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Jim LaPratt

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Everything posted by Jim LaPratt

  1. I think this may be the winner, congrats. (Can someone double check my math please)
  2. Look like 4254 is the number. Now to look back and see who the winner is.
  3. Good luck all! Drawing 3-31-2020 Here is a front and back view of Your Squirrel Cleaning Buddy.
  4. Get a subscription and enter for your chance to win.
  5. I found this good article about Squirrels here in Michigan. Squirrels.PDF
  6. Good article and good reason to maintain some diversity in our dogs.
  7. Jim LaPratt

    buffalo squirrel

    As I am out of squirrel now, I may have to try with some chicken.
  8. Now that there sounds like some good eats. I will reply when I try it down the road.
  9. INSTRUCTIONS: Cream together the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Mix in the sourdough starter and mashed bananas. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add the flour mixture to banana mixture and mix just until combined. Do not over-mix. Pour the batter into a parchment paper lined 9x5-inch bread pan. Bake at 350°F for 1-hour and 10-minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool completely prior to slicing.
  10. There is a pile of good info in this article.
  11. On this page we are walking through the steps one of our fellow hunters is going through with a litter of pups. He post's what is going on in the Message Board and we can all add our comments as to what is happening. Thanks Lavan for doing this. Folks, these puppies came sight the night of 7 Mar and morning of 8 Mar. 2001. There were 1 male and 4 females. The male is white with lemon trim, 1 female is white with lots of black, the rest is white with lemon trim. These aren't just yard dogs. Here is some of their pedigree. The dam is out of Wilkerson's Snow Ball. The sire is out of Cauley's Jay Bird. In Jay Bird's lineage is Swift Leggs, River Run J.D., Neff's Joe Boy, Sally, etc. This is a good line. Lets see if we can make a squirrel dog out of one of them. 8 Mar-Checked often to make sure every one was O.K. 9 Mar-Docked their tails. Hauled them around in the truck some 10 Mar-Checked on them several times to see if their tails were doing O.K. Moved the pups around some, made light noise, talked a good bit. 11 Mar-Same as 10 Mar. All is well, mother and missing tails. 12 Mar-Mother had scraped utter. Washed it with antibacterial soap, rinsed it good and put Neosporin ointment on it. Moved pup around. This is to get them used to being handled. Talked to them and made some noise. 13, 14,15 same as 12 16 Mar- Puppies still laying around. Utter looks good. Talked and made light noise. 17 March ( day 10 ) Lots of folks came be to look at the puppies today They didn't get as much sleep as they wanted. Every time we went to the dog pen we would have to wake them up. Almost every one wanted to pet them. They seemed to like the human contact. Two or three of them don't seem to like to be held up side down. They still like for their feet to be on something solid. Some don't seem to mind it. They got lot of human exposure today. The dam's utter is looking better every day. Suggestion: One thing I've always done when we've raised pups is to keep those toenails trimmed. I use regular fingernail clippers. it helps to keep dams utter from getting so scratched up from their constant pressing. I think she's willing to let them nurse till they're older also if they aren't hurting her. 18 March-Today was pretty much uneventful for the puppies. Two people came to look at the puppies. One of these men has first pick. I suggested that he wait until they were 6 weeks old to pick his. He can tell more about them then. He agreed. They were handled some. I took pictures of them like Lone Oak suggested. They should be on my web site by next week end. 20 Mar. 01 (day 13)(age-13 days) Rained most of the day. Did not want to get the puppies wet and cold. I have the top of the dog house hinged so I can open the top of the dog house. It makes it a lot easier to check the puppies, clean the house, etc. with this type top. Got the puppies out late, about dark, took them into the house. Had the TV. going for noise. We have 3 house dogs and they all had to check out the new puppies. Their eyes are almost completely open. They are trying to walk. Some are walking but they are real wobbly. We let them crawl around and over a squirrel skin. They did not take any interest in the skin but it may imprint on them some. We kelp them in the house about an hour or so. We made lots of noise and petted them a lot. We let the house dogs smell of them and root them around. This helps them get used to people and other dogs. These house dogs are all females and they act these are their puppies. They are all bench legged Feist. The puppies are all healthy and growing fast. The dam is doing good. For 22 Mar-- Went to pen a few times to pet the pups and talked to them. Made some noise each time. They seem to be use to noise. They like to be held. They are growing fast. Snow's puppies always do. They are walking pretty good now. For 23 Mar. (age 16 days) Spent quite a bit of time with the puppies today. Took them out of the dog house and let them walk around on the concrete. They didn't like that too much to start with but got use to it. Snow kelp trying to put them back in the house. She was worried about them. She sure is a good mother dog. For 24 Mar 01. Pretty day. We worked in the yard most of the day. Took the mother away from the puppies for a while. Turned her out and let her run. We petted and handled the puppies a lot. They like to be held. Noise don't seem to bother them any. I took a frozen squirrel skin out of the freezer to thaw out, we will put it in with the puppies this afternoon. Boy they are growing. Lone Oak got the pictures yesterday. They should be on my web site by tonight. For ===25 Mar 01 (Day 18) Age (18 days) Went by the dog pen and messed with the puppies a few times in the morning. Every time I look at the Puppies I tap on the side of the dog house with a pocket knife. I tap real easy as to not scare the puppies but to get them use to noise. I will tap harder as they get older. If you noticed on my web site, the top of the dog house opens up. Sunday afternoon Christine brought the puppies into the house. The TV. was on. I turned it up some and let the puppies listen to the races for a while then changed to other channels. This will help them get use to the outside world. They can get around pretty good but most of it is by pushing with their back feet. The black and white one is going good. We held and petted them a lot. Suggestion Lavan I bought a Gunshot Tape from Nite-Lite #C-30 $9.99. It is a shot gun being fired and you can play it as loud as you want on the tape player. I start feeding my pups gruel made of puppy chow and calf milk replacer and water mixed in a blender when they are 2 weeks old. I feed them 3 times a day and every time I feed them I play the tape.....starting off on low volume and as they get older I increase the volume. It sure helps to keep from having gun-shy pups. I sometimes turn the tape player off and turn the radio on low and just leave it on until I feed them again. I'm like you....I believe the more strange sounds the pups encounter the more rounded dog they make. Suggestion A particle of training for my pups at early stage is to teach them to recognize me by sound and scent. Sound-talk to them in different tones, calling them to you, no ,stay, whistle to call them. Scent- each time I go around them I greet them by talk and take off my cap and let each one smell my cap, let them play some with it. I will take an old shirt, wear it about half a day then put it in with their bedding. Suggestion I LIKE TO GET IN THE PEN WITH THE PUPS AND CLAP AND RATTLE THE FEED PANS AS I CATCH THEM & PET THEM. AFTER A LITTLE OF THIS THEY WILL COME A RUNNING WHEN THEY HEAR YOU CLAP. START OUT EASY AND WORK YOUR WAY UP TO A GOOD COMMOTION. A PUP IS LIKE A KID THEY LIKE YOUR ATTENTION. For 26 Mar. 01 (day 19) (Age 19 days) Wasn't able to work with them any today. For Tues. 27 Mar 01 (Day 20) (Age 20 Days) Still running behind. Sorry. Let me back up a bit. On Sat. 24 Mar. when the puppies were 17 days old we gave them NEMEX-2. This should be given at 2,3,4,6,8 and 10 weeks of age. I am running a week behind on this. The dam should be treated at 2-3 weeks after the puppies are born. Sorry about not posting that. Christine will keep me straight. Turned the dam out to run a while. Took the puppies out of the dog house and let them crawl/walk around the dog pen. They stayed out for about an hour. They are moving around better now. I wish I could send everyone a movie of them. I made a lot of noise, talked a lot etc. They don't seem to be effected by the noise. Reddog said he uses a tape of gun shots to play to his puppies. He said he turns the volume up as they get older. This sound like a great idea to me. Reddog said it works good for him. Nothing beats success. Thanks Reddog. I am going to order the tape. For Wed. 28 Mar 01 (Day 21) (Age 21 days) The neighbor's kid and some of her friends came over today to see the puppies. They carried them around and petted them a lot. They let them crawl and walk around the car port. The mother dog (Snow) was out running around. They played with the puppies for a long time. Snow got worried and started taking them back to the dog house so we put them up. For Thurs. 