Heroic Bystander Saves The Life Of Dog Who Was Run Over

Timing is absolutely crucial in the event a dog survives getting hit or run over by a car. Injured dogs are left completely vulnerable to further injury, totally exposed in the street. A lifesaver in New York had this in mind when he ran into the street to save an injured dog from a worse fate.

The Robledo family was having their car serviced at Honda of New Rochelle. Fortunately for them, general manager James Gallagher worked that day. He was the one who saw the Robledos’ 3-year-old Shih Tzu Charlie get run over by a car on Main Street. Cindy Robledo described her horror to ABC7.

“I was terrified. I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what just happened to my dog… He’s not just a dog. He is a kid. A human being.”

Gallagher sprung into action instantly, worried about more oncoming cars.

“My biggest concern of course was the dog getting hit again. I heard it whimpering, so I was like, alright the dog’s alive. That’s when I knew time was of the essence.”

Having gotten to Charlie in time, Gallagher offered to drive the injured dog and his family to the vet. Cindy Robledo considered his intervention a godsend.

“It’s just really shocking. He’s an angel. He’s an angel that just came and rescued my dog.”

They already suffered some financial setbacks this year (including losing their home,) so the Robledos were devastated to learn how expensive Charlie’s treatment would be. The Robledos visited 2 clinics the day of the accident and at the end of the day the poor pup needed emergency surgery. They simply couldn’t afford it.

James Gallagher via GoFundMe

Gallagher, who had already done so much for Charlie, offered to cover the vet bill. The Robledo family vowed to pay him back, but he refused their offers. All he wants is for them to pay it forward when they’re comfortable enough to do so.

“I know what it’s like to not have the finances to be able to take care of a situation. And I wasn’t gonna let a dog die because of money. Absolutely not.”

He also set up a GoFundMe to help cover any other expenses for the family. Charlie is recovering now, but he suffered neurological and spinal damage. At the time of this post, we’re still waiting to know whether he’ll be able to walk again.

Bill Michael via GoFundMe

Sending all my well wishes to Charlie and his family during his recovery. We really need more James Gallaghers.

H/T: ABC7
Featured Image: Bill Michael via GoFundMe

The post Heroic Bystander Saves The Life Of Dog Who Was Run Over appeared first on iHeartDogs.com.

Whole Dog Journal’s 2019 Gear of the Year

If there is one thing that drives us crazy, it’s spending our hard-earned money on something that looks useful for our dogs – but breaks within just a few uses, or fails to deliver anything special. The items here, in contrast, are all tested and true. This is stuff that’s worth the time, cost, and trouble.

Clawguard Scratch Shield $26

GO TO:
Clawguard
Charlotte, NC
clawguard.com

We were bowled over by the simplicity and effectiveness of this product when we first spotted it at a pet products trade show – a sheet of durable plastic that hangs from the doorknob on the inside of your door and covers both your door and the door frame, preventing your dog from scratching the door or frame. Brilliant! 

Clawguard is meant to hang on the inside of doors; this assumes a dog who is inside the house and scratching to get out. As such, it doesn’t interfere with the opening of a door inward. But if you were looking for a solution to protect the outside of a door that swings inward (as in the case of a dog who was locked outside and was trying to get in), you’d have to take the Clawguard off the door before opening it. 

One side of the Clawguard sheet is smooth and the other has little ridges. Turn it whichever way you prefer: When a dog scratches on the side with the ridges, his claws make a loud “scritch!” sounds that is enough to dissuade many dogs from scratching again. If you are more averse to the noise than your dog, just turn the Clawguard around.

Clawguard comes in two weights (thicknesses): regular and heavy duty. Doors would be well-protected by the regular Clawguard from smaller dogs and dogs who aren’t strongly invested in scratching, but the heavy-duty would be recommended for dogs with separation anxiety or who have a well-established habit of door-destruction.  

The company includes a piece of adhesive-backed hook-and-loop fastener that can be used to secure the bottom of the sheet if needed; in reviews, we’ve seen some buyers mention that they needed to buy more strips of similar material to hold the sheet really firmly in place – a small price to pay to protect your home.

Clawguard can be purchased directly from the company, or for a bit less from online retailers such as Chewy.com and Amazon.com. The company does not take phone orders but is responsive via email.

Pooch Paper 50 sheets: $12

GO TO:
Pooch Paper
New York, NY
littlebooandyou.com

Reducing plastic consumption is an ongoing goal for many of us, but when it comes to poop bags, it’s where may owners draw the line. Biodegradeable bags improved matters somewhat, but still contained plastic – an imperfect solution. 

Here’s the first product we’ve found that works well for picking up and disposing dog poop that contains no plastic whatsoever. Pooch Paper a large sheet (about 12 x 12 inches) of recycled, non-chlorine-bleached, coated paper – sort of like wax paper. It’s strong enough to grab even large or squishy piles of poop without breaking or leaking through, and once you have it contained, you just twist up the edges and carry it by the top of the bundle until you find an appropriate place to dispose it. And it’s really, truly, fully biodegradable and compostable. 

Folks who are accustomed to picking up and then carrying dog waste for some distance will undoubtedly miss the handles of their environmentally unfriendly plastic bags. But if the poop you have to pick up doesn’t have to be carried far, you’ll find this paper more than adequate for keeping your hands and the earth equally clean.

Pooch Paper comes in a box of 50 folded sheets for $12 for most consumers; dog daycare or shelters might be interested in a box of 4,000 flat sheets for $450. Purchase online from the manufacturer’s Etsy store (Etsy.com/shop/littlebooandyou)

“Raising the worst dog ever” $20

GO TO:
“Raising the Worst Dog Ever”
DDTA Publishing, 2019

Books that are written to inform do this best when they have a story to tell. Dog trainer Dale M. Ward’s new book Raising the Worst Dog Ever: A Survival Guide (DDTA Publishing, 2019) exemplifies this notion. This book is first a thorough, interesting, and progressively minded puppy-raising guide, written for owners who wish to “do things right” with their new family member. Second, it is a personal and touching memoir of Ward’s life with dogs in general, and with one dog in particular, her Labrador Retriever, Wylie (aka “The Best/Worst Dog Ever”). 

