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About Hooper2

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  1. Yes, I'm referring to the pellets made to be burned in stoves. Just so I don't build up your hopes too much, I only overwinter a two or three ducks, and I don't put tons of water out for them in the winter. But still. Stove pellets are by far the most convenient thing I've found for soaking up mud. They are just very fine saw dust, but compressed into handy little 40 lb bags that are available everywhere and are about 7 times denser than the same weight of baled sawdust. And they aren't nearly as messy as sawdust. I think some cedar wood shavings could be toxic, but lots of different trees are called cedars, so that may account for why there are conflicting reports about cedar toxicity. But you can get stove pellets that are strictly hardwood which would eliminate cedar. I wouldn't worry about fungi on wood pellets. The reports I've seen of Aspergillus contaminating wood chips were done on large storage piles of composting chips. A thin layer of muddy sawdust doesn't provide anything like the same temperature, moisture or nutrient conditions that compost piles do. Keep your stored pellets dry (duh!), and don't apply a deeper layer of pellets than you actually need to your mud pits.
  2. I also recommend using wood pellets instead of chips. As they soak up water they will disintegrate into sawdust, which puppies are far less likely to chew on. Look for pellets made from hardwoods, with no added glues. You don't have to use any special type of "bedding pellet" or pellet designed to be kitty litter. Those are just the waste crumbles left over from making stove pellets, and in the spirit of capitalism, cost even more than the stove pellets do, because, why not? Put down WAY less pellets than you think you will need. WAY less. A 50 lb sack will last half the winter for my duck pen, and ducks are seriously messy. The first time you try them, dump maybe a quart container worth into a particularly sloppy area, and wait a few hours to see how much the pellets have broken down and absorbed. That will give you an idea of how much you need to put down in your entire yard.
  3. This is a long shot but if you live somewhere where there is a vet optometrist within driving distance you might consider having her eyes checked. Some vision problems are more obvious at night. Not everything you describe is related to darkness, but I'm thinking about the basement stairs possibly being less well lit, and her literally not being able to see the light at the end of a longer tunnel in a location where she's not navigated a tunnel that long before. Plus, of course the fact that her issues seem more intense at night. Will she do the stairs to and from your bedroom if you really dim the lights? Could just be a fear period as D'Elle suggested, but those don't usually last for months. If you think a vision problem could be a possibility, it really is worth seeking out a vet optometrist. General practice vets just don't have the specialized training to detect many possible vision problems.
  4. One important way to keep your dog's teeth clean is to choose the right parents. I've had as many as five dogs at one time, all fed the same thing, all drinking the same water, and they ran the gamut from consistently nice white shiny teeth to chronically brown teeth, and it wasn't entirely age-related. I used to give my dogs raw knuckle bones and nylabones to chew, and I think both those things helped clean teeth. But after one $1700 bill for a doggie root canal, and another $700 for an extraction of a slab fracture on a different dog, and I decided no more large bones. My dental vet told me if it's too hard to dent with your finger nail, it's a hazard for cracking teeth. They still get raw turkey necks occasionally, but not often enough to keep the teeth clean. I tried the stuff you add to drinking water briefly, but it's expensive and I was ending up pouring half of it down the drain whenever I freshened the water bowl, so I didn't continue using it long enough to tell whether it helped. I now have one dog whose teeth were already turning brown by the time he was a year old (while my 13 year old's teeth stayed nice and clean with maybe a weekly tooth brushing). So I've upped my tooth brushing to daily, and it definitely makes a difference. It was kind of a pain at first, but really it only takes about 2 minutes, and it's now just as much a part of the daily routine as feeding and cleaning food and water bowls. On the advice of a breeder of papillons, a breed notorious for terrible teeth, I've also started adding a good sized splash of decaf green tea to their food every day. There is a bit of evidence that green tea may affect the growth of mouth microbes, although I'm skeptical that the nano second that the liquid is in the dog's mouth before it is gulped down can really make a difference. But, her dogs do have lovely clean teeth, green tea is cheap, and so I put it in the category of "can't hurt, might help".
  5. I agree with both Riika and GL. A dog with good working instinct certainly enjoys getting to act on those instincts, but I don't believe they then spend their days thinking "Damn, I wish I could do that again". Of course they need some sort of mental and physical stimulation and lots of interaction with you on a regular basis, but it doesn't have to work stock, even if they are talented at it. On the other hand, if you and your dog enjoy it, and you can do it in a manner that doesn't unduly stress the livestock just for the sake of you and your dog's entertainment, then take advantage of the opportunities you have. If your dog likes herding chickens, can you convince your parents that no hobby farm is complete without a flock of a half dozen ducks? Ducks flock together more readily than chickens, and can be a lot of fun to work dogs on if you and your dog learn to do it properly.