29 Mar 01 (day 22)(age 22 days) Rained all day. Checked the puppies 2 times. Didn't do anything else. For Fri.30 Mar. 01 (Day 23)(Age 23 days) Caught up on hunny dos and went to AL. today. I took Cody home after him breeding Little Bit Too. I took Dan too. Had a great visit with DeLane and Mack Ledbetter. DeLane is going to work with Dam in the woods this Summer. I have gone as far as I can go with him in the yard. He was treeing hard from the pen at 3 1/2 months old. Petted the puppies before I left and after I got back. Didn't do anything else with them to day. Tomorrow will be a big day for them. Sunday 1 Apr.01 (day 25)(age 25 days) The last two days have been busy for the puppies. We made a ramp for them to get in and out of the dog house yesterday. The dog house door is about 3" off the ground. They started going in and out real quick. They go outside to use the bathroom now. We have petted and messed with them so much that they will whine when they hear a human voice. They will whine until they are picked up. If they are in the dog house & hear someone talking they will all come outside. They stated eating Saturday, We have been feeding them twice a day. We have been feeding them canned Pedigree Puppy Food. They are eating good now. They are growing real fast. I want to send Lil-Lone some more pictures this week so he can put them on the web site. Thanks a lot to Lil-Lone for his help. Thanks a lot to Lone Tree for the board also. For Monday 2 Apr. 01 (Day 26) (Age 26 Day) Lee (A.K.A. Buddy) came up from Dallas, GA. today. We walked around the yard a lot with his 5 month old puppy, Buddy. Buddy chased lots of squirrels. He treed one and timbered it to a nest. Real good for a 5 month old puppy. Got the puppies out in the afternoon and brought them into the house. I put them on a drop cloth when I bring them in. I played with them a lot. Had the TV. going real loud. They love to be petted. Put a dead squirrel on the floor with them. They rooted it around some. They like human contact. I call puppies by saying( chepo, chrpo, chepo) over and over. I will say it and pull a puppy to me. One will come when I say it mow. I talk and they will start looking for me. They are walking real good now. I am still feeding them caned Pedigree Puppy food. Reddog feeds his puppies a mixture that I like and am going to try it on these puppies. He mixes 1/2 Puppy Chow with 1/2 milk replacer, puts it in a blender, adds water to make a mush. He feeds this to his puppies. It works real good. These puppies are trying to eat Puppy Chow now. NOTE: I start feeding the mother dog Puppy Chow as soon as the puppies are born. She never gets sucked down. Her weight always stays normal. Put the puppies back. Tuesday 3 Apr. 01 (day 27)(Age 27 days) Raining to day. A friend came over and wanted to ride over to the hunting land. We went and in about an hour we saw 6 gobblers and 14 deer. He liked that. Almost put me back to turkey hunting. After we got back I fed the puppies and waited a while to bring them into the house. (waiting cuts down on clean up.) They stayed in the house most of the afternoon. They would explore a while, play a while and sleep a while. While they are sleeping they remind me of a post that T.W. put up one time. They dream a lot when they are puppies. It is hard to tell if they are running from a bear or chasing a rabbit. They make lots of different noises and kick and move a lot. This is about the time when they start tugging at your heart strings. Sorry. Back to training. I turned the TV. down and talk to them a lot. I get down on the floor and play with them. I have talked and played with them so much that their tails go 90 miles an hour when they hear my voice. I put a dead squirrel on the floor with them for a while when they wake up. They will push it around some. I don't leave it down long at the time. 3 of them will come to me now when I make that (chepo, chepo, chepo) noise. NOTE: They don't understand words. Any noise you make will work as long as it is the same every time and they associate with being petted. They like to crawl around on me. This is a good way to get the puppies socialized. Took them back to the pen. Day 28 was a repeat of day 27. Thursday, April 5,age 29 days. About the same as Tues. They love people & are coming real good when I call them. I can go out of the house & yell for them & all of them will come out of the dog house & raise a lot of noise for me to take them out of the pen. I open the gate & they are all over me. They play with the dead squirrel a lot more now. I was looking in the freezer to see how many squirrels I have frozen. I have mostly skins. They will work about as good as the whole squirrel. They are eating good. I am mixing canned puppy food with dry Puppy Chow that has been socked in water. They are starting to eat dry puppy chow but they have to chew it a long time. Their teeth are real small. I put them out in the yard for a while Thurs. They seemed to like that. They won't get far from me though. Snow takes off when I open the gate. She will run a while before she comes back I leave them out a long time each morning & afternoon. Fri.Apr.06 (day 30) Age 30 days) Did not get a chance to work with them any today. Sat.Apr.07 (Day 31) (age 31 days) Put them in the yard today. They ran around a good bit but they won't get far from me. Washed their pen out. Let them stay in the yard long enough for the pen to dry out. Talked to them & made lots of racket. I bang their food pan every time I go to the pen. It is a round cookie sheet, boy is it loud. Man they are eating good. They played with a squirrel skin today. They are taking up more time with the squirrel each time. Sun.Apr.08 (age 32 days) Still feeding them twice a day. Mixing more & more Puppy Chow with the canned food. Didn't take them out of the pen today. Went into the pen & petted them a few times. Banged their food pan each time I went into the pen. They are eating real good now. Plan to take the mother out of the pen about Wednesday. Monday, April 09(Age 33 days) Had company today. Allen Culpepper came up with his kids to build a dog house for his new puppy & to let the kids play with their new puppy. They are getting her next weekend. The kids played with the puppies most of the day. Boy, these puppies like people. They cry & bark when we leave them in the pen. They want to be with us. We ran saws & nail guns around their puppy & she didn't notice it. They aren't getting much food from the mama dog now. They are eating good. They are still sleeping a lot. Tues., April 10( Age 34 days) Took mama dog out of the pen to feed the puppies. They eat good. They stayed out most of the day. I took them to town 2 times they don't mind riding. I worked on a dog pen most of the day. It takes a lot longer when you have 5, 5 week old puppies helping you. Man you have to be careful. You have to hunt puppies a lot too. They will wonder off on you. Snow went hunting but the puppies didn't try to go with her. They will come running now when I call them. I call them pretty often & pet them & play with them when they get to me. They like that. I put them in the pen to feed them, man you should have heard that. They let me know they wanted out. It sound like 20 puppies. Put the mother dog back in with them for the night. Wed. Apr 11 (age 35 days) Took the mother dog across the street. The puppies can't see her over there. With me taking the mother out of the pen every day they get use to not having her in the pen. They didn't seem to miss her. They didn't whine or bark for her. About dark they went into the dog house and was quite. If the mother is with them all the time they seem to miss her more when she is removed. The mother seemed more anxious than the puppies. I played with them a lot. They are biting and pulling on the squirrel skin more and more. I took another skin out of the freezer today. They are eating good now. They seem to like Puppy Chow better than the soft food now. Boy they like people. You don't have to call them any more, Just make a noise and here they come. They like the yard much better than the pen. They try to check out everything. Thurs. Apr. 12 (Age 37days) Pretty much a repeat of yesterday. Christine turned them out when she got home. You should have seen them pulling on her pants legs. She was dragging them all over the yard. They went with her to check out the fish and flowers. Fed them two time today. They didn't eat much of it. They have a self feeder in the pen and they eat out of it most of the time. Still growing real fast. Fri. Apr. 13(Age 37 days) Rained most of the day. Fed and played with them some. That is about it for today. Sat. Apr.14 (Age 38 days) Let them be house dogs today. The grandson was here and the neighbors came over. Everyone played with the puppies. They will all come when you call them. They like to be on people. They played with the squirrel skin a lot. They will shake it like they are trying to kill it. Everyone get a kick out of that. They will fight over the squirrel skin now. We have to watch them real close though. They sure aren't house broke yet. When they start going in a circle you better take them out side. We call that the poopy walk. Still growing fast. Man, they are a lot of fun at this age. Sunday, April 15 (age 39 days) The puppies were out most of the afternoon. They get into everything. The neighbors came over & we brought them into the house. They like to be petted & played with. They like to pull your hair. I can't afford to lose any more hair. The neighbor's little girl stayed in the floor with them a lot. They played with the squirrel skin and chew toy a lot. They will shake the squirrel skin & growl real mean. They act like they are trying to kill the squirrel skin. They will play a while, then sleep a while. We put them back in the pen before dark. Man, they didn't like that. They think they are house dogs. They barked & made a lot of noise. All of them will come when you call them. They went into their house & went to sleep. One of the females went to it's new home in Dawsonville, GA today. Monday, April 16 (age 40 days) Fed the puppies. Didn't have time to get them out today. Tuesday, April 17 (age 41 days) Took puppies for a ride to town in the cab of truck. They didn't cry, they were content riding. They ran around in the yard some this afternoon & came in the house for a few minutes. They all want to be petted at the same time, its hard to pet 4 puppies with 2 hands. They can get out of the pen quick, when you come out of the pen. Wed. Apr. 18 (Age 42 days) Had the light on in their house last night. It was cold. About 33 degrees. Brought them in the house early in the morning. They ran and played for a while, had a few fights, whipped all the grown dogs. Had all of them run up on the couch and love seat. We have a rope about a foot long with knots on each end, they love to play tug of war with that. After they ran down some I got out the squirrel skin. Man, they like that. They just pull and run with the rope but they growl and shake the squirrel skin. They act like they are trying to kill it. They play hard for a while and then they all take a nap. I put them back in the pen after a couple of hours. Went to lunch. Came back and got them out again. I let them run in the yard. I cut the grass with a riding mower. Man, that is tricky. After a while all the puppies want to help drive. Ever try to watch where you were going and keep an eye on 4 puppies. They sure get misplaced quick. All in all, they had a big day. Stayed out of the pen most of the day. Thurs. Apr. 19 (Age 43 days) Well, the black and white one went to her new home today. There was 5.........now there are 3. Mr. Allen Culpepper came and got her today. She was the runt of the bunch. I gave Allen a tape of me training some of my dogs. Allen is going to post the things he does with his puppy. She went to a good home. One of the 3 still here will go to VA. the 28th of May. Don't know yet when the others will go to their new homes. Didn't do much with them the rest of the day. Friday, April 20(Age 44 days) Didn't have time to play with puppies today. Saturday, April 21(Age 45 days) We had a couple to come by to see the puppies today. We let them run, play & get petted. They went with us to check out the goldfish pond at the back of our yard. The little male puppy was walking on the waterfall & slid off into the pond. He did a good job of swimming out. We let them out to play with the grown dogs, they were careful with the puppies when they played. Sunday, April 22(Age 46 days) We made a movie of the puppies today, to send to Lone Oak, Reddog, & the Denny