The book begins with the author’s relocation to a remote area in Wisconsin’s Northwoods region with her new husband. Isolated and often alone in an unfamiliar community, Ward decides to bring a new dog into her life – enter puppy Wylie. Ward tells the story of Wylie’s journey interwoven into her own personal story, using a series of events and adventures that they encounter together during Wylie’s life. This engaging approach is riveting and entertaining – and an incredibly helpful teaching tool. Each vignette includes a section at the end that provides pertinent dog-raising advice. Ward not only delivers excellent dog training information (and the science that supports it), but also includes reams of information regarding dog behavior, the importance of daily routines, dogs’ exercise and enrichment needs, safety and responsible dog ownership, and health – all things that new owners need to know and can benefit from. 

While Ward directs her advice to new puppy owners, the breadth and depth of dog training and behavior information in this book will be helpful to everyone from seasoned dog owners to professional trainers. Ward’s and Wylie’s personal stories are poignant and endearing, and the author’s message is uplifting. I found myself falling in love with sweet Wylie and revisiting many of my own cherished dogs from years past. This is a book for curling up next to your dogs, hugging them close, and following the journey of Wylie and Dale’s life together. 

The added benefit is that you will also learn a lot about reward-based and dog-centered training methods along the way. Ward is the owner of Dale’s Dog Training Academy, LLC, located in northeast North Carolina. Dale is a certified Victoria Stilwell Positively Dog Trainer (VSPDT), a Fear Free Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a licensed Family Paws Parent Educator. Readers will benefit from Ward’s dog training experience and knowledge – and be entertained and moved by her stories of life with Wylie. – Linda P. Case

 “Canine Enrichment for the Real World” $20

GO TO:
“Canine Enrichment for the Real World”
Dogwise Publishing, 2019

I’m a huge fan of making dogs’ lives as enriched as possible, full of opportunities for them to engage in very doggy activities, exercise for their bodies and brains, and challenges that are within their abilities to solve (but not too easy). But even so, I wondered how someone could think of enough enriching activities and toys to fill a small book, much less a 230-page book! 

Silly me; that’s far from all the book discusses; it’s not just a list of games and food puzzles that your dog might enjoy. The authors explain that enrichment is not just giving our dogs things to do or creating an environment that looks good to us. Rather, they say, “Enrichment is learning what our dogs needs really are and then structuring an environment for them that allows them, as much as feasible, to meet those needs.”

They add: “If we don’t understand who dogs are as a species or what their needs actually are, the enrichment process will not get very far. If we rely on myths, misunderstandings, and romanticized notions abut dogs, we are bound to miss the mark when trying to enrich them. For this reason, this book covers a much broader range of topics than most people might expect from a book about enrichment. This isn’t just about toys and play. It’s about who dogs are, the entire spectrum of their physical, behavioral, and instinctual needs, and how we can meet those needs as a part of our daily routine.”

The authors have completely and engagingly succeeded in describing what dogs need in order to be behaviorally, mentally, and emotionally healthy and how, in practical and readily achievable ways, we can provide those things to the companions we love so much. 

The authors are highly educated animal behavior consultants (they each have CDBC, CPDT-KA, and SBA certifications) who work with all companion animal species and have extensive dog training résumés. They make the behavioral science that underpins their recommendations accessible to even novice owners and fascinating to even very experienced trainers. I’ll be sending copies of this book home with every foster dog or puppy I place from now on. – Nancy Kerns

BreezeGuards $260 pair

GO TO:
Mutt Managers
Woodinville, WA
(866)653-5631
breezeguard.com

Any of you ever bring your dog with you in the car? Of course! Don’t we all? But it’s gotten more and more worrisome, especially if we park the car and leave our dogs inside for even the quickest errand. When we leave the windows cracked only a bit, we run the risk of either our dogs being too warm or people thinking (erroneously) that our dogs are too warm – and if we lower the windows too much, we run the risk that someone might reach inside and steal our dog, or that our dog jumps out!

Enter BreezeGuards: custom-made welded steel wire mesh cage panels or “screens” that fit your car’s window opening. They are sold in sets of two, to ensure a cross-breeze in your car, and install from the inside of the vehicle to allow for free movement of the window glass, so you can leave them in place when you get back in the car, turn on the air conditioning, and close the windows. 

They are also strong enough to contain even a large dog who is motivated to escape your car. If you have concerns about this, watch the installation instruction video on the manufacturer’s website; you’ll see how these are not just mounted by the pressure of the window, like the low-cost plastic screens sold elsewhere. BreezeGuards are custom-made for your exact vehicle model (so they fit the window opening fully and precisely) and have anchors that slide down into the door, between the window glass and the door frame. You can leave them in place and drive with the window open or closed, and open and close the car door normally. 

BreezeGuards are made in Washington state and will arrive about three weeks after ordering. Everyone we know who already has them says they will never have another car without them. 

Ventlock $20 – $36

Want to increase the airflow in your parked car even more – again, without allowing someone to reach in and steal your safely crated dog or other belongings? Then you might be interested in this ingenious little product, which allows you to prop open your car’s tailgate, rear hatch, or even a side door, while simultaneously preventing the locked door from being opened enough for anyone to reach inside and take things. 

The Ventlock is a steel rod that connects to both ends of the locking mechanisms that latch and lock your car hatch or door. It comes in lengths ranging from four inches (for use with uncrated dogs in cooler weather) to 24 inches (for dogs in large crates only, because otherwise they could escape, and small crates could be stolen).

GO TO:
Clean Run
South Hadley, MA
(800)311-6503
cleanrun.com

There are photos on the Clean Run website that show the Ventlock being used in many different ways, with many different types of cars and trucks. Watch the demonstration video, too, so you can see how the tool is used, and how easy it is to put on and take off (as long as you have the keys to the car!). 

If you used an appropriately sized Ventlock on a car’s rear hatch in combination with BreezeGuards, you’d have as much air coming through the car as possible, with as much security for your dog as possible. Sounds like a great tactic for anyone who travels a lot with a dog.

