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climbing stairs

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We have a three story and everytime I take legolas (7 weeks) outside for potty, I always try to make him climb some stairs. For a while he would only go up several steps then stop. So i picked him up and walked the rest of the way and expected him to do so in the future. Well, two days ago I didnt bother to try and he just walked up all three flights like it was nothing. I was so shocked and amazed. He even sits on command when we get to the front door. I am glad I got a BC and enjoy reading everyone's story. :rolleyes:

 

I also read that many people have been talking about the book pack of two?? Does anyone know the author??

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Originally posted by Legolas:

I also read that many people have been talking about the book pack of two?? Does anyone know the author??

Caroline Knapp. She died, tragically, a year or two ago, of lung cancer, I think. It is a great book.

 

MR

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Originally posted by Sabreur:

Caroline Knapp. She died, tragically, a year or two ago, of lung cancer, I think. It is a great book.

 

MR

She died? I had no idea.

 

I got the book for Christmas a couple years ago, and enjoyed it, although I found her a bit overdramatic about the whole human-dog relationship thing, and I admit I got a little tired of her comparing everything to being an alcoholic-in-therapy.

 

I wonder what happened to her dog?

 

I just bought Jon Katz's A Dog Year and it was a nice read. I thought it was funny that he found his first border collie such a challenge and was tempted to FedEx him Red Dog so he could see what a REAL challenge was. And I was rather nonplussed that he clicker trained his dog to herd. Other than that, it was a sweet book.

 

RDM

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On the climbing stairs thing. Maybe I?m over cautious, but I would not be keen on a small pup doing too much on stairs. If you have to, then up is better than down, but I?m sure I?ve read, here and elsewhere, that, like jumping, stairs are best left till the pup is quite a bit older and the joints have developed more, without undue stress. The last thing you want is the pup to develop shoulder or elbow or spinal problems.

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This suggests he succeeded in clicker training his dog to herd. I don't think we have any reason to believe that, do we? All we know is that he was misguided enough to believe that you can clicker train a border collie to herd, and to so represent to others in his book.

 

Tassie, I don't think there's anything harmful in a pup going up and down stairs. Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's just climbing behavior, which helps in developing pups' coordination and motor skills. I have always wished my pups would climb up and down stairs, instead of jumping up and down any flight of five steps or less.

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I think what Tassie is referring to in the "shouldn't do stairs" thing is the concern many people have about injury to the joints and bones. Puppies ARE more vulnerable to that - partly because they still have open growth plates, partly because they ARE still uncoordinated - but normal stair climbing and descending shouldn't be an issue. If they FELL down the stairs, that could be more of an issue, and I personally (to the extent that I can stop them!) won't let my little puppies (like, under 6 months of age) jump down off of anything high, which would increase the risk of injury. But unless the stairs are very steep with poor footing (like bare wood or linoleum) or unless the puppy is a real maniac about racing down them, it should be okay. Eileen has a good point about it being a physical challenge that will help the pup gain coordination and strength. It's always good to be cautious and guard the pup against injury, but if he's being careful in his descents it should be okay.

 

Finn was VERY cautious when he frist learned stairs, especially going down. Also, my bed is quite high and I lifted him on and off it til he was about 5 months old (he physically couldn't jump up on it due to height til maybe 4 months, and then had to learn HOW to do it.) I still lifted him off for a while but between 5 nd 6 months he learned how to jump off of it and was too fast for me to always grab him and lift him down. Then he developed this thing where instead of just jumping off the bed he would first leap upward into the air like a jackrabbit, effectively increasing his fall distance by about 18 inches. :eek: This did not thrill me. However, he is still completely sound despite his best efforts.

 

We do see puppies in with "fall" injuries - often fractures and dislocations, which can be quite serious - but usually (unless it is a very tiny breed) they have to descend a greater distance than a stair. So far as I know there are no studies that prove that doing stairs in a reasonable fashion in puppyhood leads to other injuries. Just my opinion, though, so do what's comfortable to you.

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Right, I agree -- that's what I meant when I said I wished my pups would climb up and downs stairs normally instead of jumping onto and off the deck, for example. I prevent them from jumping when I can, but I certainly don't achieve anything like 100% success. So far I've had no problems -- including no OCD when others with littermates have had it -- which has caused me to conclude that keeping jumping down to a dull roar (to mix metaphors) is usually sufficient. I hope so, anyway.

 

I'm not very good with full crate rest, either. :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

This suggests he succeeded in clicker training his dog to herd. I don't think we have any reason to believe that, do we? All we know is that he was misguided enough to believe that you can clicker train a border collie to herd, and to so represent to others in his book.