from Virginia, who is getting one of the females. We let them chase the squirrel skin some for the movie, They really get after it. We also would call them from a distance & they would come running as fast as their little legs would carry them, across the back yard. They would leave Lavan & come to me when I called them & vise versa. They already like coming into the house. They run in with us when we come in if we aren't careful. Gave them their 1st 5 in 1 puppy shot today & worm medicine. Sat. Apr. 28th (age 52 days) Sorry I haven't posted this week. Been a busy week. Had a lot going on with D&R, and my stepdaughter is getting married today. Big wedding. I rode the puppies around in the truck (front seat) a few times this week. Took them to town so they could hear different sounds. I mowed the grass at their pen so they would get use to the sound of a motor close to them. Man, they didn't like that. They went in their house and peeped out. I cranked it up and parked it a few yards from their pen and just let it run at slow. After a while they didn't pay it any attention. I will keep doing that and moving it closer to their pen each day. I got them out a few times to play with the other dogs and to play with the squirrel skin. I will have more time after today. I will be back to the old routine after today. I know the puppies will like that. They are growing fast. God bless and Good hunting. Monday, April 30 (Age 54 days) Didn't do anything with the puppies yesterday. Cleaned up after the wedding. Today (Apr.30), turned the puppies out & played with them a long time, let them run down some. Brought them in the house for a while. They like to come in the house. Took them with us to fill the squirrel feeders. Spent a lot of time in the woods behind the house. Came back to the yard & played with the squirrel skin for a while. I have it on a pole with a string, like a fishing pole. They chased it around real good. I let them catch it pretty often. I Pulled it up a tree. They mill around & look at it but don't bark. They are looking up at it. Tues. May 1 (age 55 days) Puppies stayed out most of the day. They rambled some. I worry when they get out of sight. Sissy likes to take them hunting. The go out in the woods and look around. They smell strange smells and try to investigate it. They like the woods. I played with them with the squirrel skin a few times. I have to shut the older dogs up or they will run over the puppies. They don't like to be put back in the pen and boy do they express it. The whole neighborhood hears about it. Wed. May 2 (age 56 days) Worked across the street today. Didn't leave the puppies out much. I would take them out and play with them some and let them chase the squirrel skin. I did this a few times. I am pulling the skin up a tree every day. They still look up but don't bark. They will stand with both front feet on the tree. A little later, after they get some age on them I will start using the roll cage with Star helping them. She will get them started barking. Thurs & Fri May 3&4 Worked across the street all day, both days. Didn't work with the puppies. Did shoot the 22 some. Little Bit and Snow treed something that should be shot. About 200 yards from the pen. Sat. May 5th (age 59 days) Worked in the yard a lot today. The puppies were out a lot today. I shot the pump BB gun close to them a lot today. They didn't shy from it. Played with the skin some. They mostly just aggravated the big dogs. They get excited when the old dogs tree a squirrel. They go to the tree but can't figure out what all the fuss is about. They just mill around. I shot the 22 with CB caps after I put them in the pen. They just stood and looked at me. I was about 30 feet from them. That looks good. Called it a day. Sun. May 5 (age 60 days) Was gone all day. Didn't work with them. Sat. May 12 (age 66 days) Didn't work with the puppies much the first part of this week, just petted and played with them I turned them out to run and play every day. Thursday was the big day for them. I caught a squirrel & put it in a roll cage. The old dogs saw the rollcage and told everyone on this side of the county about it. All that racket & Commotion scared the puppies some. There was 9 dogs barking & jumping, trying to get to that squirrel. That was a mistake. That is too much excitement for puppies of that age. I put the roll cage in the pen with the puppies but they just smelled & looked at the squirrel. They didn't get after it much. There was just too much activity from the old dogs. Man, some of the old dogs go berserk when they see a squirrel. Fri. I put pieces of wieners in the grass in the yard. Then turned the puppies out. It was fun to watch them try to find the food. They can use their nose pretty good. This will improve with time and more wieners. Today I have a lot of activity myself. Planted some garden, did some honey do's that had become better do's, sold Sissy. That was hard to do. I hate to see a dog go even if it is best for the dog. Won't get a chance to work the puppies much. Wed. May 16 (age70 days) There were 5 puppies, then 4, then 3. Well now there are only 2. I will miss her for a while. She went to a good home where she will be hunted and be able to show her ability. I let them run out a lot this week and just be puppies. Worked a good bit with the drag. Worked on handling and manners a lot.
  12. Things to Consider before Buying That 1st Squirrel DogOne of the first decisions to make is deciding whether to buy a pup and training it yourself, or buying a "finished " dog already trained. A third choice, in between the 1st two, is buying a "started" dog.There's advantages and disadvantages to all three choices.Pup: The advantages are you get to see it develop and form a very close bond with you.Because of this 'bonding', it probably will handle better than the other two choices.You can correct any faults before they become a big problem. (You can teach an old dog new tricks; it just takes a lot longer.)Some disadvantages are you will have a relatively long wait before you can expect it to be a hunting companion. You'll incur many costs getting to that point: the initial cost of the pup, a series of puppy shots and worming, registration costs, a house shoe replacement bill, possible marriage counselor bills, or worse, a divorce lawyer fee. You'll possibly spend lots of money on gas, driving to an area where you can train it. But most likely the biggest cost will be - buying lots of dog food. And, after spending this initial money, you're still not guaranteed that it will turn out like you expected. But, if the dog does turn out like you hoped, this can be the most rewarding choice. After all, this dog will be a product of your love, care, and devotion to its success.Started: Probably the biggest question here is exactly what does the seller mean by "started"? How "started" is the dog? Does he mean the dog has started treeing a few squirrels on his own? Or has he treed with an experienced dog? Or has he been introduced to live squirrels in a cage? A squirrel hide? Or has the dog just been taken to the woods and allowed to 'run with the big dogs'? Obviously, if the dog is in the first category (Treeing a few squirrels on his own) he is going to be easier to train and will probably make a 'squirrel dog' much quicker than the other scenarios. He'll probably command a much higher price too, although some guys tack on several hundred dollars more to justify all the money they've already invested in the dog. Buying a 'started' dog can be a good way to go, especially if the seller just has to many dogs to work. But don't expect to get a world champion caliber 'started' dog for a bargain-basement price. If the dog was that good, he wouldn't be for sale.So a decision you'll need to make is whether the dog has enough potential to justify the seller's 'asking price'. If you're new at this dog-buying business, you'd be wise to take along an experienced dog man to help with your decision and keep an eye on your wallet. Make a list of questions you want to ask about the dog and make sure they get answered. I've gone to look at some dogs and felt like I was dealing with an auctioneer; I couldn't get a word in edge-wise between all the bragging the seller was spewing forth. In my greener days, I bought a dog from a man like this who practically had the dog loaded in my truck before I got out of it. If you have any doubts at all, tell the seller you'll think it over and get back with him.Finished: The advantage with this type of dog is you can hunt with him right away. A disadvantage is the relatively high cost (and risk of getting what you paid for).This classification of a dog also raises a lot of questions. How good of a "finished" dog is he? Just like "Started Dogs", there's degrees of how good a "Finished Dog" is. Just because a dog is in the classification of being finished doesn't necessarily mean the dog is an excellent hunter. He may be a 'good' hunter, but because of his genes, age and experience level, he's basically as good as he's going to get. A good dog handler may be able to improve the dog some, but they can't turn an average dog into a world champion.Like a "Started Dog", the more qualities the "Finished Dog" has will have a big impact on how much the dog will sell for. Age can have a big impact on how much the dog costs too. You may be able to get an older dog, past their prime, a lot cheaper. Many guys with big kennels will sell these dogs to make more room for 'up and coming' dogs. Just remember, these dogs probably won't be around a whole lot longer, so be sure to take that into account before buying one. Also, maybe the dog is a grade dog (not registered). These dogs will normally come cheaper than a registered dog. Again, before buying a "finished dog", if you're not sure what to look for, take along somebody who is.More on learning about squirrel dogs and what to look for.Decide what kind of dog you want: a Cur, Feist, other. Go to some of the Competition hunts if you can and ask to go along on some casts as a spectator. (Most guys won't mind you tagging along)Watch the dogs work and observe their different styles. Do they hunt close? Far away? I usually judge this by how far away they will tree and how often they 'check back in'. For coon hunting, a dog that trees 2 ridges over may be acceptable for some people, but for hunting squirrels, this isn't very desirable. Most squirrels will have 'timbered out' to a den-tree by the time you get to the dog. Coons will usually stay with the tree. I personally don't like walking ¾'s of a mile to a treed dog every time, even if he does have the game. Some people like a close-hunting dog, some like ones who range out farther. It's all a personal thing and if you go to a few of the Comp hunts, you'll eventually see both styles.Do the dogs use their eyes, ears and nose to locate game? This is a big advantage the Curs and Feists have over the hounds in most cases. If a dog suddenly stops and intently looks in a specific direction, it's very possible he thought he saw or heard a squirrel. Does he ever hold his head up high and test the air? Some dogs 'Wind' game in the air before they ever smell a track on the ground. This is a good attribute for a dog to have. Many times, a good 'winding' dog can locate and tree a squirrel that hasn't been on the ground in quite a while. When the squirrels haven't been stirring (on the ground) due to the weather conditions, a dog with this attribute is good to have along.By Dennis Clay Smith