PetAmI waterproof dog blanket $21

When you have dogs, having a few waterproof blankets around is handy, especially in the winter. Waterproof blankets can keep your car seats dry and clean, even when your dog decides to lay down in that huge puddle right before leaving the dog park. They can help your dog get warm and dry after coming back inside from going potty – without making your sofa smell like damp dog. And if you have an older dog with occasional urinary incontinence or one who leaks urine while sleeping, water-resistant blankets are a godsend, preventing the need to launder bulky dog beds or your own bed comforter – just pop the blanket in the washer. 

But when a friend recommended this blanket to us as a potential Gear of the Year entry, we were frankly dubious. One side of the blanket is fleecy; the other is smooth. It just doesn’t look like the sort of blanket that would be waterproof. Most of the water-resistant bed covers and blankets we’ve seen were not very inviting fabrics; they mostly seemed sort of canvas-like. This blanket looks fluffy and soft!

GO TO:
PetAmi Waterproof Dog Blanket
amazon.com

We expressed our skepticism – to which our friend responded with a video she made, where she poured a glass of water over the blanket so we could see the water pool on the top, and then run right off when she held the blanket upright. Well, all right!

Our friend has a 70-pound dog who sometimes experiences urinary incontinence while asleep, and this blanket, our friend says, has contained the whole, um, issue on more than one occasion. In the nine months our friend has owned it, she has washed the blanket a number of times and says it’s still repelling the occasional accident – and demonstration!

Available in at least a dozen colors and patterns. Our only bone to pick: The PetAmi Waterproof blanket is only 30 by 40 inches. 

Zee.Bed $90 – $120

Have you ever bought one of those space-age mattresses that comes tightly wrapped – a heavy, dense roll of compressed foam that expands to several times its size when cut free of the wrapping? If so, and if you love sleeping in that bed – well, you just might love this similar bed for your dog, too. 

The core of the Zee.Bed is a “viscoelastic foam” – a type of memory foam that breathes and molds itself to your dog, no matter his resting posture. It’s molded in a rectangle, with a raised edge that serves as a pillow for dogs with a sprawled sleeping style or gently contains dogs who sleep curled in a ball. The bed’s base features anti-slip rubber nubs that keep the bed in place, and its cover has an all-the-way-round zipper that allows for ridiculously easy removal and replacement after washing. The Zee Bed comes in two sizes: the Small is 22 x 25 inches; the Large is 28 x 32.

Zee.Dog says it takes about three hours for the bed’s foam, maximally compressed for shipping, to puff up to its ultimate, cushiony thickness. Less than an hour into the expansion process, our test dog checked out the bed. After a few exploratory sniffs and circles, he deemed it better than all the other beds scattered around our office, and wouldn’t get off until dinnertime. 

GO TO:
Zee.Dog
Raleigh, NC
zeedog.com

Zee.Dog offers a $40 to $60 “Watershield” bed cover as an accessory. It’s a thin synthetic ripstop fabric that’s meant to be used to cover the foam core of the bed, under the Zee.Bed’s microfiber cover, preventing any liquid from reaching the foam (the memory foam, like your own memory foam mattress, is not intended to be washed). 

The company does not take phone orders but is responsive via email.

Lakse Kronch Pocket trainers $6

Look, we know that treats that consist solely of fresh roasted meat or fragrant cheese are what dog trainers mean when they suggest using high-value treats. But sometimes, you need a treat that’s smells super interesting to your dog but that you can carry in the pocket of your jeans or skirt – a dry treat that is nevertheless of sufficiently high-value for training in even a very distracting environment. That’s where Lakse Kronch Pocket Trainers excel!

GO TO:
Kronch USA
Sanford, NC
(866)457-6624
kronchusa.com

These treats are made with salmon (76%) and potato meal (24%) – that’s all. The maker calls them “pocket treats” because many dog owners enjoy putting the dried treats in their pockets for dog walks without having to worry about the smell of salmon being left on their clothing. But believe us: Dogs can smell the deliciousness. 

Kronch USA says the salmon in the treats is fresh, never frozen, Norwegian salmon that is processed within 24 hours of being caught. The treats contain no ethoxyquin or other preservatives and are made in Denmark. They make terrific, behavior-building treats or very healthy supplements for your dog.

Note: We purchased from CleanRun.com. 

Lotus Ball $12 

Treat Hugger $9

The Lotus Ball is not really a ball – it’s so light-weight that you can’t throw it very far; it’s more of a treat-dispensing toy.

But it’s not the type of food-puzzle that you give to your dog to occupy his time while you are engaged in something else. 

The Lotus Ball (and the Treat Hugger) belong to a category of their own: toys that hold food but are used for training lures and/or rewards. The toy aspect is most reinforcing to some dogs – and when they discover that there are delicious treats inside, it makes the toy even more rewarding. Food-motivated dogs will be drawn to the aroma of the treats you stash inside, but will have to work for a moment to get at the treats – and most behavior experts agree that the anticipation of the treat is almost more reinforcing than the treat itself!

An added bonus is that you can throw these treat-laden toys, helping to deliver a reward to your dog at a distance from yourself – very useful for sports training!

The Lotus Ball is designed a bit like a flower, with three stuffed mesh “petals” that connect along their edges with a hook-and-loop (Velcro-like) fastener. The mesh makes the aroma of the treats inside very accessible, tantalizing your dog and motivating him to use his paws and mouth to open the toy to reach them. 

The Lotus Ball is available in three sizes: Mini, Small, and Medium. Clean Run also sells a Lotus Ball Braided Fleece Tug ($15) – a fleece Lotus Ball with an 18-inch fleece-braided “tail.” 

GO TO:
Clean Run
South Hadley, MA
(800) 311-6503
cleanrun.com

The Treat Hugger operates in the same way, but has no hook-and-loop fastener to slow down the dog who has earned the treat. Instead the treat is held in a crevice in the center of the toy; it’s much easier to get it out, making this toy more appropriate for puppies or dogs who don’t have strong foraging skills. Also, some dogs are averse to the “ripping” sound that hook-and-loop fasteners make when torn apart; the Treat Hugger has no Velcro-like fasteners, making it more ideal for these sound-sensitive dogs. It also contains more stuffing than the Lotus Ball and so appeals more to dogs who especially like stuffed toys. 