Have you read the book? I don't know a lot about Jon Katz, but in the book he says he took his dog to a trainer named Carolyn Wilkes who told him his dogs were "barbie collies" and then proceeded to instruct him in the art of click-rewarding the dog whenever it reached the correct balance point (more or less, this is a summary of what he wrote). He goes on to say that his youngest border collie, under Ms. Wilkes' training, has gone on to win several rubbons in herding, but he doesn't elaborate, and he also doesn't say in what venues. He does mention in the book that his dogs came from a breeder who breeds obedience and companion-tempered dogs, so I would assume it's all AKC related.

 

I wasn't *endorsing* the clicker trianing method; I personally can't see how you CAN train a herding dog to move stock with a clicker, I was just reporting what he wrote and expressing that it left me feeling a little blank about the whole concept. It was a pretty nice book up until that point, and then I was left with a big question mark above my head, so to speak.

 

Edited to add: regarding the stairs thing, I remember years ago some friends of mine had a Lab puppy shipped to them from across the country, and on his very first day home he managed to fall down the back stairs and break his leg. I've never had a problem with stairs, because I live on the fourth floor of an old walk up, and all my pups have learned stairs right away, so there is no leaping and hurling themselves from the top allowed. No injuries so far.

 

RDM

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Oh yes, I've read the book. Katz markets his books very aggressively, and he approached me before the publication date to read it and perhaps supply an endorsement. I didn't care for the book, and despised the herding chapter, so that came to nothing. (I'm kinda surprised you liked it -- if anybody had asked me to predict whether you would or not, I'd have guessed that you wouldn't.)

 

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Yes, that's an accurate summary. Trainer's name is Carolyn Wilki, to be exact.

 

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I'm almost sure he makes no claim in the book that he's won several ribbons. I vaguely recall hearing since that time (and since I talked to him, at which time he professed not to be interested in competition) that he's since gotten his Herding Tested and Pre-Trial Tested titles, which come with a ribbon, I'm sure. They are AKC titles that are basically an instinct test. I suppose this will sound snotty, unfortunately, but these titles in no way indicate that a dog is a useful working dog on any level.

 

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Actually, she's a conformation breeder. I have no doubt that it's all AKC-related.

 

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I know you weren't endorsing it, but I would not want anyone left with the impression that clicker training is an effective way to train a border collie to herd livestock. I'm sorry that the book gives that impression, by the worshipful tone it takes toward Carolyn Wilki.

 

But perhaps what you meant was that you were nonplussed that he would present (or use) clicker training as a way to train his dog to herd?

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Now I'm going to have to read this book, just to see what he says. But never fear, I won't buy it (thus adding to the royalties)... I have a friend who has it. I'll ask to borrow it.

 

Eileen, if you keep your dogs to a dull roar, you're doing better than I am! The North American Inter-Breed Dog Wrestling Championships are evidently held under my bed almost nightly, much to my suprise. (Who knew when I bought the joint that it was a sporting venue?) :rolleyes: Apparantly the warm-up for this event requires approximately 237 mandatory laps around the bedposts, although it appears the rule book does not specify whether the laps should be performed by going UNDER the bed or OVER it (and any current occupants) and it looks like carrying dog toys in the mouth during the laps may earn extra points in the scoring, as this mode appears popular.

 

Oh, well... the body strengthens in response to the stresses laid upon it, and so far no injuries despite the extreme enthusiasm of the participants...

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Originally posted by Eileen Stein:

(I'm kinda surprised you liked it -- if anybody had asked me to predict whether you would or not, I'd have guessed that you wouldn't.)

Actually, there were several things about it I didn't like. But I found it entertaining, and a nice easy read. I think it took me an hour. I did like the strong feelings he had for his dogs, but as I said in my first post, I was a little surprised he found Devon/Orson/Whatever such a challenge. As I said to someone else yesterday, "that" dog comes into rescue about once a week and that dog is not that difficult to handle. I was mainly amused that he was so troubled by his, ultimately, bored dog. But as a rescuer, I did like the overall concept of him working to change his lifestyle to accomodate the dog because honestly, we get dogs all the time precisely because people would NOT accomodate their dog.

 

Nevertheless, I enjoy a nice easy read on a subject interesting to me, and this was certainly that. I found some parts of the book quite funny, especially when he swore at his dogs ... not because my sense of humour is infantile, but rather because it sounded a lot like ME. They certainly give me cause to swear at them frequently, which is a source of much amusement for the neighbors (and once, a nasty note on my door too).

 

I liked Elizabeth Marshall Thomas' books for the same reason. I disagree with almost everything she writes, but I find the subject matter interesting. So I wouldn't say I LOVED the book or anything, but I didn't hate. I enjoyed reading it, even for all its many flaws. Much the same way I am enjoying Tweed right now, even though he is sitting under my chair contemplating ways to kill his big brother.