  13. If I had to guess what the two biggest mistakes guys make when getting into the squirrel-dog sport (with a pup) it is:1) expecting way too much out of a pup too soon and overworking one to the point where the dog will lose total interest in treeing anything.Imagine a man with a two-year old boy trying to groom him to be an NFL quarterback. "That's ridiculous", you say! But that's what a lot of guys are doing to these pups. These pups are just that - PUPS, INFANTS, KIDS. The pup loses interest and doesn't respond and the guy thinks the pup is no good. GO EASY AND SLOW with a pup. Make a GAME out of PLAYING with a squirrel hide - AND - KEEP THE SESSION SHORT. STOP BEFORE the pups loses interest - NOT AFTER. As he gets older, increase the time of the sessions and make them more complex. BUT NEVER over do it. When starting out, take the pup to the woods and let him explore and play, and get what Reddog calls 'woods wise'.But even with that don't wear him out to the point it's not fun anymore. Don't take a 3 month old pup out and expect him to keep up with a grown dog all day! He's not ready for it.If the pup has good breeding, he'll eventually come around and make you proud - if you don't ruin him.I know how anxious guys are to get a pup going - so was I.2)Second mistake (I made this one too): shooting game out when a dog just Gets Up On The Tree WITHOUT BARKING. If the dog don't bark - he ISN'T Treed! I said to myself, "I'll just shoot this ONE out for him so he'll know that's what we're hunting for and to fire him up" If you start doing that, he may never bark treed! Be patient! If he gets up on the tree and shows interest and is excited and you can see the squirrel, by all means hiss the S### out of him, slap the tree, pull vines, whatever. If he barks, "Good-boy" him and hiss him some more. If he keeps it up (and has been conditioned to gun-fire) THEN shoot the squirrel out for him.You have to make a BIG DECISION when you take a young dog to the woods. A) Do I want to train this dog? - OR Do I want to shoot squirrels? If you chose leave the dog at home!Probably another mistake some will make is not conditioning the dog to gun fire before shooting around it. (That's a whole different article, and I'm all typed out for now.)I'm not trying to "rain on anybody's parade" or be a Mr-Know-It-All, because I Don't Know it all. Just trying to help some new guys avoid some of the mistakes I made.If you're too anxious to get going in the sport to let a pup mature and teach him the right way - buy one of these year-old dogs that guys are selling out of good breeding. Hopefully, they haven't 'burned' the dog out while he was young or made him gun-shy. Better yet, buy a dog that's already treeing. You'll be out some bucks up front, but if your patience is thin, you'll be way ahead in the long run.By Dennis Smith
  14. A lot of people believe a hunting dog belongs in the yard, on a chain or in a pen, or even just running around. We have several who live happily outside, but some of our favorites are also well-mannered house dogs.We have also noticed with our hunting dogs that the indoor dogs have bonded with us better then the dogs that do not live indoors and give us more in the woods, respond better to verbal commands, and understand what we want of the more quickly and easily.As a dog trainer, it amazes me how few house dogs are truly, reliably house trained. In addition to our Feist and Cur addiction, we also raise and train Dobermans, many going to guard and protect luxury homes, and it would absolutely unacceptable for them to have accidents!Contrary to popular belief, rubbing their noses in their mess is NOT the answer. It teaches them they CAN mess in the house, but we need to teach them that they can't.Teaching a dog or pup that messing in the house is "bad" is a step sideways. Teaching them that "outside" is where they must go to relieve themselves allows us to avoid correcting them for something they are going to do regardless as well as to avoid correcting a young pup we are trying to bond with and have learn to respond to us positively.The key to success is not allowing the accidents to happen, and preventing the start of an unacceptable behavior in the first place. Here is how to do it;First, go buy a crate! A size "400" should be appropriate for just about any but the very largest of Curs, and a "300" is appropriate for all adult Feists. You may prefer to start with a slightly smaller crate for a pup as they are less likely to soil ion a more confined area.A crate is not cruel.The puppies feel safe having a "den" of their own, especially when going to their new homes. (Human babies are put in playpens. This is comparable. No baby can safely have complete access to the entire house.)Crates double as "indoor doghouses" in many ways, and getting your puppy used to a crate will prove to be a wonderful convenience in the future. And the dogs LIKE having their own private space. Many of ours retreat to their crates voluntarily, especially in the evenings to sleep.Here are the rules to follow to successfully house train your puppy;1.) Remember that puppies under 12 weeks are not likely to be able to control themselves even if they don't like to soil their crates!2.) Lock your puppy in the crate at night and when you are not at home.3.) When you wake up or come home, take the puppy out of the crate and carryit outside to an appropriate area. When it "goes", praise it, show it what it did, and praise it some more. Bring it to the same area every time. Once it has the idea you can lead it on a leash, but to start out, pick it up so it has no opportunity to make a mistake.4.) Assuming it does 'go', bring the puppy in and offer food and water.5.) Take it back out in 15 minutes. If it "goes" again, you should be safe for about an hour. If not, retry every 15 minutes until it does. Be sure to lock it in the crate if you have to take your eyes off of it even for a minute! A lot of pups prefer to relieve themselves in private and will wonder off to a secluded corner to do so.6.) The puppy must be taken out every hour if it "goes" and every 15 minutes if it doesn't, AND be crated if you can not watch it closely. The success of this method relies upon the owner not allowing the puppy to make any mistakes.7.) Always allow your puppy the opportunity to relieve itself before being crated.8.) Do not give your puppy any water for at least 2 hours before being crated for any length of time or overnight. (We pick up the water at 5:00 P.M. in the winter and at 6 P.M. in the summer.)8.) Understand that if your puppy soils the crate repeatedly at first, that it probably was unable to wait and is still too young to control itself. (It should be able to by about 10 to 12 weeks.) Do not punish or discipline the puppy if it soils the crate. Act surprised (NOT angry!) that it would do such a thing, and carry it to the appropriate place.9.) Do not ever leave your puppy in the house unsupervised until it can be trusted!"Trust it" overnight before trusting it "home alone". Remember, they chew and teeth,too. It is reasonable to expect your puppy to be house trained acceptably by approximately 6 months. However, I still crate them when I will be gone until they are done teething! Generally, this is prior to one year of age with Feists and Curs (and 18 months or so with Dobermans).10.) Do not leave your puppy in the crate for very long periods of time. Overnight isfine, but if you must also leave for work in the morning, make sure the puppy has atleast a full hour of exercise in a fenced in area in between eating and being recrated.If possible, try to come home at lunch to take the puppy out, or have a friend orneighbor take the puppy out for you. If you can not arrange that, leave it outside until you come home.11.) Let your puppy learn that being in the house is a privilege, not a right, and teach them to appreciate the privilege. Puppies will go potty when they need to, but you can teach them where is appropriate and where is not. This is similar to teaching them not to chew. Puppies WILL chew, but they can easily learn to chew on their toys, not yours!If you follow these steps, house training your puppy will not be difficult. Do notallow it to make mistakes, and it won't. I have NEVER had anybody tell me that they had reliably and conscientiously followed this method and not been successful.Remember, it is much more difficult to correct an improper behavior than to teach a proper one.Lysa SeamanWhispering Woods Kennel And Training Center
  15. In most instances when talking is about dog training, it hinges on techniques and methods - the basics that are used to develop in the dog the habits and natural abilities that will enable it to do a good job. Dog psychology is touched upon but rarely trainer psychology - what makes the trainer 'tick'. I have met a number of good trainers, who all have their particular style even to the extent of allowing their dogs to do things that to the layman would appear totally taboo. But at the end of the day they come out with not only a good dog but a top dog. Perhaps we could learn more from studying the top trainers to develop in ourselves the necessary skills and qualities to succeed in training a dog.A good trainer has a compound of qualities which are strongly inter-related, experience, knowledge, patience, natural affinity with dogs, enthusiasm, exuberance, readability, - the list could go on. These are qualities and skills most trainers almost take for granted. However there seems to be certain personal characteristics that also make them successful.Just as a good manager can recognize what motivates an employee to maximum output and production, a good trainer recognizes, what motivates and stimulates their dog to work as a team player. A dog may do some jobs because it enjoys them, some it must be encouraged to enjoy until it learns how to and others through a concern of what may happen if it doesn't. The good trainer reads this in the dog and changes the training approach accordingly. The skill of the trainer comes from the ability to show the dog what is required at a pace which matches the dogs intelligence, and do it in such a way that the dog succeeds. Small steps are taken, one at a time, concentrating totally on what is to be achieved and using every part of your person required to achieve the results is the key. With consistency the dog knows exactly what you are communicating. Once a lesson has been learnt with one command or a series of commands given then this is the way it should always be done.A good trainer progresses the training at the dog's pace and takes time to impart the lessons so that the dog really does learn and is not either guessing or performing correctly because of the place and habitual routine. In this modern rush and bustle of a commercial world where everything is packed for convenience so many owners look on their dog as they would convenience food, a prepared, pre-packed product., 'heat and eat'. 