grazing there. Some of those calves were huge (yearlings?) Anyway, one giant stood across the center of the trail. I dismounted, leashed Otto, and walked slowly forward. Calf: no budge. I stopped. Otto yanked the leash out of my hand, causing me to drop the bike, and before I had time to right it and stand up, he had moved the calf off the trail, pushed it out into the field, and tucked it in, along with a few of the other pairs, up against a fence line. He held them for a moment. I recalled him and he came right back. Looking at me like: "job done. let's go." I regret very much his poor start in the round pen, because I think it made absolutely no sense to him. This situation made perfect sense to him.
  5. Assuming this is not merely helicoptering... my guy gets bad cracks (that have torn off in chunks) but only on his carpal pads-- It usually seems related to seasons when his pads get wet/dry/wet/dry... Last year my vet suggested trying tea leaves --seriously. When applied directly, the tannins will gently toughen up the pads. Open up a damp (black) tea bag, place it on the pad(s) for a few minutes 2Xs/day. Wrap with saran wrap to hold them in place. The wet leaves need to be applied directly, not just the bag ...If nothing else, it makes for a good training exercise ;-) Just be sure NOT to let your dog ingest the tea leaves!!!) BTW, It did seem to help... :-) There's also a product called "Toughen-Up" sold by Vickie Close (Handhills Border Collies) CDA, ID- that many recommend, although I haven't used it myself.
  6. Beautiful tribute to a great dog and partnership! sorry for your loss.
  7. Haha! love this! Which reminds me of an aspect of BODY Language that's also interesting in this context of "intrinsic vs extrinsic": it goes both ways. Body language reflects an inner (possibly unconscious) state, but also, it can apparently be used intentionally on the "outside" to alter an inner state. In the TED talk below, Amy Cuddy presents her research on assertive body language. People who might lack (inner) confidence can apparently build that capacity by intentionally adopting more confident body postures. Doing so may start out as a mere "act,” but gradually the outward posture begins to change the inner state. This is something that can be measured internally (hormones), as well as outwardly, perception of others. (See TED talk by Amy Cuddy) https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en
  8. Well, I don't know about harsh vs helpful, but I can say that there are places where sound carries differently and our dogs' hearing is usually way more sensitive than ours anyway. There are places I've been with my dog, who is generally *not* jumpy, where I notice that his body language is verging on skittish for no discernible reason. Sometimes, if I stop to listen carefully, I can make out sharp, shot-like sounds from a construction zone (?) on the other side of the valley from where we are... or a deep, ominous machine-like hum.... There is a hike I've taken Otto on, that goes up onto a wide open mesa. Once as we came up one side, I suddenly heard a high-whiny, swarming bee sound. Otto heard it first, cowered and started to run the other way -back toward the car. A few seconds later up comes this drone from the other side of the hill. I was torn between getting out my light saber and flipping it off.
  9. Sending you and Digger mucho mojo! It's always scary when surgery might be involved, but I am hoping all will be well. Terriers are awesome, and yours sounds like a very special, and beloved character!