 

I'm almost sure he makes no claim in the book that he's won several ribbons.
Well, the book is sitting on my desk and it was really easy to find the reference. On page 205 he says "Homer had won several trial ribbons, but our best times came out in the pasture with Carolyn's flock ..." Several trial ribbons seemed pretty self explanatory to me.

 

But perhaps what you meant was that you were nonplussed that he would present (or use) clicker training as a way to train his dog to herd?
Well yes and no. Since he did say that Homer won "several trial ribbons," and since he did emphasize the use of the clicker in herding training, I have to admit to being nonplussed if this claim was, in fact, true. It didn't leave me with a very nice impression of his trainer (and sorry I got her named wrong) and it did ultimately make me think he didn't understand his dogs all that well after all, but I was pretty amazed that he could accomplish trial ribbons with a clicker. More than that though, I was just left feeling generally blank about the entire notion. I think he was a better dog owner when he drew a clear line between behaviour and consequence (ie, with his Labs).

 

RDM

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Hmm. I read the book in advance proofs, and my version has only 194 pages, including the Acknowledgements and Caution. I've just pulled it out to look, and it absolutely says nothing about ribbons. That must have been something added later but before publication. So that mystery is solved.

 

As for the mystery of how he could have "won several trial ribbons," that's harder. IF (big "if") the statement is true, it just confirms me in my conclusion that AKC herding titles/ribbons are worthless. Incidentally, I did spectate an AKC trial at Raspberry Ridge several years ago, and that experience was one of the main bases on which I formed that conclusion.

 

The fact that the book gives the impression that clicker training produces prizewinning herding border collies adds another big gripe to the gripes I have about this book.

 

BTW, maybe the reason he found Devon such a challenge was that he built up so many weird explanations for why the dog did what he did. I agree the subject matter is inherently interesting, and I agree that it's good to be committed to your dog, but I find plenty of that subject matter and commitment in the posts on these boards, and if someone says something utterly off the wall here, somebody else will step in to question or correct it. Too bad nobody can do that in his book.

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AK dog doc, that's really funny.

 

It looks like I'm going to have to go to the library and get that book to read. I had no desire (espesially after the comparison, albeit mild, to Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's books) but I'm afraid curiosity is getting the better of me now. Since Eileen said it really isn't like Thomas's books I think I'll have to risk it.

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Thanks for the extra information on stairs, AK Dog Doc, Eileen and others. I guess that clarified that teaching the pup to do stairs correctly is the way to go. My house and other places my pups have been don?t have stairs, so I don?t have first hand experience. Other than lifting the pups in and out of the car when they were younger, and not starting jumping training until they were older, I certainly hadn?t restricted my pups? exploration of what their bodies could do ? other than, as Eileen says, trying to keep it to a dull roar. My acre has fallen trees and bush to climb and jump around, and then of course there?s always the furniture. And even if I had tried, Fergus is a great exponent of the four-footed leap when he?s going over to the fence to see the neighbor or something ? I think he?s crossed with a gazelle or antelope.

 

AK Doc - do your (sorry, Finn's) rules have extra points for scattering cats as you go? :rolleyes:

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Sadly, the cats are wise to his tricks and either make themselves scarce, or sit in the Sphinx position and refuse to be budged. Spoilsports.

 

Glad folks are entertained... Finn is a comedy act in three parts pretty much daily (ably assisted by his sidekicks Buddy and MacKenzie)... :rolleyes:

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thank you all for your input. I went to a trainer yesterday and asked for advice about legolas training and I started to give him treats for all the good things he does so the positive reinforcements are there. I know some of you warn about puppies jumping too early but legolas only goes up the stairs. He knows he is not ready to go down the stairs. Its kind of funny cuz he wants to come down but doesnt have the courage to do so yet so I end up getting a starimaster exercise! He will be enrolled in a 8 week basic puppy training course starting november 23rd. By that time he will be 3 months old. I guess for me its the patience I need to obtain till that time. I know he is ready for training now because he already knows the sit command, he is starting to look for more challenges instead of playing with toys. I am trying to get him to fetch at a short distance. But he still has a relatively short attention span.

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Hey Legolas, nice name for your dog, but is he blond? :rolleyes:

 

AK dog doc too funny...............,

I am so glad you clarified the dogs actions, I didn't know it was an event :confused: the mystery is now solved and I will start keeping score. :D

Andrea D.

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Perhaps AK Dog Doc could address this question --

 

I am still a bit confused over what type of physical activity is okay for a young dog.

 

My BC/Lab-X Bailey is now 9 months old and weighs 70 pounds. We have an upstairs floor to our house with a carpeted stairway between the main and second floor. The stairway is a wide straight path, with no turns. Starting when Bailey was about five months old, he took to semi-flying down the stairs. He descends the 8 vertical feet and 14 stairs in about 1.5 seconds, never tripping, never falling. It is a completely controlled and graceful (but very fast) descent.