'It's a gun dog with a pedigree of all the right ingredients so all one has to do is wait for it to grow up and be used, it should come naturally!' The ingredients may be all there, but you need to know what final product you require and how to handle and mix those ingredients to come out with the right finished dog. A good trainer watches the mix along the way and adds a little extra here or knows when enough has been applied there. By testing the dog along the way and measuring progress the trainer can recognize whether certain ingredients have been skimped, forgotten or even left out and add them at a later date.The top trainers always appear relaxed and unhurried, gently (and almost unseen) giving motivation to their dog at the right time. By having a calm and confident approach they impart calmness to the dog, one of the main qualities of leadership. I know from experience that they are keyed up inside even nervous, especially in competition but by not relaying or showing it to their dog they don't have negative consequences.Good trainers play their voices, whistles and actions like musical instruments, they read the dogs actions and act or react accordingly with a promptness that lets the dog know they are the boss and are always watching and aware. Dogs are not actors, they usually behave as themselves. Some are mischievous, others devious and some downright dishonest, but you can usually read this and a trainer should act the part that gets the dog performing correctly. Play angry, play happy, and play encouragement, whatever it takes to get the end results you require from your dog. Patience certainly is a dog trainer's virtue and anger is such a negative and destructive emotion when out of control that it should play no part in training a dog. Controlled acted out anger however can be a useful tool.A good trainer should be able to judge why a dog is going wrong. However, I have noticed with good trainers that they do not put a dog in a position where it does go wrong. Careful planning, steady progress and attention to detail ensure that the exercise becomes successful so the dog can be praised not reprimanded, a much more positive approach. Again a good trainer knows just when to praise and how much to reward. Sometimes it is just a look, other times it is more dramatic. Praise is not given every time a dog does something but when it does it better than before or exactly as the trainer intended. Once a dog knows it is doing right a good trainer tones down the praise even removing it totally, reserving it for when it is really required.Watching the top trainers, the four 'C's' always come to mind - Calmness, Consistency, Communication and Concentration and they put the time and work into training their dogs. As one professional emphasized "You don't train a dog by leaving it in a kennel" The good trainers know and can read their dogs and just as important the dogs know and respect them because the messages are loud and clear. To bring on a good gun dog, don't just work on the dog, work on yourself. For the everyday trainer, most of the faults in training and handling lie with the handler not the dog. Have confidence however in yourself and train with conviction because if you are unsure and uncertain in your actions and commands your dog will become the same or do its own thing. Believe that your dog really does want to please, do things for you and with you. ALL you have to do is play the part and channel that willingness into what is required by showing the dog what you want. Well perhaps that's not quite "ALL".
  16. I am a great believer in encouraging natural retrieving with all dogs from a very early age. What is more fun for dog and owner than to play 'Fetch'? By teaching a dog not only to retrieve but also to enjoy it, this reward can be used in so many instances to create good behavior and even modify unwanted behavior. A knotted handkerchief or rag, old smelly socks (they are particularly popular), a small ball, a rubber 'toy', anything which pup will want to pick up can be used at first. Playing with a safe object that is interesting will make the pup realize that this is not only fun but pleases you also and be the start of a rewarding relationship. Some dogs are more interested in carrying than others, but many owners do nothing to encourage their very young pups to carry, more intent on ensuring that the pup picks up nothing as this could be unsafe or cause damage. I prefer to encourage pups to pick up and carry but always bring the object up to me and give it readily. Anything dangerous can then easily and safely be dealt with, should the need arise. Socks are the most popular object, but why panic when pup has got one, its only a sock! Encourage pup up with it take it slowly and gently and then give it back to him for a few seconds before taking it again. Get the pup confident I coming to you with its prizes.Puppies like to chew, so roll a treat, or a hide chew. Even a hard knucklebone can be used to encourage a pup to run and pick up. Initially the pup may not return with it but if it will pick up and parade around carrying the object for even a short time, you can praise and show how clever the pup is in your eyes. Do not chase and create problems where the pup will keep away from you or encourage you to chase it. Even little tugs of war with a small object can encourage the pup to hold and carry, but be careful not to do this too much as the dog may refuse to let go when you need it to. In this case just gently squeeze behind the object with the thumb on one side of the mouth and the index finger on the other, pushing your fingers very gently on the cheeks and between the teeth. Take the object with your free hand giving the command "Drop". With tug of war I like to start the game but I also like to finish it, never letting the pup run off with the prize. If it does, I encourage it back and then after holding the pup and praising it for coming and holding it for a few seconds, I take it from its mouth and put the object away.To encourage a good retrieve right up to your body I have often found that the best place to get a puppy returning to, especially if it is carrying a 'prized possession' is its bed or place of security. With young pups I will often sit in their bed or on their beanbag and play with retrieves there. The pup is much more likely to bring back a retrieve to this place than anywhere else. A hallway or narrow space between say a fence and the house is also good as the pup cannot run past you. At this stage always make the retrieves very short four or five yards and build up gradually as the pup gains confidence in you. By playing, encouraging and guiding a young pup to retrieve naturally from a very early age it is surprising how much the pup sees this work as fun and a reward to such an extent that food treats are rarely required. This retrieving can then form a focus in the pup's training, helping to develop obedience, control and particularly eye contact. Make sure pup becomes confident when it is close to your body and wants to come right up to it. Never grab for the dog or the retrieving 'toy'. Touch the dog as it goes past, guide it into your lap or your legs as you kneel down. Don't take the retrieve object but gently and slowly stroke and pet, under the chest and chin especially and down the back. When pup is comfortable being close to your body holding the object in its mouth you can then take the retrieve and again praise. There is no need to rush and no need to take the retrieve immediately as the dog returns. Stay calm, unhurried, be gentle and quiet.Where pups are reluctant to retrieve or even just carry, look for the opportunities that will present themselves whenever they may occur. Just holding a chew stick in your hand and letting the pup chew on it for say ten seconds, then taking it away, then giving it back helps to create the hand contact and familiarity with objects being taken away and then given back. Sit in it's bed, throw the chew stick a short distance and then encourage it back for you to hold it once more. Attach a rag to the chew stick and once the pup will bring chew stick with rag, put the rag on a ball or bumper and soon the progression to carrying anything is well under way. Although this may sound rather gross, I also put my scent on retrieve objects by spitting on them and rubbing the spittle over them.Most pups are keen carriers of sticks and other small objects, some of them not always pleasant, and when they do pick things up they often run off with them. This quite normal reaction is a result of the pups 'natural' instinct to pick up scraps of food and carry them away to eat without the danger of them being stolen by littermates. So you will often find that even if pup does come to you, it will sometimes roll on the retrieve object, put it's head down to guard it or keep turning it's head away so that you cannot take it. Providing the pup is holding the object never hurry the delivery but wait for the dog to become confident and want to bring it up to you. When it does, do not take it immediately but let the pup hold it while you praise it for doing so. If you rub behind the pups ears with your hands either side of the face or rub it's chest then the pup usually begins to adopt a nice delivery position without even realizing. Gently guide the retrieve out of the dog's mouth giving the command 'Drop', and after a few seconds, if it is a stick, ball or similar safe object, give it back to the pup to carry around. Sharing the object builds confidence in the dog and it will be more likely to let you have it's possession if it thinks they will be returned. With valuable or personal, objects be careful not to let panic take over. Do not chase the pup or snatch the object from it's mouth. Encourage the pup up to you or walk calmly up to it and gently open the mouth taking the object without making a big fuss or punishment. Never punish pup while it is carrying.A young pup needs time to develop the right actions, so don't make a big thing about retrieves that are not perfect or the fact that when you call the pup it may put down what it is carrying before returning to you. You are only at early play school not university, and pup needs time to learn what is required. Watch for situations where you can manage the actions of the pup getting it to do exactly what you want and then praise. You will be surprised how quickly it will learn from this. However lose your cool and do things which frighten pup and you will not only be surprised how it learns this reaction from you but also remembers it for the rest of it's life.Once your pup returns to you willingly and likes being praised and handled, you can give the occasional 'formal' training retrieve