If your dog gets quickly bored of the same old treats or toys, or gets distracted easily, these toys might be just the ticket. They are great tools for helping you keep your dog keen and focused – eyes on the prize(s)! 

The post Whole Dog Journal’s 2019 Gear of the Year appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

August Spent Half His Life At The Shelter & Now He’s In A Loving Home Because Of You

ggrb august

iHeartDogs works closely with The Greater Good by donating part of each sale to their various charity efforts. One of the charities, Rescue Bank, works to donate quality dog food to shelters and rescues who are in need. Some organizations could not run without the kind donations from organizations like this, and that’s why your donations are so appreciated.

The Dogworks Rescue is just one of the many rescues that benefit from the efforts of the Greater Good Rescue Bank. Thanks to your kind donations, they were able to welcome August, the happy go lucky pup that had spent half of his life in the shelter.

August is a vivacious pup that was surrendered to his local shelter when he was just one year old. After soon spending 300 days within the walls of the Ohio shelter, his time was running out.

ggrb august
DogsWorkOhio/Facebook

August stole the hearts of the staff at the shelter with his cheerful personality and his enthusiastic take on life. Even with being adopted and returned several times, his wonderful demeanor remained intact. Volunteers and other dog lovers that met August could never understand why it was so challenging to find him a forever home, as he was such a joy in many ways.

August played well with other dogs his size, thoroughly loved car rides, and was described as a gentle giant. Aside from his wonderful temperament is the fact that he’s downright handsome as well. With his long list of lovable qualities, it’s no wonder the shelter staff and volunteers were heartbroken once they found his name on the euthanasia list.

With being one of the long-time residents at the shelter, they just couldn’t avoid this awful situation once it came time to “make some room” for other dogs in need. August’s supporters begged and pleaded with shelter workers to look for a rescue that could find a foster home for this deserving pup. After exploring every option possible, they finally found a rescue that was willing to give August a chance.

Dogworks in Toledo, Ohio is a rescue organization that helps to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home abandoned and unwanted dogs. With a team of incredible volunteers that help to advocate for dogs in need, they knew they could find someone who was up for the task of bringing August into their home.

Once they found a potential foster, it was time to introduce August to the other dog in the foster’s home. Luckily for August, the two ended up hitting it off! Not only did he find an incredible foster home, but he also gained a furry best friend.

ggrb august
VictoriaRebka/Facebook

With how well August fit in with his new foster family, it became clear that this is where he was always meant to be. August became a foster failure and was soon adopted by his incredible foster family! August had finally found his forever home.

“Thanks to GreaterGood.org’s Rescue Bank program supplying August’s food while he was fostered, it allowed for a trainer to consult with the family in order to make sure they were on the right path of acclimating August to living in a home since he had been in the shelter for so long. Rescues could not do what they do without the support of partners like GreaterGood.org and their supporters! We thank you!”-Dogworks

We are so happy that everything worked out for sweet August and are so thankful for the dog lovers who fought for his happy ending!

Image Source: DogWorksOhio/Facebook

The post August Spent Half His Life At The Shelter & Now He’s In A Loving Home Because Of You appeared first on iHeartDogs.com.

A Cry for Attention

By Lara Joseph

Parrots in the wild spend up to 60 percent of their day foraging for food © Lara Joseph

Foraging is defined as searching for food. From my observations, however, much more is involved than the mere hunt for food when a parrot carries out this behavior.  I am fascinated with watching birds forage because it has such a profound impact on their behavior in so many ways. It seems to come naturally to some companion parrots while others need to be taught. Incorporating foraging opportunities in our birds’ cages, rooms, aviaries and other environments can really help engage and stimulate their minds and fill their need to investigate. Birds develop mentally and physically through learning from their environment. Our birds’ minds expand and are put to use through the objects we incorporate into their daily environments.

In the wild, it has been noted that parrots can spend up to 60 percent of their day foraging for food. They travel up to 40 mile circumferences in their search for food (Meehan & Mench 2007). So how does this relate to the behavior of the birds we care for? Their minds and bodies have evolved and developed to incorporate this activity in their daily lives. We, as parrot caregivers, often work with parrots in cages. How we feed them impacts behavior. If we feed in a dish, they often consume their daily requirement of food in just 15 minutes. What are they going to do with all the extra time? This gives a lot of opportunity for the bird to learn desirable or undesirable behavior. I always say, “If you take away one natural behavior from an animal, you had better replace it with another. If you do not, the animal is likely to find a replacement behavior and many times this will not be a behavior we care for or find easy to live with.” I also believe, through experience, that the more intelligent the mind, the harder it is to live within our care.

I use the behavior of foraging to help modify behavior issues or concerns with all of my animals, especially the parrots. The behavior of foraging is shaped, like many other behaviors and can be taught to the birds in we care for. I have a Moluccan Cockatoo named Rocky whom I brought in from a shelter almost seven years ago. Rocky came to me with many behavioral issues and one of them was screaming an ear-piercing scream every four seconds. This would go on for hours. There were a few different approaches I took to eradicate the scream, including teaching him how to forage. With the shaping of foraging, Rocky is now one of the most well-behaved parrots I have and he has about eight foraging stations within his cage.

Firstly, I looked to see if I could determine the underlying reinforcer for Rocky’s screaming behavior. After observing, listening and interacting, I found that he wanted attention more than anything and this was the main reason for his screaming. I am almost positive this was one of the top reasons he lost his former home. I was told it was because of his aggressive behaviors but his screaming was obviously a behavior also well-practiced. For the first few weeks Rocky was in my care, I never observed him playing with toys. This makes a situation more difficult to change if the bird doesn’t interact with objects inside his cage. Two things inside his cage with which he did interact however were his food and water. Bingo! This gave me the perfect place to start.