  6. Specifically in regard to your question 1) about whether barking is something you can work on, my answer is YES! Sure dogs bark, and barking is being part of being a dog. Dogs also pee and poop and chew and mouth things and roll in smelly stuff and jump on people and chase things. Those things are all part of being a dog, but we teach the dog when and where those things are appropriate, and when and where they are not. The same principle applies to barking. You've gotten good advice above on applying the same excellent training you've done individually to now extending that to teaching Kev that the rules apply when their are two humans along as well as when there is just one. But you should absolutely feel that teaching Kev to control his desire to bark is every bit as reasonable as teaching him to control his desire to engage in other unwanted behavior.
  7. Just a thought here that may be way off base ... In your original post you mentioned that this behavior has started recently. In your second post you mention cleaning feet in the current weather. Is there any chance that this behavior started when the weather changed and you started cleaning paws more frequently when she comes in? I dunno. Maybe you've been wiping paws all along. But, lots of dogs hate having their feet messed with, and even if they have been conditioned to accept it, that doesn't mean they like it. So, IF her reluctance to come inside coincides with her having to have her feet messed with more than she had previously been accustomed to, maybe that's why she's avoiding coming in. Just something to think about, but if you think there's been a change in the foot cleaning that coincides with her starting to evade coming inside, maybe you can adjust your foot cleaning procedure. Some people are more fastidious than others, but unless the feet are really bad, I just let my dogs in the door, and figure that god gave us Swiffers for a reason. I don't mean to suggest that you can never clean your dog's feet, but if suddenly every, or nearly every, time she walks through the door she's faced with something she dislikes, well, that is sort of like punishing her for coming inside. Again, I could be totally off base here, but give it some thought, and see if you think there could be an association in her mind.
  8. I think you are basically on the right track, especially with calling her in the house and then rewarding her with a quick treat and letting her go right back outside. I would do that A LOT. The other thing I would do is play with her ("play" meaning possibly a fun training session, or a game of find the hidden treat, or something else she finds really enjoyable) for a couple minutes after you call her into the house for the last time. You want to instill two thing here: a) calling inside doesn't necessarily mean the outdoor fun is over, she may get to go right back out, and b) even if she doesn't go right back out, there's even more fun stuff that happens when she does come inside. Also, until she gets really, really, really reliable about this, a 50-ish ft long line attached to her collar whenever she is outside is your friend.
  9. Well, I wouldn't count on them becoming more manageable at 5 or 6 months. That's sort of like expecting your adorable 8 year old child to become more manageable as a teenager. It's at least as likely that they will become less manageable - faster, stronger, more independent, more inclined to test boundaries, and hormone-poisoned . Over the years I've taken my dogs on unleashed walks on my mostly fenced 10 acres starting when they are a couple months old. The walks are pretty short at first, and I'm keeping a good eye on them, and as they get older they drag a long line until they learn that "come" is a command, not a suggestion. But yeah, they get to run around, and stop and sniff, and roll in the dirt, and yes, occasionally snack on some deer poop starting at a young age. I throw a nice soft toy or, better yet, a precious precious plastic jug for them to fetch to remove the temptation of carrying small potentially pokey sticks around. Yes, there are risks. They could step in a hole. They could roll in something more odiferus than dirt. Although I keep a good eye out and only take them for these walks in broad daylight, I suppose they could encounter a porcupine, or skunk. Coyotes have been known to jump or dig under the fence. I dunno. One person's "being cautious" is another person's "helicopter parent", but whatever level of risk you are willing to tolerate, those risks aren't going to go away when your pups hit their adolescent years.
  10. You say you've talked to your vet, but has he been checked for a bladder infection? Those are less common in young males than in females, but certainly not unheard of. My senior bitch recently started needing to go outside like three times per night, and after a couple more or less sleepless nights for both of us, it was off to the vet. One day on Clavamox, and poof!, she's clearly feeling soooo much more comfortable, and able to control her bladder for much longer. If your vet hasn't already ruled that out, you should definitely consider treating for a possible infection.
