Archive for the ‘Socialization’ Categoryby Northernmost on June 9, 2013 in Hilary, Socialization, Wilder with No Comments
Hilary and Wilder had a playdate with Fredrik’s mother’s 2-year-old Labrador Retriever James yesterday. James is a great dog, playful and uncomplicated (like most Labs are) and ready to invite other friendly dogs into play straight away. Since James and Hilary already know each other we figured it would be a good idea to introduce Wilder too. Wilder has had a great start in life at Mountain Home and we aim to continue building on that foundation by making sure he has as many positive experiences as possible, with dogs of different breeds, new people, new places etc. We’re still waiting for a puppy class to become available anywhere within 1h of where we live, but for some reason there are very few classes available during summer. If nothing comes up soon, maybe we should organize a puppy class ourselves?
A brief break from playing to recieve treats from Fredrik’s mum – happy pups
After two weeks of warm weather our winter is definitely over. We still have plenty of snow but it doesn’t hold for us to ski or sled on, and the dogs punch through easily, so we have had to accept that the sledding season is over for this time.
Today we took Hilary and Thunder on a walk in Skellefteå which is our nearest major town, situated about 30 minutes from our home. It’s a great place for walking the dogs and socializing them in a busier environment than the quiet country road at home. We went for a two-hour walk along the Skellefte River and watched the last remnants of winter pass us by.
When we go on our town walks we always bring our clickers as it’s a great opportunity to train our dogs to walk on a loose leash, pass other dogs, joggers, bikes etc., and stay focused on us, rather than on everything else. For our “country bumpkin Mals”, staying focused can sometimes be a challenge, but Hilary and Thunder did well today.
During our walk we passed Skellefteå’s beautiful country church, maybe Fredrik and I will get married there next year? Or maybe we’ll get married on top of a mountain, you never know
I always feel a little blue when the winter ends, as I can never get enough of sledding and skijoring, but luckily the sadness only lasts for a day or two. Now we will take care of some spring chores at home before kicking off some off-snow activities. There are so many fun things to do in summer – hiking and packing, carting, agility, tracking and more. I hope the last bit of snow will be gone soon!
Have a happy weekend everyone
We had a visit from Fredrik’s mum’s Labrador James who had a good romp in the snow with Hilary and Lyra. James is an extremely good natured dog and a great playmate who can keep up with (and wear out!) even the most exuberant Malamute teenager. If we have a litter in the future we’ll have to borrow him for puppy play sessions as this fun loving boy is a perfect introduction to other breeds.
Are you tired already??
Last weekend we took part in an interesting and inspiring BAT workshop organized by our local dog walking & training group. BAT stands for Behavior Adjustment Training and is a method developed by American dog trainer Grisha Stewart who is the owner and founder of Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle.
In her book Behavior Adjustment Training: BAT for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs (2011) Grisha Stewart provides dog owners with useful tools for training fearful/and or reactive dogs. The BAT method encourages you to learn about the canine language in order to be able to identify your dog’s calming signals and utilize these in training. When training your dog using the BAT method, you work with your dog and give your dog a chance to learn to control his environment through peaceful means.
If you are already used to clicker training and/or positive reinforcement, the BAT method provides the next set of tools that will take your training and relationship with your dog one step further. The BAT method is very easy to learn and we especially recommend it to Malamute owners who are dealing with fear issues, frustrated greeters or aggression. And it does not have to be a dog-to-dog aggression problem that you are dealing with, as this method works equally well for training a dog that has a fear of an object, or is uncomfortable around strange people or kids, or as a gentle technique for socializing puppies. You can learn more about BAT by visiting the BAT website or BAT for Dog Reactivity on Facebook.
Two good books: Köttbullelydnad by Maria Ahola (2008) and Behavior Adjustment Training: BAT for Fear, Frustration, and Aggression in Dogs by Grisha Stewart (2011).
The workshop we participated in last weekend was led by Maria Ahola from Furface Hundskola in Enköping in Sweden. Maria is the author of the popular book Köttbullelydnad (2008) (In English: Meatball Obedience Training) and was introduced to BAT when she attended Grisha Stewart’s seminar in Sweden earlier this year. We really enjoyed listening to, and learning from Maria, and recommend her training classes to anyone who is interested in using dog-friendly training methods that help dogs gain confidence and social skills.
A happy dog meeting at the training class. Our dog training group began as a socialization group mainly for Bernese Mountain Dogs but has grown to include not only our Alaskan Malamutes, but also a Cocker Spaniel and some terriers of different breeds. What all dog owners have in common is a desire to train our dogs using positive methods only.
Maria Ahola is one of the initiators of the Swedish campaign Yellow Dog which has gone viral and quickly spread around the world. Maybe you have seen this symbol already on the internet or have come across a dog in the street with a yellow ribbon on the leash? If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon on the leash, please do not approach this dog, as the ribbon indicates that this dog needs space.
A dog can wear a Yellow Ribbon because:
- The dog has health issues or is in training.
- The dog is a rescue dog being rehabilitated.
- The dog has had a previous bad experience with another dog or simply does not like close contact with other dogs, even if they are friendly.
- This is a bitch in season and thanks to the yellow ribbon owners of male dogs can find out without having to get too close.