  10. Bill, I don't think you, or anyone should feel "bad" about using treats at all!! As some of the most experienced folks have been suggesting, we're talking about nuances here to some extent. Treats are a form of reward that's easy and useful. Easy for beginning trainers to deliver. Useful in many situations as Kristine describes. They're also very useful for teaching brand new behaviors or sequences, and for generalizing those skills to more complicated, distracting situations. The downside- is when people don't fade treats out for behaviors once they're learned, behaviors that have become "easy." Continuing to treat those becomes superfluous. External rewards also might be superfluous, or even destructive- *IF the behavior itself is extremely rewarding in and of itself. My dog loves to run with me on the bike- I don't treat for that- he loves it! I did train staying in "heel" and "side" on command when biking, that is more demanding, and curbs his enjoyment for a bit. Calling a dog away from a live squirrel we are competing against a very internally (for many dogs) rewarding alternative. Taking a BC out to work sheep- we're going towards something inherently REWARDING!!!! So, the use of food and/or toy rewards to teach brand new, maybe non-instinctual, unpleasant, or boring (mechanical) tasks is one excellent use of food (in my mind). But once behavior is learned and established, randomize, and fade them out. The use of food to "counter-condition" fear-based behaviors is (to me) in another category. In that case you're not so much just rewarding a superficial behavior- You are working to transform a negative emotional association into a calmer, more positive one. ("classical conditioning"). The pros can correct me, but in LAT- the way I see it, is that it works on both levels. The dog looks at the trigger, then, in anticipation of a treat looks away to get the food. On the superficial level, the dog is rewarded for looking away from what it fears and for disengaging its attention. On the deeper level, the dog is building a more positive emotional reaction to seeing the other dog at that tolerable (below threshold) distance. Does that make sense? To me, the interesting challenge is to be aware *when* and under what circumstances will I use external rewards? When will I fade them out? When will I make the most of those activities, behaviors that are inherently rewarding to the dog? And when, if I use too much external reward, might I be in danger of harming the inherent reward (maybe never with some dogs). Personally, I enjoy some aspects of my work: working with kids: YES!, paperwork: NO. If I didn't need the salary, which part to you think I'd do for free --just for the joy and challenge of it? OTOH, I can also recall times when, as a kid in the midst of coloring say, a beautiful universe full of mermaids and star-trees, a teacher who gave me evaluative praise - made me feel contaminated. She had inserted herself into my creative process in a way that interrupted (for a moment) my deep enjoyment of it. :-)
  11. Great comments! I just wanted to ask about praise- Is it intrinsic or extrinsic? Fenzi seems to see praise as more of an "intrinsic" (at least compared to food); because praise is related to the dog's internal drive to please... I guess I had been thinking of praise as an external form of feedback/reward...? Which is it? We have carrots and sticks that are clearly external: food/toys & leash jerks/shocks. Yet they too are connected to internal drives: hunger, pleasure, play verses the desire to feel safe, comfortable, avoid pain. So what about when we say "good dog" vs "bad dog" "yes" vs "no"?
  12. I'm always so dismayed that people would even think of using an e-collar to train anything. But I do see some- usually hunting breeds-- wearing them in open space... I think this is a cultural thing (among the people who buy those breeds of dogs I mean... Although there is a school nearby for positive gun dogs...) By far the majority of dogs (all sorts of breeds) who are out hiking under "voice & sight" control criteria in open space in my area are trained using positive methods. Here is a link that contains additional resources on how to train a reliable recall: http://denisefenzipetdogs.com/2015/09/21/recall-training/
  13. http://denisefenzi.com/?s=intrinsic+motivation This link might work better
  14. In several of our super broad discussions ("Corrections" and "Praise") on this forum, Mr. McCaig and others have expressed concerns about a reliance on external rewards: that it might reduce or undermine the internal motivation(s) of a dog. This interesting question comes up here and on other dog training forums -sometimes there are references to (human) studies, and sometimes it is just a belief that children/dogs should not be "coddled," or over-praised, or that dogs and children need negative consequences and boundaries. Some studies (in human education) for example, do suggest that the approach of "ignore the bad, reward the good" might have some undesirable consequences, and that how and when praise is used can make a difference. If you look into the topic of "Intrinsic vs Extrinsic" motivation one quickly finds a multitude of books and studies- mostly in humans- from fields ranging from pyschology, education, to business and economics. So, I thought I'd bring it up as a topic. So often our discussions get caught up in the bi-polar framework of "correction" vs all R+ training. Yet BOTH of these are extrinsic consequences for behavior. Is there a danger in relying so much on externals? How do we go about nurturing the internal drives and strengths we value? Such as: Problem-solving, persistence, generosity, humility, grit, teamwork, confidence? To get things going: here's a link below to a blog by Denise Fenzi on the subject: file://localhost/Users/rebeccarumsey/Downloads/Internal%20Motivation%20%E2%80%93%20do%20we%20value%20it%3F%20%7C%20Denise%20Fenzi.html
  15. "...These dogs are Nothing short of AMAZING. What makes a Border Collie a Border Collie - I believe it is their ability to reason and think on their feet, they figure out way more than I could ever teach them." Denise, those are some long, tough days. Thank you for those descriptions of your wonderful, hard-working and intuitve dogs! I love to hear such examples of problem-solving and teamwork!
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