  11. You don't say how old your dog is but I'm guessing somewhere between a year and a year and a half? If that's the case, the wild destruction may wane on its own in a few months. I've read, and had this confirmed by my vet, that dogs go through two teething phases. The first one is the one in which the teeth emerge through the gums, and lots of pups become compulsive chewers at that point, presumably because chewing relieves the discomfort of teeth poking through gum tissue. And then teething is done, and many compulsive chewers become much less compulsive, or lose interest in chewing all together by the time they are about 9 months to a year old. And then, just when you think it's safe to leave a shoe on the floor for a moment, dogs go through a second teething phase somewhere around 15 months, give or take a couple months. This is the point at which the teeth are becoming fully anchored in the jaw bone. and lots of dogs will resume their constant need to chew for another month or two or three at this point. Your dog certainly sounds more extreme than most, but, well, he is a border collie. Anyway, out of the 10 dogs I've owned, two came to me as young adults, and 6 showed the pattern of becoming chewing monsters at about 5-6 months of age, then seemed to outgrow it, then one day when they were about 14-16 months old, suddenly needed to destroy my couch, carpet, shoes, whatever. I'm a slow learner, but for my last two dogs, I've been pretty vigilant about keeping them crated when I couldn't directly supervise them until they were over 2 years old. As for the humping... Lots of times when people ask about what to do about dogs that constantly bark, they are advised to reach the dog to do the undesirable behavior on command, and then teach an stop command as part of that. So, uhm, maybe you want to teach your dog to hump on command, so that you can then teach him to stop??? Probably not. But the concept amuses me. Because I'm 12.
  12. In addition to using a chain leash (clipping a chain slip collar to the end is genius if you can't find a chain leash), if this is something that always happens just at the very last block or your walk, try not always making the last block be the end of your walk. It sounds to me like Kev knows when the walk is about to be over, and is doing whatever he can to take control at that point. We advise people when teaching a recall not to only use the recall when the fun is about to end. Do lots of recalls, reward, and then release your dog to go play again. You may need to apply the same principle to your walks. When you do return home, can you sometimes walk a block or two past your home, turn around and then come back? Can you vary your walk so that you approach home from different directions? Can you drive a block or two or three from your home, park your car, walk your dog, return to your car, and then drive the two or three blocks home? The idea here is to make it less predictable to Kev when the walk is about to end.
  13. Scent work was the first thing I thought of too. If you type "scent work" or "nosework" into the seach bar on youtube you will find a bajillion videos on training scent work. I even saw a couple that specifically mentioned helping a dog with anxiety by teaching scent work right in the title. If there is a dog training club near you, they may offer scent work classes. Even if your dog is too anxious to attend a class, most instructors would be happy to take your money and let you come and watch the class, and then you can do the same things with your dog at home. There may be many who disagree with me about this, but I also suggest doing some formal (competition style) obedience training with your dog. Again, your dog is probably way too anxious to attend a class, but classes are all about training the handler, and then you go home and apply and practice what you learned in class. The reason I recommend competition style obedience (which I really don't enjoy in the least myself) is that it is highly structured and takes a lot of concentration on the part of the dog and handler. If your goal is to mentally tire your dog, using all positive training to find and maintain perfect heel position and perfect "fronts" can keep you and your dog occupied forever. And don't worry about having to teach your dog to walk with his head craned up staring at you while heeling. That's completely unnecessary. It's all about finding and maintaining a precise position, not about staring into your face. If you can't stomach formal obedience, then trick training can accomplish the same thing, and again, youtube is your friend. All of these activities require the dog to concentrate, without the adrenaline rush of agility or flyball. And concentration is what will tire your dog.
  14. You should reconsider ducks. Yes, they are messy, but most of the mess is confined to wherever you keep their water. Ducks don't need to have a swimming pool. For a small flock of maybe a half dozen ducks, one of those rectangular feed pans that are about 1.5 ft X 2 ft X 0 .5 ft deep is plenty as long as you change the water daily. You can reduce the mess quite a bit if you cover an area around the water pan with coarse gravel. There will still be a mess but it's not like you have to turn your whole yard into a mud pit. I recommend khaki campbell ducks if you want eggs. Domestic mallards are also nice (make sure they are the small mallards, and not the big rouen ducks that look like mallards but are a larger meat breed.) Smaller sized ducks move more readily and eat less. Runner ducks and runner crosses are popular but I don't like them for dog training and I don't understand their popularity at all. The biggest problem with ducks is that the males are serial rapist and will harass females mercilessly during breeding season. Having an all male flock is not the answer, because they will just gang up on the weakest male if there are no hens available. An all female flock is better, but then you have to deal with eggs. I rinse them off, and store them in a zip lock bag in the freezer. They will crack as they freeze, but I just cut them in half while still frozen and add a half egg-sickle (including shell) to my dogs' dinners. The dogs love the eggs, and I feel like I'm getting a little something back for the cost of the duck feed.
  15. I'm not a vet, and I exercise my young dogs more than a lot of people do. So I would say that 30 min of fetch IN A DAY is not excessive. But 30 minutes of CONTINUOUS fetch probably is not advisable. Five minutes of fetch followed by ten minutes of walking, and the five more minutes of fetch then more walking, then maybe a couple more minutes of fetch would probably be better. There are a lot more twisting and high impact stops and turns in a round of fetch than we realize. Short bursts of intense activity and longer rounds of low impact activity will give you the benefits of exercise with much less stress on young joints
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