 

I often put him on a leash and walk him down the stairs, but he still manages to get in his flying descent once or twice a day.

 

I tend to operate under the theory of "no pain, no strain". Bailey's descent technique obviously is not causing him immediate pain or else he would quit doing it. I have faith that Mother Nature teaches animals to not repetitively do some physical maneuver that is painful.

 

So if the flying descent doesn't cause Bailey immediate physical pain, then what is the chance that it is doing him any harm?

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Hi, Hector

Probably Baily is doing himself no harm at all, in general. The body does strengthen in response to the demands made on it, so long as those demands allow the body TIME to strengthen, and so long as they don't exceed the structural capability of the tissues. So probably Bailey has been in training for some mysterious doggie stair-descending competition (I'll have to see if Finn has some secret literature on this sport hidden under his bed - I'll let you know, shall I? :rolleyes: ) and has practised up enough that he can handle the stresses. Also, at 9 months of age, if his growth plates aren't closed by now, they soon will be, and some of the injuries that come from puppy recklessness are due to damage to the open growth plates, which are a weak spot in the bone until they fuse (generally at pubety, slightly later in animals neutered before puberty). This is probably no longer an issue with Bailey. Also, he sounds athletic, which means that he's less likely to take a header than if he were a klutz. Your footing is good, so less chance of a slip-and-fall. And, the descent itself, even if swift, isn't the biggest stressor on the joint for a dog his size - it's the stopping that might strain something, if he were to do it in an uncoordinated or abrupt way. (A little dog for whom the steps are still pretty big compared to his body size would be more likely to ding himself up.) Over time and repeated stresses, a dog can develop a use injury - like old sled dogs who have sore shoulders and so on - but racing down the stairs a few times a day shouldn't do it. We're talking dogs that run 80 miles a day and 1049 miles in 8 or 9 days, here, on snow and ice - to say nothing of the thousands of miles they do in training, year in and year out.

 

I don't think puppies sould be running marathons and I don't think they should be doing a lot of jumping down from high places. But I DO think they should be able to play and roughhouse and run around and be puppies. These activities strengthen their tissues and improve their coordination. As they get bigger, stronger and more coordinated, they can gradually take on bigger challenges. When Finn was really little he tired a lot more easily, so I let him goof around on reasonably level footing for 30 minutes to an hour 2 or 3 times a day. By about the age of 16 weeks (when his vaccines were done) we were going for hour-long hikes in the woods, where he ran with his mother and father and my other dogs (fenced area, but some hilly terrain). We gradually worked up to now, when it is not possible to tire him with a four hour hike and him running essentially the entire time. I'd say he could have handled that by 10 months to a year, maybe sooner (didn't test him on it 'til he was 13 months).

 

The best liklihood of having a sound dog in old age is to keep them trim, keep them fit (not necessary to have them at the level of extreme performance dogs, just reasonable amounts of activity several times a week), and give them good nutritional support (glucosamine and chondroitin have been proven to improve cartilage regeneration in dogs, and there are several antioxidant food substances which generally help repair damage to all tissues.) Any dog can get an injury, but that's life. Most everyone on the boards seems to have good common sense - that's a great place to start, as it sound like you have. BC's are made to move. We should let them. Reasonable precautions in puppies are a great idea, but it sounds like you got Bailey past his most vulnerable stage in fine shape, so you're doing great so far. You aren't encouraging reckless behavior, and while good stair manners are nice to have (partly so YOU don't go flying down the stairs at the same rate of speed, only on your head), the twice a day he sprints them is probably a non-issue.

 

So that was pretty long-winded... did I answer your question? (Everyone else groaning and saying, "Please god say YES!" :D )

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Thanks Ak Dog Doc -- that answered my question fully! Your reply is very understandable, so thank you very much! Bailey is coordinated and he is reasonably fit. For the past three months he has been walking-trotting about 1.5 miles per day three or four times a week and this has given him good muscle tone. If there is a doggy stair descending competition I am sure he would like to sign up! Thanks again.

 

Hector

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ak dog doc

 

I read that your dog likes to jump like a jackrabbit off of beds and high things. Onix started to walk up stairs but would walk down. In the last three days, he started to walk down them with no problem then yesterday, man was he soooo chipper, he walked down to the last two steps and then jumped like a rabbit. I was a bit concerned cuz I dont want him to hurt himself at this young age of 8 wks. But its so funny at the same time.

I told onix "i thought you guys were smart, dont you know you are going to hurt yourself?"

ha, the incident reminded me of your story.

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They are a riot, aren't they?

 

The occasional hop is unlikely to hurt him if he lands okay. I just tried to keep it from being a habit with Finn til his growth plates closed. (emphasis on "tried".)

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