with a soft object - a rolled up sock or a puppy dummy is ideal. This training 'toy' should not be left around the floor for pup to see and play freely with. It should be your special training 'toy' kept purely for retrieving training. Initially, let your young pup run with the thrown 'toy' to instill some enthusiasm. As you throw the 'toy' give the command "Fetch it". The moment pup reaches the 'toy', call and encourage it back to you using your voice to entice pup right up to your body. Sitting on the floor with your legs open to guide pup into your body helps. If the pup does it well, don't keep doing it over and over again to see if it will do it well again, but stop on a good piece of work. Let the pup know you are pleased with your voice, your hands, your face and your whole behavior. Of course the amount of praise should match the temperament of the dog. An excitable dog should be praised calmly and an unenthusiastic one praised more actively. If you have an enthusiastic pup that really enjoys retrieving and hunting for the 'toy', begin making it wait (steadying) before sending it with the command to 'fetch', by holding it gently in the sit position with the command "sit", then throw the 'toy' and gradually increase the time before you send the dog with "Fetch it". If you kneel down and hold pup between your legs or with your arm around it, the hand on the front of the chest, in easy stages you can slacken your grip of the pup as it is sitting there until it begins to sit and watch the 'toy' being thrown without being held. It then waits for your fetch command. A dog that isn't very enthusiastic should be encouraged and enthused by letting it quickly chase the thrown object until the habit is well instilled, then steadied gently.To get a dog really interested in retrieving, a tennis ball often does the trick. The motion of rolling it along the ground creates excitement and when it gets buried in grass or rough cover the dog has to use its nose to find it, another strong natural ability of your dog that it loves to work with - searching and scenting. Sometimes getting a ball out of the dog's mouth can be a problem. But don't panic, place a hand either side of the pup's mouth like a sandwich with the nose and mouth as the filling and your hands as the bread. The ball will now be between your fingers and by putting your middle index finger behind the ball, you can gently take it out. The pups face will also be guided so that is directly looking at you when you do this which is the start of a nice 'pretty' delivery. In the early days use short grass for retrieving so the pup quickly succeeds, but later you can work up to longer grass, so your pup really has to use its nose and work for the retrieve object.When you are practicing early retrieves remember the young pup is only at play school and a perfect delivery is not essential. Just getting the retrieve back promptly to you with the pup holding it and not afraid of you touching him, should be the main objective. So often inexperienced trainers try to get their dogs in a sitting delivery immediately and in doing so create a number of problems. Try not to pressurize your pup in these early stages but get it in the habit of going out, searching, picking up, returning and holding the 'toy' until you are ready to take it.Throughout all your puppy training and especially when doing retrieving use the tone of your voice rather than its volume to communicate with the pup. Your dog will have good, possibly even sensitive hearing at an early age and therefore there is no need to shout or even talk loudly when giving a command. By talking and calling softly you will attract its attention just as easily by using a calm, friendly tone and, more important, on the odd occasions that you may have to raise the volume you will be able to do so with effectiveness.Make your retrieve training 'toys' special. To get the best out of a dog it is often advantageous to deny the dog any form of reward whether it be ball, rolled up sock or even freedom for an hour before undertaking any training. The 'toys' I use for retrieving are just for that and are not allowed to be around the house where the dog can play with them alone or just see them. They are special and do not become everyday 'ordinary' uninteresting objects. Training and working with the handler should be the highlight of the day. This is where a crate or kennel is invaluable during the early days of training. Let the pup have a 'time out' for re-vitalization and an unstimulated break before training - two hours or more. A place where the dog can relax and be out of harms way but where life also is a little inactive, where it is, dare I say, even a little boring. In fact the best time for training is early morning after a good sleep. The moment the dog comes out to train then anything done with you which is fun has to be one hundred percent or more enjoyable when compared to being in the crate plus it is alert. And, if you are concerned about time availability - all you need to do it for is five to ten minutes maximum. If you can do two sessions a day then that is a bonus. Exercise? Training using retrieving is exercise.Once retrieving is instilled in your dog as a pleasurable activity it can be used to reinforce many other actions and is often seen by the dog as your part in the partnership you play together. You help the dog by throwing the retrieve, sending him, controlling him and receiving the retrieved object to do another activity with. I get the impression that the dog feels it is actually rewarding you by giving you the retrieve. It stands back and says' There's a good owner for doing what I enjoy!!' the reward and pleasure goes both ways, to owner and dog, a true partner relationship.
  17. The moment you pick up your new puppy you are beginning to form a relationship that will be the basis of your life together. The bedrock of that relationship is respect, affection for each other and understanding leadership from you. Your pup may become your companion, friend and member of the family but it will always be a dog and although we may anthropomorphize with our pets we must always recognize that very important fact - it is a dog. Your pup is learning and being trained every minute of the day even when you are not formally 'training'. Habits and behavior patterns are being formed all the time and these first months of ownership are the formative ones. Lessons taught now will last a lifetime. It is easy for pup to learn good habits if we think about what we are doing but so often we owners teach bad habits without even realizing. For example, owners and visitors often encourage a pup to jump up to be petted and think it is so cute. They rub, pat and pet its head vigorously, tease it with an old sock or special toy, and play tug of war. They grab and catch it as it is running away or even coming towards them. They often wake up the pup when it is not necessary so that they can enjoy snuggling and petting it. Would you do that with a young baby? If the young pup has an accident and urinates indoors (usually because an owner has not been watching closely enough or doing 'puppy management' correctly), often they shout at it, chase it down and take it outside telling it what a bad dog it has been in a very stern voice. They may even rub its nose in the urine to 'show it' what a bad pup it has been and 'teach it a lesson', thinking someone somewhere said that was the thing to do. As pup grows up and 'learns' from these experiences it knows people enjoy them jumping up, that hands grab when you don't want them to, that humans disturb and irritate you when you are not in the mood, and it learns that hands and people sometimes must be avoided or warned off. It also learns that it is not pleasant to urinate when people are around (even in the yard!) or if you do hide so they cannot see you doing it. These are just a few examples of how a pup learns and is taught the wrong behavior without owners even realizing. Most owners want four basic things from their dogs. Firstly to be clean in the house, secondly to come every time they are called, thirdly to walk nicely on a leash and fourthly to have good house manners such as greet guests nicely and chill out when required. For some reason dog training is considered something that every owner can do. The dog will learn as it grows or in many cases the owner claims it will grow out of the bad habits it learns. Not so. The dog will learn and keep a behavior that you develop. Some of its behavior will come from natural instincts and inherited behavior but there is no doubt that what the owner does during the first four weeks of ownership shapes and builds permanent behavior. THERE ARE TWO PRIMARY RULES TO DOG TRAINING, Do not ask or tell your pup to do something it does not understand or can evade. Reward your dog for the correct behavior. Do not reward (even inadvertently) for the incorrect behavior. Putting the pup in a position where it can always do right and be rewarded is a skill of training and timing which with some people is natural and with others, has to be learned. Training should always be done in small stages. Do not think that because pup comes when it is only six feet away from you that it will come when it is at the end of the yard and certainly not if it is playing with another dog. You have to 'work' at getting pup to University level. In the early days you and your puppy are getting to know each other, so make sure that it associates you with pleasurable times, moments of enjoyment and interest. Your pup like a baby will need lots of sleep time and what better way to do it where there is less likely chance of disturbance such as in a crate. Pup's attention span is short. So have it out of the crate for brief periods and then put it back in the crate for a nap - like a baby. The short periods out can be quality time where you can concentrate on pup and teach the right behavior. During these periods you can enjoy not only training but also watching pup and learning yourself what makes pup 'tick'. By observing your pup you will be able to know a lot more about how it is thinking and can anticipate its actions and reactions. You will find that getting to know your dog and its behavior is a fascinating hobby in itself. Make sure that your children and any grandchildren realize that pup is not a new toy and that they have to treat him correctly. Let them know what they can and cannot do with the pup. Since you cannot be around all the time, it is a good idea to spend a little time educating and training your family to ensure that the pup is handled correctly and consistently and learns good habits. These early days are important and will help create a lasting relationship. If they are traumatic for you as well as the pup, you may never create the relationship that is so essential between a dog and it's owner. The important thing is that you and the whole of your family is consistent. So think through what you are going to do in the early days, it all starts the moment you pick pup up and builds from there.