I began watching what food parts, pieces and shapes Rocky would pick out of his dish first. I also tried to incorporate new food items. I started with a food item that was not a main source of his nutrition and one that appeared to be his favorite. I placed a small foraging toy next to his food dish. The toy was transparent so the food item was extremely visible to Rocky. The toy being transparent is not a necessity but the food item being clearly visible is. This foraging toy was also extremely simple so it would not take much effort for Rocky to retrieve his favored food item. When Rocky leaned in for food from the food dish, the favored food item was at eye level and within clear and obvious reach with a turn of his head and an opening of the beak. It did not take long before Rocky was turning his head slightly for the favored food item. When his beak touched the acrylic toy, guess what I heard? I heard his beak touching it. This was when I delivered the bridge by saying “Good!” and delivered the reinforcer, my attention. Obviously, if the screaming started, I ignored it. The next time I heard his beak touch the acrylic toy, I would immediately go to the cage and deliver his much valued attention from me in a process known as differential reinforcement. I observed Rocky learning through contingency that the behavior of foraging brought the reinforcer and not the previously trained behavior of screaming.

As his behavior of foraging and learning to work for his food increased, so did the complexity of the toy, the location of the toy and the type of food hidden in each. At night I would stock all of his foraging toys and in the morning he would wake up spending much of his time navigating his cage to find all of the goodies stashed in different toys. Soon I was sleeping in until nine in the morning before I heard any vocalizations from Rocky.

One of many fascinating things to watch as a bird begins to learn or explore their cage with foraging is how they begin to prefer foraging for the food in their foraging toys and start abandoning the bowl. As the bird begins increasing in levels of complexity in toys, you can replace the treats in the foraging toys with his main diet while increasing your use of treats as reinforcers for other training. Provide the main staple in both locations — the toy and the dish — while ensuring the bird gets all his daily needed and proper nutrition. Once you clearly observe this, get rid of the bowl.

When a bird chooses to work for his food, such as searching for food in the foraging toy versus taking identical free food from places requiring less effort, there is a name for this in the field of behavior: contra freeloading. It is fun to watch. It is only called contra freeloading though if the food is identical and if the animal is choosing to work for the food versus taking the food that requires less effort (Inglis, Forkman & Lazarus 1997). There are many studies on this covering a wide variety of animals and numerous different theories have been developed as to why the animals choose to work for their food versus taking the identical free food. Could it be “the thrill of the chase?” I have personally observed this with several animals I have worked with, ranging from parrots, vultures, dogs, rodents, fish and, currently, pigs.

Parrots are claimed to be one of the most intelligent birds by many who research them. Keeping an intelligent mind occupied can have a profound effect on desirable and undesirable behaviors. Providing natural ways for our birds to forage for their food is a great way to provide mental and physical stimulation in ways their bodies are designed to attain or solve. Hopefully, their lives under our care also lack predators such as hawks, cars etc. Much of a parrot’s life in the wild is spent watching out for predators and surviving from day to day. If this natural behavior is taken away, what behavior should we try and replace it with as pets in our households or educational programs? This major replacement of activity is one area where we could begin incorporating small and solvable increases in complexities to occupy their time. I incorporate many individually appropriate increases in challenges and complexities into their environments by way of toys, foraging and cage set-up. I mention “individually appropriate” because what one bird may be able to solve, the one in the cage next to him may not yet be at a level required to understand.

Another very important factor is to keep the challenges solvable for the individual bird (Meehan & Mench 2007). If a bird is consistently faced with an unsolvable toy, frustration levels can escalate and undesirable behavioral issues could unknowingly be created. It can be a delicate balance in providing the appropriate challenge level while keeping the task solvable for the bird. It does not take long to find that balance in observing a bird with their toys and food incorporated. Once you find it, you can then take the small steps necessary in continuing to build their individual levels of challenges. You will soon see their opportunity to mentally engage becomes the reinforcer.

References
Inglis, I.R., Forkman, B. & Lazarus, J. Free Food or Earned Food? A Fuzzy Model of Contra Freeloading (1997) Association for the Study of Animal Behavior 53, 1171-1191
Meehan, C.L. & Mench, J.A. The Challenge of Challenge: Can Problem Solving Opportunities Enhance Animal Welfare? (2007) Applied Animal Behavior Science 102, 246-261

This article first appeared in BARKS from the Guild, October 2014, pp.53-54.

About the Author
Lara Joseph is the owner of The Animal Behavior Center, an international, educational center in Sylvania, Ohio focusing on teaching people how to live, love, and work with animals using positive reinforcement and approaches in Applied Behavior Analysis. She is a professional animal behavior consultant and trainer with a focus on exotics and travels internationally giving workshops, lectures, and provides online, live-streaming learning programs on behavior, training, and enrichment. Her focus is on behavior and training with all species of animals whether in the home, shelter, zoo, or educational ambassador. She sits on the advisory board for All Species Consulting, The Indonesian Parrot Project, Collaboration for Avian Welfare, and is the director of animal training for Nature’s Nursery, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Whitehouse, Ohio. She is also the founder of several animal organizations for animal welfare and has much experience working with special needs animals. She is a published author and writes regularly for several periodicals and also blogs for Deaf Dogs Rock. She has also been asked to co-author and is currently working on an international manual of animal behavior and training. She is a guest lecturer in Zoo Biology; Animal Nutrition, Behavior and Diagnostics taught by Dr. Jason Crean at St. Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois.

Injured Stray Wanders Through Open Door & Finds Her Forever Home

In a whirlwind few days, a starving stray dog went from living a difficult life on the streets of Philadelphia to becoming a beloved internet star with a family. It’s all thanks to a door that blew open during a storm and the man who later closed it. In that time, the dog sought shelter in the home she would later occupy for life. She just didn’t know it yet.

The pup’s adventure began with a simple, straightforward tweet from Jack Jokinen on December 14th. Along with a photo of her were just the words:

“I just woke up to this puppy in my house and we have no idea how it got here.”

Naturally Jokinen and his wife Emily were confused. All the doors in the house were closed. Their baby was fine, and no one else was there.

A security video revealed the family’s back door had been left unlocked accidentally and the dog simply wandered inside when a storm blew it open, around 3am. Amazingly, the footage shows a neighbor noticing the open door, trying to alert someone, and then closing it. But that kind stranger closed the wandering stray dog inside, not knowing she didn’t live there.

