Thursday, September 18, 2008

Everyone to the vet!

At least that's the way it feels today! I took Bailey in to the vet this morning to get spayed, microchipped, vaccinated, etc. I also ended up taking my dog Remi in, because he's sick. I won't gross you out with the details, but let's just say my husband spent a lot of time cleaning carpets yesterday, because Remi couldn't make it outside in time. Lucky me, I was at work and got to miss all that! The vet fit him in even though I didn't have an appointment for him, so I'm anxiously waiting to hear what they find out. In addition to the dogs, I am taking in my own cat and one of my foster cats this afternoon to get checked out. I also might take in Lacy since she needs to get her stitches out from her spay surgery last week. I might as well get everyone in and out at once!

I finally broke down and bought a Gentle Leader head collar for Remi. I heard about these a long time ago, but wasn't too sure about them. The books I originally read about dog training and dog care had mixed reviews, and I'm not usually one to try the newest fad (even if they have been around for a few years!). Since Remi is stronger than I am, I can't walk him on a regular collar and leash, so my husband and I opted to get a prong collar for him when we first got him. Those are more of a classic training collar, and it allowed me to walk him and hold him back if he saw another dog or rabbit or something he wanted to go after. He responded well to it, and it worked so I kept putting off trying one of the head collars even though I kept hearing good things about them. Well, I finally decided it was time to at least try a friendlier method of walking Remi. I got the Gentle Leader a few days ago - along with some other very fun training supplies - and tried it out the same night. It is AMAZING! I am so happy I bought it - it works great! I've only used it on a couple of short walks so far, but so far he has been perfect - he doesn't pull me around, he seems very comfortable with it on, and when he's seen something he wants to go after, I've been able to redirect him without having to yank on the leash or cause him pain. I am a huge fan of this collar. I will stick to the flat collar on most of the dogs, but on dogs that are too strong for me to walk easily, this will be my first choice of training collars from now on. It actually makes me look forward to taking Remi for walks again!

One of my other fun training supplies I bought is called a clicker+. Clickers, just like head halters, were one of those things I felt like hadn't been around long enough to be proven. People have been training dogs for decades without needing a little box that makes a clicking noise. Besides, I have enough to worry about with a leash and treats! But once I started learning more about clicker training, I changed my mind. There are several scientific studies (those always help convince me - something measurable and proven to work) that show how much better animals respond to a consistent noise made right at the time of wanted behavior. And while I was doing the same thing with a verbal cue (saying "Good" each time the dog did the desired behavior), a mechanical noise that sounds the same each time is clearer and easier for a dog to understand. So, I started shopping for clickers. And one of the problems with training more than one dog at a time is that the click can be confusing since each dog isn't sure when its "being clicked". So since I like gadgets, and since I am usually training more than one dog at a time, I just had to buy this clicker+, which is an electronic clicker that makes four different clicking noises! It's easier to use than a typical box clicker because I don't have to worry about holding the clicker backwards or upside down and not being able to click at the right time. And its fun because I can give each dog a different kind of click. It also has different volume levels which is nice since Elvis is scared of loud clicks (surprise), but loud clicks are better for outdoors or when there is a lot of noise in the house. So I'm having a great time playing with my new dog training supplies. I've heard you can even train cats with a clicker, but I've got to figure out dog training with a clicker first.

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