  18. Whatever advice you get on training a dog there is always some mention of becoming the leader of the 'pack'. I often feel that 'Leader' is too harsh a word as I am looking for a 'partnership' but there is no doubt your dog has to look to you for leadership, instruction and guidance. It has to obey your command and when under control situations obey it without question. It all sounds so easy but establishing yourself in this role is not as simple as many think.Like any animal every dog is different and have differing personalities and character, some will be totally submissive whilst at the other end of the spectrum others may be very dominant, add to this other characteristics such as boldness, sensitivity, nervousness and all of a sudden the combinations grow. Many professional trainers like a sensitive type of dog that has a willingness to please. The 'sensitivity' often results in the dog needing very little in the form of chastisement, and with structured training generally learns quickly if you reinforce it's good work with praise. With such a dog, becoming the leader isn't difficult and in fact the dog may never challenge you for leadership. This is often the case in females and this is the reason many people prefer them.Rarely however are matters that straight forward. Your dog is born into a pack, the first seven or more weeks are spent in a pack situation and many of it's natural instincts emanate from being such an animal. With this in mind I would always advise new owners to take their pup at about seven to eight weeks of age before a 'pack' pattern establishes itself from being within the litter too long. At seven weeks the pup is old enough to leave the mother and young enough to adapt easily to a new environment and a human pack. When you take your young pup therefore, you and your family becomes it's new pack and the dog will need to adapt to your pack rules. There is no doubt then when you watch a young litter of pups you will notice that each pup will have adopted a role, and in picking your pup you may have gone for any one of the characters they had displayed. Advice from others or your own specific preferences will have determined your choice. Now that pup has to fit in with your pack and all their characteristics and routines. They have to learn their place in the household, what they are allowed and not allowed to do and generally build a security of mind through knowing where they fit into the pack order. As a human with more intelligence you have an advantage psychologically, physically and mentally over a young dog and as such should make sure that you always remain on top. Normally a puppy is easy to lead but to do so you must spend time with it and without harshness, show it what you want. In doing so you will exert your 'leadership' without pup or yourself even really knowing it. Although punishment should not be ruled out, you must realize that your pup does not know anything and unless it understands what you require cannot be punished because it does not know it is doing wrong. Put the pup in a position where it does right and then you can reward. This will create a far better relationship with the pup than constantly reprimanding and nagging it. So guide, encourage and reward acceptable behavior. Avoid situations which encourage incorrect behavior and at times even ignore unwanted behavior if you are not in a position to put it right.Simple commands such as catching the pups attention with it's name, and encouraging it to come 'HERE'; saying 'kennel' and guiding the pup into it; teaching it to sit and even to urinate and defecate on command are all parts of exerting your 'leadership' on the dog. To do all this you have to play a part that will get the desired results and your eyes, hands and voice are very instrumental in this. A high pitched, sweet voice to call and praise, a gruff sound to scold is obvious but also use your hands and your eyes. Your eyes can speak volumes to a dog. Large and staring are menacing and 'punishing', soft half closed and smiling are encouraging. But your hands are positive direct contacts with your dog. Stroking, shaking, scratching, massaging, holding are all ways in which you can use your hands and impart messages of leadership. I spend a lot of time with young pups getting them to accept being with me and not being afraid of my hands. In future I will want them to see my hands as friends not to afraid of so I am careful how I use them. When I have pups I like to spend time with them and we regularly have a play on the lawn. All pups like to have a bite either at my hands or any part of me they can get their teeth into. Most of the time this is not too drastic but occasionally they get carried away and those little needle teeth can be more than fun. If they do nip a little more than I like, a quick 'ouch' and light tap on the nose can do the trick of making them desist. I then let them sniff my hand again and am delighted if they nuzzle or lick it instead of biting. Sometimes I will just nip their lips or nose as they are biting my fingers, in this way they do not see it as me punishing them but as something that happens when they bite and don't do it as readily. A friend of mine has obedience border collies and she tells me that they tend to bite noses - yours, so she feeds them small pieces of cheese from her mouth and in this way they don't look to bite at the face but look for pleasure. This is also a good way to develop eye contact. If a puppy runs away and ignores me when I call I will endeavor to catch its attention and get it to obey so that I can praise it. Running away, sitting on the floor, waving an enticing piece of rag or a toy are all techniques I use to get the dog to come to me.Your pup must know where it is allowed to go in the house and must also have a place of security. A crate or a kennel area in the house is ideal for this. It is taught that crate or kennel means exactly that and it must stay there until allowed to leave. The crate or kennel however must never be considered as or used as punishment. Train pup to go there willingly. This is its 'Den", its own room. The important feature of a crate or kennel area is that in there the pup cannot do wrong, it is not learning bad habits and when out with you this time can be quality learning time where you can teach pup what you want it to know. Short periods of training, no more than twenty minutes at a time, three to four times a day are far more productive than long brain tiring sessions.. When you go through doors make the dog wait while you go first and teach your dog basic politeness. In the house a lot of this can be done very easily through repetitive training in simple stages showing the dog the social graces that you expect from someone within your pack. If you do this, the challenge to your leadership may not arise but watch out if it does, and sometimes it isn't blatant. The defiance or lack of response when you give an instruction and pulling on the leash to get through a door are just obvious illustrations. But look also for the dog that barks to tell you it is time for a tidbit or a walk, or the scratching at the door to let it come in or go out without any real reason, the guarding of food or a belonging even in play, and the impatience to get to food when it is placed on the floor are all signs of a dog that is taking control. Some dogs will even do it almost fun like and play the fool to get the results required from you, their leadership comes from manipulation. If you do find yourself with a very dominant dog then the answer is to not only train it to a high degree but to ensure that it complies every time with your commands. And probably one of the most important commands around the home is to make it lie down, in this way it assumes naturally subservient position to you.As pack leader you should have a dog looking to you, respecting you and wanting to do things that will please you but always watch out for that challenge. If you know your dog you will realize when it is trying to please and when it is pleasing itself, and when that happens make sure the dog knows you know and demand consistent obedience. In future articles I will expand on many of these leadership topics and show how they can help you develop a true partner that looks to you for leadership.
  19. Awhile ago I wrote an article on retrieving and how to get your dog enjoying a game of fetch (with a ball or dummy). Since that time I have been asked by quite a few people how do they get their dog to find things that have been lost or just play 'Hide and Seek' to exercise their dog physically and mentally. Hunting dogs have an inherited ability, a natural instinct which is at the front of their motivations and that is to hunt. They enjoy it and the scent of game is like an expensive perfume that they search out. But the pet dog also has hunting instincts. They may be lying a little dormant in some dogs but there is no doubt that in many dogs they can be revitalized and owners can have some fun working with their dogs hunting ability. Sniffer dogs for drugs and explosives, search and rescue dogs, tracking dogs are all taught on the basic understanding that by using their noses they will find a reward at the end of their work. With some dogs that don't enjoy retrieving that reward may be food or some other form of reward that the dog will enjoy but for dogs that enjoy retrieving the motivation to hunt is greater. One of my first dogs, a toy poodle loved the game of 'find the ball' and we would hide it all over our house. Similarly I have been working with a client who wanted her own dog this time a Polish Lowland Sheepdog to enjoy scenting out objects and in doing so not only give the dog exercise but be a source of entertainment and fun for the family and visitors. I personally feel that dogs generally enjoy working. If their brain is not given a problem to solve or work to perform they look, like children, for something to do themselves. And that something may not be what you want. A bored mind can get into all forms of trouble. Working with your dog creates a true bond, it creates a dependency link where you together form a partnership to do a job. I have had dogs that have found my car keys for me when I have dropped them in a field. I have watched sniffer dogs being trained and worked, and the thrill at seeing these dogs put all their energies into finding items in this case, drugs and explosives, is quite an experience. So how do we go about it? Through retrieving, get your dog keen on going out, finding and picking up objects it has seen you throw. I find a tennis ball or a soft dummy useful for this and I keep this, their retrieving 'toys', just for that purpose. I don't play retrieve with anything else at this stage. I want the dog to realize that this is my 'toy' and I am allowing him to share it with me. If the 'toy' is around all day long for the dog to pick up and play with at will, you will probably find that it is not interested in playing. Every time you send your dog for the retrieve give it the command - 'Fetch'. Once your dog is retrieving and is returning with it to you, then you can go to the next stage, which is to get it interested in fetching the object even though it hasn't seen it fall. I do this in two ways. The first way is to get down low to the ground, even sit on the ground, hold your dog close to you and throw the 'dummy' away from you, immediately covering the dogs eyes with your hand while the it is still in the air. At first you will have a little struggle, but if you have trained your dog to sit and stay when you throw objects then there will be no problem. In this instance the dog has seen the object thrown, watched the general direction and believes you when you say 'Fetch'. However it is one stage further removed from actually seeing the object hit the floor and stay there. Send your dog with the word 'Fetch' and let him work out where the object is lying. At first use a room or lawn where it is easy to see the object but gradually increase the depth of cover such as grass, so that it is not so easy to see and the dog has to use it's nose. The second way of getting the dog to start hunting and not see the fall is to use a gateway or a doorway. Sit the dog just to one side of the gate or door where it cannot see into the field, yard or room. Throw the object into this area and let the dog watch you throw but not see where the object lands. Bring your dog now to the opening and with a clear command 'Fetch' send him in to find. The first few throws should not be too long in distance, because you want the dog to succeed quickly and build up confidence. If the dog is keen it will begin to hunt the area. Some dogs will hunt for a short time and then if they cannot find it, give up, loosing confidence. If that happens, the moment you see your dog giving up, go in and encourage and use a word to encourage it to use its nose "Find it", "Seek on" or whatever comes to mind easily and is not confusing. If you know where the object is lying then use you fingers encouraging the dog towards it. The moment the dog finds the object praise and show how pleased you are by verbally rewarding him. By sending your dog for a retrieve with the word 'Fetch' it will learn that command, now as you make the finding of it more difficult and help it with the command "Find It", it will learn this one. Don't be too quick however to help your dog if it hunting well. If you are too quick to help you will find that your dog will start to look to you for assistance without putting effort into the search. You will be showing him where it is and all he will be doing is picking it up. Once your dog understands "Find It" you can now start to hide the 'dummy' but again make it simple to start with, let him succeed quickly. If you give your dog a cue that you are starting this game with the words "Play Lost" and then give the command "Find it" encouraging the dog to start looking, you will now teach the dog when the game is starting and he will know what is expected. I also think it is a good idea to let the dog know when the game is over "Finish" and the 'dummy' is then put away. Initially to get enthusiasm encourage the dog just enough to keep him keen but not so much that it distracts him. Make a big play of when he finds it. Now you can gradually build up the complexity. Use a different room from the one you have been training in or a different piece of ground. Go through exactly the same procedure to start and get hunting and remember that the dog has learned the work in one place, he may be lacking in confidence in a new area. Never assume that your dog has suddenly become 'dumb'. The situation, the place, the scent, the distractions and many other things may be completely different creating a different hunting environment. If you want your dog to hunt anywhere you have to give him experience of many different environments. Working with sniffer dogs took me into many different locations and even into cars and trucks where the dogs had to search just as diligently in a very small place with cramped quarters. You may now start to train your dog to find and retrieve specific objects. The sniffer dogs were taught to first fetch a tube with small holes in it, into this was put the substance that the handler wanted him to learn to find. Initially therefore the dog was scenting the tube but then it was scenting tube and substance in this way it then recognized that the substance smell also meant the retrieve the handler was looking for. When new substances were on the market and the dog had to find these also, it went through a refresher course with tube and new substance. Saying that, do not believe that once the dog had been taught to sniff out a substance it was no longer trained, the handlers are constantly doing search routines to keep up the training. If you have been using a dummy, try attaching you car keys to it with a rubber band and maybe wrapping a rag around the keys so they do not catch in the dogs mouth and make him reluctant to retrieve. Once your dog has found this for a few times try hiding the keys alone and see how he reacts. You can also start naming objects, I had a friend who bought her Jack Russell so many toys you would have thought it was a pet shop. But every toy she bought she gave a name and had the dog retrieve it with the toys name "Find it - (pause) - Hedgehog", and this little dog rarely came back with the wrong item. Even when she was told "Green Hedgehog" and she had other colors. This was advanced stuff though and the little dog was the sole companion of the lady, who could give her plenty of time. But there is no reason why every dog owner should not have fun with their dog playing "Hide and Seek". Now, can you use your imagination and think how to get your dog finding and fetching the newspaper, your slippers, the leash or any other object. Everyone can enjoy these 'games'.