@JJFromTheBronx/Twitter

Jokinen told Today there could have been many things that drew her to their house.

“We don’t know if it was the light, the warmth, smelling [our other dog] George, that she came in the house, and then she went out of it, and kind of on our porch, and then she was in the house.”

The confused dog “was scared, limping, and malnourished.” Jack and his wife had reservations about dropping a sick stray off with animal control. They decided to take her care into their own hands.

@suzynpupman/Instagram

JJ continued to update Twitter on the dog they named “Suzy” as more and more fans tuned in. He took her to the animal hospital to get checked out. The poor girl had a lot going on. She had fleas and ticks, dental problems, and injured paw pads.

@JJFromTheBronx/Twitter

She also weighed only 19 pounds when she should weigh between 35 and 40 pounds. Because Suzy is so small, she looked like a puppy. It turned out that this was no puppy- she’s actually between 7 and 9 years old.

Suzy was scanned and had no microchip. At this point in the Twitter thread, people started to say the dog pretty much belonged to the Jokinens. Many even chipped in with donations towards Suzy’s care. Via Venmo, they raised over $15,000. Jokinen hopes it won’t actually cost that much, and the couple plans to donate all excess to an undetermined charity.

In the end, it was fated for Suzy’s adopters to be the ones who discovered her in their living room. Her rescue was ultimately a team effort, Jokinen said.

“It’s the holiday season and it’s not about us, it’s about this dog that people have found faith in. It’s about this guy Steve, who walked past my house and decided not to take my wife’s wallet but to close the door. We’re simply the vessel of this story, and anything we do to keep it going and spread the awareness that there are good people out there … Suzy is not really our dog. She’s kind of the Internet’s dog at this point.”

There’s a lot more detail to the thread including extra pictures and videos, so definitely give it all a read!

How Is Suzy Doing Now?

Thankfully, Jokinen is pretty active on Twitter, so we’re getting plenty of updates. Now that she’s getting treatment and proper warmth and feeding, Suzy is already doing infinitely better than she was days ago. Right now they’re working on getting her weight up.

“A pupdate on how Suzy is healing up. She is filling out more and more, but we have to take it slow. She stays off her injured leg most of the time but is getting more comfortable with it.”

@JJFromTheBronx/Twitter

She’s getting more comfortable in her home. She also gets along great with the human baby!

You know Suzy’s really made it by the fact that she’s on Instagram. She’s also on Facebook.

Thank God she found the right door that day!

H/T: Today

Featured Image: @suzynpupman/Instagram

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91 Dogs Take Cross-Country Flight For Second Chances

Life is going to change for the better this week for nearly 100 shelter dogs. Their holiday miracle came in the shape of an airplane! These lucky dogs took flight this week from North Texas to various shelters across the United States. The goal is to find them their furever families, and these patient pups certainly deserve it!

Flights To Freedom For Nearly 100 Deserving Doggos

According to nbcdfw.com, 91 dogs left Dallas-Fort Worth Airport this week with destinations in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Their fate was changed by the kindness offered to them from the Society for Companion Animals. The rescue is based in the Dallas-Fort Worth area but they help dogs all over Texas. Their motto is, “Flying Pets To New Homes” and that’s exactly what they do! In an effort to reduce euthanasia across Texas, the Society for Companion Animals transports dogs in need to shelters across the country where they may have a better chance of getting adopted.

The rescue is unique because they don’t adopt dogs out themselves. Instead, they take on the financial responsibility for flying deserving doggies to their new digs. They also strive to provide medical care for the furbabies who are most in need of it. While many shelters and rescues don’t give sick or injured dogs a second chance, the Society for Companion Animals gives them the love and care they need. They aren’t afraid to take on any case no matter the cost or level of care that is needed.

Incredible Outreach Fueled Solely By Donations

The Society for Companion Animals rescues 500 animals every year! What’s even more amazing is that they rely solely on donations. With the help of dog lovers throughout the country, and partnerships with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, they are able to make an immeasurable difference. According to their website, a minimum of $32,000 is needed each year just for transport, though that number is often much higher when it’s all said and done. Other expenses include an annual average of $20,000 for medical costs and nearly $16,000 for boarding.

@SocietyForCompanionAnimals/Facebook

The 91 dogs who received their flight to freedom this week came from all over Texas. The lucky dogs came in all shapes and sizes, young and old, big and small. Love knows no bounds at the Society for Companion Animals, and that’s exactly what they want to convey.

If you live in Texas and are interested in helping out, you can foster dogs the night before their flight and transport them to the airport. Long term fosters and various transports to vet appointments and boarding are also needed. And, if you’re handy, you can assemble crates and ensure a safe, cozy, ride. For a full list of ways you can help, click here.

h/t: nbcdfw.com
Featured Photo: @SocietyForCompanionAnimals/Facebook

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Mat Training Tips

Mat training – teaching your dog to go lie down on her mat on cue, and stay there – sounds pretty simple, and in fact, it is. Not only is it a simple behavior to teach, it’s incredibly useful for a variety of different training challenges. You can use it to teach your dog polite greetings, park her calmly in public or at your training class, increase her confidence in novel situations, send her to her mat in any room in the house, give yourself a break from attention-seeking behavior, defuse tension between two dogs, move her away from a guarded resource, and much more.

It’s a bit of a wonder, then, that more humans don’t teach their dogs this simple behavior. If we’ve grabbed your attention and interest, read on to find out how you can teach your dog.

12 Steps to a “Place” Mat

A place mat is any portable rug, bed, or blanket that you can easily take with you anywhere you go with your dog, and that you will teach your dog to lie down on, on cue. The more comfortable the mat, the easier your training task will be – she will want to lie down on it. 

When teaching this behavior, it helps to use a brand-new bed, mat, or blanket. Make a big fuss over it; admire it with enthusiasm, until your dog feels compelled to check it out, too.

To train this behavior, it’s a good idea to start with a brand new rug, bed, or blanket – one your dog has never seen or used before. It’s not critical, but once she understands the exercise, she will recognize it as her special “go to your place” mat. Here’s how to train the behavior:

1. Hold your dog’s new mat and show great interest in it – examine it, exclaim over it, sniff it – until your dog shows interest in what you are doing.

2. Have a handy supply of medium-value treats and a supply of high-value treats ready. Be prepared to mark with a clicker or verbal marker. When your dog looks at, sniffs, or otherwise shows interest in the mat, use your marker (click! or “Yes!”) and place a medium-value treat on the mat for your dog.

“Shaping” encourages your dog to offer lots of different behaviors. You’re going to reinforce increasingly closer and closer approximations of the behavior you really want.

3. Continue to mark for any mat-related behaviors that your dog offers – except for grabbing it! – placing a medium-value treat on the mat each time you mark. 

4. If you have used shaping in your training before and your dog is shaping-savvy, she is likely to quickly start offering a variety of behaviors. If she offers any on-the-mat behaviors (let’s call them OTMBs for short), use your marker and put a medium-value treat on the mat. But if she offers to lie down on the mat, use your marker and give her a high-value treat on the mat. Any other offered OTMBs continue to get medium-value treats.

At first, use a marker (such as the click of a clicker or a verbal “Yes!”) when your dog interacts with the mat in any way; then quickly deliver a medium-value treat on the mat.

5. If your dog is not savvy about shaping, continue to mark any OTMBs, but occasionally, randomly use your “Down” cue to ask her to lay down on the mat. When she does, mark and give her a high-value treat.

6. After you have given her a cue, marked it, and given her a treat for a half-dozen or so Downs interspersed with her other offered behaviors, pause for several seconds; see if she chooses to offer you a down when she doesn’t get marked for any other behavior. If she does, mark and feed her several high-value treats. Jackpot! If she doesn’t, go back to marking any OTMBs, interspersing random downs. Deliver a medium-treat for other behaviors and a high-value treats for downs.

At first, Minnie offered sit after sit; this is a behavior that dogs often use as a polite “default” – something to do when they don’t know what else to do. She’s a little stuck.

7. Repeat steps 6 and 7 until your dog begins offering downs during your pauses. Your dog is learning that any on-the-mat behavior is rewardable, but downs get the better rewards. She should soon begin offering only downs on the mat, even though other behaviors will still be getting medium rewards.

8. Now give your dog a release cue, move a few steps away from the mat, and invite your dog to follow you. When she does, stand quietly and ignore her – no marking, treating or praising. Most dogs will return to the mat to prompt you for more marks and treats. If your dog steps on to the mat, start marking and treating, again, using medium-value treats for any behavior and high-value treats for downs. Do not hold out for downs! At this juncture, you are reinforcing her for returning to the mat. Downs are great if they happen, but remember to reward any OTMBs.

Minnie eagerly complies with a verbal cue for “down.” Click and high-value treat! After a few cued downs and more high-value treats, Minnie gets it: “down” pays better!

9. Repeat step 8 numerous times. Each time you give a release cue and step away from the mat, go a step or two farther away. You are teaching your dog to go to her mat from greater distances. By now she is likely returning to the mat and immediately lying down. If she is not, go back to occasionally, randomly holding out for downs. Remember, only the downs get high-value treats.

10. When your dog is consistent about quickly returning and lying down on the mat each time, you can start adding duration for the down-on-mat behavior. Increase the amount of time in small increments – just a few seconds at a time. 

If at any time your dog gets off the mat before you give your release cue, pick up the mat and ignore her for a minute, then place the mat down and try again. If she gets up several times in a row, you have increased duration too quickly – go back to a shorter duration and work your way up again. (For tips on increasing the duration of the “stay” behavior, see “Stay Happy,” WDJ November 2012.)

11. When your dog will go to her mat and lie quietly on it for an extended period of time, you can add your cue. Use whatever cue you like – perhaps just the word “Place!” Practice sending her to her “Place” from increasingly longer distances, and eventually from anywhere in the house.

Now, move farther from the mat and invite your dog to follow you. Then stand quietly and give no cues. Mark and reward your dog if she returns to the mat; don’t hold out for a down.

12. Finally, you need to add distractions and generalize the behavior. Practice sending your dog to her mat in the face of kindergarten-level distractions – jump once, jump twice, clap your hands…. Gradually work up to college level, where you can send her to her mat even with kids running through the house or while food is being prepared in the kitchen. 

Eventually, if you keep practicing, she should be able to go to her mat on cue at the Ph.D. level – when the doorbell rings, visitors enter, or during any other exciting situation.

Depending on your dog and her level of training, you might accomplish your mat training project in just a few sessions. If your dog is still working on basic good manners or has difficulty with impulse control, it could take longer. In any case, it’s well worth the effort. 

What’s your place?

You can see that there are lots of valuable applications for this simple behavior. I’m willing to bet that many of you WDJ readers have already found good uses for mat training. We’d love to see yours on our Facebook page, and maybe we’ll even print a few in a future issue. Ready, set, place! 

The post Mat Training Tips appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

Do The Work To Keep Your Dog Comfortable During New Experiences

In November, I went to a seminar about dog behavior and training and, for the first time in my life, brought a dog so I could participate in a “working dog” spot (take a turn having the instructor teach us something). The experience entailed two full days in the car and five nights in a hotel. 

I have previously taken 4-year-old Woody for long road trips, camping trips, and to stay at friends’ houses. But he’s never stayed at a hotel before, and it presented him with a few new experiences. By and large, he was terrific: He was never tempted to pee on anything, he didn’t chew anything up or eat out of the trash, and he was happy to meet people who greeted him and calm about walking past people who didn’t. The most challenging thing for him at the hotel was hearing people walk down the hall past our room at night and not growling or barking; he seemed to be anxious about the strangers he could hear and smell but not see.  

To make sure my large, block-headed dog felt as relaxed and happy as possible about the whole experience – so that he looked obviously friendly – I had a treat pouch with me at all times, so I could mark and reinforce all of his good behavior. I also looked for spots in the hotel where we could get a little distance from the things that made him nervous and deliver enough treats to help change how he regarded the stimuli. At one point, for example, I wedged our hotel room door open, so he could see people walk by the open door; every time we heard a person coming or saw people walk by, I started delivering treats; when the people were out of view (or earshot), the treats stopped. After only a few passersby, he was looking to me eagerly when he heard or saw someone.