  20. Punishment is a hard description for what is often required to tell a dog you are displeased with what it has done. In most cases a tone of voice, a body posture and a glare of the eye is enough. It is more the way you say the words than what you say. A growling aggressive tone denotes displeasure and a staring eye with your head position showing your 'hackles' lets the pup know you are not a happy person.Punishment however should be kept to a minimum. Remember it is a pup that is learning and full of the joys and innocence of childhood. It needs to be shown what is right or wrong. Try to be positive, encouraging the pup to do right and avoiding where possible the situations which are wrong, so bad habits are not learned. If you put the pup into a situation where it can only do right then you are able to praise it. By good management in your training this is possible. If you put the pup in a position where it is tempted to do wrong or because it knows no different, and you cannot be there to guide it right, then you have only yourself to blame. And I wonder who should really be punished in this instance?Punishment can vary in intensity and you should always get to know your dog and what level to go to if required. If a physical reprimand is required a light shake of the fur around the neck may be the maximum that is needed, link that with a growling tone of voice and very quickly the pup will be responding to the growling tone without the shake because it has linked those together from past experience. Harsh physical punishment may do you some good in relieving your temper but will do the pup no good at all and certainly physically hitting a young pup will bring about nothing other than making it cowed and resentful. Get to know your pup's temperament and read it's reactions. Only in this way will you be able to learn how far to go with punishment. It is much better to show the dog what is required and then praise it for doing right. Punish the dog incorrectly and you could create a problem that will last a lifetime. So learn to count to more than ten and think again on how to approach the problem.Punishment may also form part of a correction. A dog that has learned certain commands may decide for whatever reason not to do what you require. In many instances it is because the dog is not focusing on what you require, it may have been distracted, it may decide that it will refuse, or it may just have had enough training and be bored. In the latter, even though you now know you have gone too far or for too long a time, it is advisable to encourage and guide the dog into what you want even though you may now simplify it. The dog now succeeds, knows you will follow through and you can praise to finish on a good note. I am of the belief that a correctly administered positive punishment whether it be by voice, leash or even physical means brings that focus back onto you. The punishment should not be so harsh that it frightens the dog to a stage where it cannot think but sufficient to bring back that focus. Once the focus and concentration is there, then you can immediately put the dog in a position where it does do what you require and praise for doing it.I have a theory here which may sound a little far fetched. In my mind this punishment is a little more than creating the focus, I believe that the "attention getting" and in some instances even mild stress that you create through the punishment actually clears the cells that are concentrating on something else or refusing your request. Almost immediately or within a few short seconds, this makes those cells now open to learning - it creates a clean focusing 'sheet'. These cells now in the right behavior to get the rewards - to meet the basic needs of the dog. It also establishes you as the senior partner. Now to get it to do right after a correction a trainer may lure with treats or toys (something very pleasurable) or guide into what is required by environmental means, hands, body, leashes or long lines. If the method of now getting the dog to answer your request is positively reinforced, it becomes even more positive in relation to the punishment previously administered. The pleasure, reward gap is widened. Now that does not mean that a trainer should punish before every request. Far from it, and I would always encourage every trainer to look not only for using positive reinforcement (rewards) as much as possible to get what is required but also minimize punishment even to the stage where it is virtually eliminated. If an 'Ah' or "Oy" or "No" or even a look now stops the dog doing wrong and gets the focus back onto what you require, is that voice or look really a punishment. Theoretically yes, but morally I would not feel in any way cruel or inhumane giving it. In fact in many instances by learning to read your dog more, this 'punisher' can now be used to warn the dog that what it is thinking of, or just starting to do is not what you want. It avoids the necessity of a correction or stronger punishment.I always encourage a trainer to put a dog in a position where it can do right. Creative and innovative trainers find ways of putting their dogs into such a position. But when focus wanders, resistance appears and a dog begins to decide to rebel (what I call dishonest) then I have no doubt that punishment (applied and timed correctly) in every day training situations can be used to advantage and the lessons more firmly embedded within the dogs mind. The level of punishment does have to be right, as does the timing for it to be related to the 'crime'. That is where many feel the ordinary owner can never get it right. They lose their temper or get the level and timing of the correction wrong. This concern I can understand, but as trainers we are there to show them what is and what is not, correct and acceptable. If I was to err I would err on the side of not showing them, but some punishers are so mild and so easily given with only an attention grabbing effect on the dog, certainly not cruel or inhumane. If we can teach owners to time their praise and their rewards, we can teach correction and punishment for when it can benefit changing a dogs behavior. Sometimes even if rewards are incorrect the dog can learn some very bad habits. I have seen dogs that have trained their owners very well during the use of treats and, at the same time, they have learned some very poor habits. So if we can teach reward timing and intensity we should be able to teach punishment timing and intensity . Yes, maybe we have to take it a lot easier and slower, as an error with this can be far more memorable than an error with rewards (and that is debatable in some instances), but we are avoiding our responsibilities not to do so. Most people, even though we say they should not, will punish anyway, whether we show them how or not, Many times they do not even know they are punishing. Some dogs will require the smallest amount of punishment and some will require more. Generally, clients will apply it whether you tell them to or not. In many cases they will say they do not, sometimes denying it in their own minds, sometimes telling us untruths and sometimes not even recognizing it for what it is. But whether they deny giving it or not, it is our responsibility to inform them of when, where and how and if they are unsure or uncertain, don't. Give the dog the benefit of the doubt - just count to ten and start again. But let us not avoid our responsibilities to the dog and the owner.
  21. The average heat cycle for a dog is approximately 3 weeks and since this is an average, some heats are shorter (as little as 7-10 days), others are longer (4 weeks or more). Average times between heat periods is seven months but some dogs can cycle as early as every 4 months, some once a year. Lengths of heat cycles and intervals between cycles are different for each dog but most dogs hit somewhere close to the averages. The first part of heat you will notice bleeding from the vulva, swelling of the vulva, possible increase in urination and the most noticeable, male dogs hanging around the house. During this period (proestrus), females will not allow the males to breed with them although the males will be very persistent. The second part or estrus is the time in which the female will allow the male to breed her and this can last anywhere from 4-21 days. A female, most of the time, will allow most any male to breed during this time. As the female starts to go out of heat or enter diestrus, she will be less willing to breed. Again this stage can last 4-14 days but averages approximately 7 days. The next cycle usually begins about 7 months from the start of the last heat cycle, not the end of that cycle but again this varies from dog to dog. The interval stays the same even if she becomes pregnant. reddog
  22. We are on the new software. I still have lots to look at but we are rolling.
  23. We have 2 drawings that will complete today. Get your number in before its over.
  24. Hoping for a good day to hunt tomorrow.

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