Anyway, I was thinking about the work I did with Woody when I was recently at an airport for holiday travel. I stepped out of a long line for coffee because I was actually afraid of a dog who was accompanying a man in line in front of me – a big, muscular, intact male dog with “fighting cropped” ears and wearing a choke chain. The dog looked uneasy and overstimulated (tightly tucked tail, panting, ears pinned back) and his owner was not only oblivious to the dog’s discomfort, he also was completely distracted with his coffee order and seemed unconcerned about the apprehensive looks that people near him were casting at him and his anxious dog. In my opinion, subjecting an unhabituated dog to such stress is not fair to your fellow travellers – and certainly not fair to the dog.

It’s a lot of work to habituate your dog to new experiences, but it is a critical responsibility if you are going to subject other people to them; no one should have to be afraid of your dog in public. 

The post Do The Work To Keep Your Dog Comfortable During New Experiences appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.

Tiny Two-Legged Puppy Has A Need For Speed In Her Custom Wheels

Loveyloaves cover

Lovey Loaves is a rescue dedicated to the rehabilitation of dogs with special needs. When the odds are stacked against these wonderful pups, Lovey Loaves swoops in and gives them the care they need to succeed. With a record of transforming an array of incredible canines, it’s no wonder this organization was the first to hear of a tiny two-legged puppy that could benefit from their expertise.

noelle
LoveyLoaves/Instagram

Cheri Wells of the Lovey Loaves Rescue was contacted on the night before Christmas Eve with a dire plea for help. A puppy was with only her two back legs, and her mother was beginning to push her away for feedings. Being only 2 weeks old, this tiny puppy needed immediate help if she was going to survive.

noelle
LoveyLoaves/Instagram

Lovey Loaves agreed to take on the small puppy, and were blown away by how small she actually was. She was no bigger than the palm of Cheri’s hand, and required around the clock feedings. Cheri and her husband Ward were in for a challenge. They named the tiny puppy Noelle in honor of their new Christmas miracle, and vowed to do whatever it took to help her thrive.

As the weeks went on Noelle grew stronger and stronger. She began to push herself around on her two back legs and was beginning to learn how to scoot herself around. Though she could move small distances, Cheri and Ward knew this wasn’t enough. They knew it was time to put her in her very own wheelchair, just like many of the other disabled pups in their home. With being involved in events such as The Wheels on Wallstreet with other rescues that focus on handicapped pets, they were able to invest in a custom set of wheels from Eddie’s Wheels for this deserving girl.

noelle
LoveyLoaves/Instagram

Once the wheels arrived, Noelle was not immediately thrilled. She spent the first few days just sitting in her wheelchair, unsure of what to do next. Though Noelle did not immediately take to her wheelchair, Cheri and Ward remained patient and helped the tiny pup adjust to her life on wheels.

noelle
LoveyLoaves/Instagram

“Noëlle’s not doing much yet. She’s mostly sitting, chillin’, taking it in and getting used to the feel of it. Treats enticed a few steps out of her but she didn’t go racing down the block. It’s a work in progress, but man oh man it’s pawsitively PAWSOME to see her in a cart!” – Lovey Loaves Instagram

Before they knew it, Noelle was flying around the yard in her custom cart. It’s as if she could finally live the life she always wanted to live, and she was living it to the fullest!

noelle
LoveyLoaves/Instagram

Now a days you can find an array of videos that feature Noelle cruising around her yard and proving to the world that your differences do not make you defective. With Lovey Loaves on her side, we have no doubt that Noelle will continue to inspire the world!

Thank you Lovey Loaves for the hard work and dedication you put in for the disabled dogs of the world!

H/T: thedodo.com
Image Source: LoveyLoaves/Instagram

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Do The Work To Keep Your Dog Comfortable During New Experiences

In November, I went to a seminar about dog behavior and training and, for the first time in my life, brought a dog so I could participate in a “working dog” spot (take a turn having the instructor teach us something). The experience entailed two full days in the car and five nights in a hotel. 

I have previously taken 4-year-old Woody for long road trips, camping trips, and to stay at friends’ houses. But he’s never stayed at a hotel before, and it presented him with a few new experiences. By and large, he was terrific: He was never tempted to pee on anything, he didn’t chew anything up or eat out of the trash, and he was happy to meet people who greeted him and calm about walking past people who didn’t. The most challenging thing for him at the hotel was hearing people walk down the hall past our room at night and not growling or barking; he seemed to be anxious about the strangers he could hear and smell but not see.  

To make sure my large, block-headed dog felt as relaxed and happy as possible about the whole experience – so that he looked obviously friendly – I had a treat pouch with me at all times, so I could mark and reinforce all of his good behavior. I also looked for spots in the hotel where we could get a little distance from the things that made him nervous and deliver enough treats to help change how he regarded the stimuli. At one point, for example, I wedged our hotel room door open, so he could see people walk by the open door; every time we heard a person coming or saw people walk by, I started delivering treats; when the people were out of view (or earshot), the treats stopped. After only a few passersby, he was looking to me eagerly when he heard or saw someone.

Anyway, I was thinking about the work I did with Woody when I was recently at an airport for holiday travel. I stepped out of a long line for coffee because I was actually afraid of a dog who was accompanying a man in line in front of me – a big, muscular, intact male dog with “fighting cropped” ears and wearing a choke chain. The dog looked uneasy and overstimulated (tightly tucked tail, panting, ears pinned back) and his owner was not only oblivious to the dog’s discomfort, he also was completely distracted with his coffee order and seemed unconcerned about the apprehensive looks that people near him were casting at him and his anxious dog. In my opinion, subjecting an unhabituated dog to such stress is not fair to your fellow travellers – and certainly not fair to the dog.

It’s a lot of work to habituate your dog to new experiences, but it is a critical responsibility if you are going to subject other people to them; no one should have to be afraid of your dog in public. 

The post Do The Work To Keep Your Dog Comfortable During New Experiences appeared first on Whole Dog Journal.