The choice of yellow as the signalling colour can be compared to how yellow is used in traffic lights. Unlike the colour red, which would indicate “stop, don’t come near my dog!”, yellow means; “please stop and ask me if it is OK before walking up to my dog with your dog/kids/treats.” We think the campaign Yellow Dog is a great idea and are hoping the concept will soon be widely known and respected.
We went on another enjoyable walk this evening with the “Bernese Mountain Dogs & Friends Walking Group”. Eleven dogs of six different breeds took part and many of the dogs ran off leash through most of the walk. Great fun and a wonderful opportunity for socialization!
Hilary and Titan were excited to meet the dogs from last week’s walk. This time, however, Titan was a tiny bit grumpy with the other males when they met up close (probably due to Lyra being in heat at home) but at the same time he didn’t mind being told off by a tiny terrier. Overall, we were pleased with how both Titan and Hilary behaved around other dogs. Hilary is about to come in season but still loves everyone, big and small. That’s how we would like every Malamute to be – social, friendly and tolerant. We’re also noticing that this summer’s clicker training is starting to pay off; Hilary doesn’t pull on the lead as much as before and is seeking contact quite frequently. Nice to be able to see results after only a couple of months of training
This evening was spent in the company of a lovely bunch of people and their dogs. In search of more opportunities for socializing and training our Malamutes we recently came across a group of Bernese Mountain Dog owners who meet on a weekly basis in our local area. We read on their website that they use positive training methods only and since we agree with this philosophy 100%, we decided to ask whether it would be OK for us to bring a couple of our Malamutes to their Wednesday gathering. To our delight they responded that we were very welcome to join them – on one condition: we had to be fans of the Bernese Mountain Dog! Well, that condition wasn’t difficult for us to meet; when Fredrik and I were growing up we both had the Bernese Mountain Dog among our Top 3 favourite breeds
Bernese Mountain Dog puppies are truly irresistible – this happy little guy is called “Malte”.
To this first meeting we decided to bring along Titan and Hilary. Titan has a friendly attitude towards other dogs but needs more regular exposure to be able to focus on his obedience training. Hilary too is a friendly dog who in addition has the special gift of being able to help uncertain dogs relax in her company. We wanted to bring Lyra too but since she has just started her season we decided she had better stay at home this time. Hopefully the gatherings will continue throughout the summer and into the fall, and she’ll be able to participate later on. As always, Titan was very excited about meeting new dogs and was equally curious about the young puppy as he was about the adults. Since Titan has so far mostly met dogs that have been smaller than him, it was a useful experience to be around dogs his own size, and to meet some adult males that were larger and heavier than him too.
Hilary’s gentle ways always make her a favourite with people, even now when she is completely bald and looks “a bit of a mess”
Besides the lovely Bernese Mountain Dogs, there was also a sweet Cocker Spaniel girl present, a spunky Chinese Crested Dog, and some cute terriers of different breeds too. What a great place for socialization! What particularly struck us was the positive attitude among the dog owners which created a positive attitude among the dogs too. A fun evening for everyone involved
On Sunday we brought the pups and the sunny weather with us and travelled to Sweden to meet with our friends Sara and James Barstow of Ayakulik Alaskan Malamutes. Sara and James are currently on a Grand Tour of Lapland together with their three Alaskan Malamutes so we decided to meet up near Jukkasjärvi in the heart of Swedish Lapland for a wilderness weekend. Sara and James own Lyra’s litter brother “Xion “(Sledog Dream Factory) so this was a great chance for the siblings to get together for a playdate. We had amazing weather during both days and besides chatting about Malamutes and having saunas we managed to squeeze in some sledding and skijoring too. Hilary and Lyra gained some more valuable trail experience and had plenty of fun playing with the very sweet and handsome Xion. Thanks Sara, James, Oakley, Kiska and Xion for a great weekend!
We’ve been on a weekend trip to Vålådalen in Jämtland to meet with our friends Aimee Campbell and Ian Elliott from the UK. Ian and Aimee are on holiday in Dalarna in Sweden so we decided to meet up about halfway between Dalarna and our home for a fun “Malamute weekend”. Sweden is a relatively big country so the journey from our home on the coast to Vålådalen is 580km (360 mi) single way. I wish we had been closer as then we would have been able to spend more time together.
Ian and Aimee are the owners of Twisp and Leader (Mountain Home’s Packice Twisp WTD WPD WWPD and Mountain Home’s Lead Dog at Packice WTD WPD WWPD) who are full siblings of our girl Hilary but from a previous litter. They also own Dash, who is the uncle of our Titan, and senior girls Breezer and Kia who are related to Dash. It was therefore natural for us to bring along Hilary and Titan on this trip and also our girl Lyra, who is related to the Packice dogs through both Mountain Home and the UK bloodlines. Talk about a family reunion!
From left to right: Leader, Breezer, Dash and Twisp.
We had all kinds of weather during our stay in Vålådalen – snow, rain, strong winds and a glimpse of the sun too. I didn’t use the camera much because of the weather but I know Aimee took some pictures so hopefully we’ll get to see them later. We had a lovely time together and made two short trips along the local trails. The Packice Malamutes have superb manners and are perfect trail companions so it was an ideal opportunity for our gang (who very rarely encounter other dogs when out working) to share the trail with these friendly Mals. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a similar “family reunion” another year!
Puppy training update:
Hilary and Lyra worked really well in harness throughout the weekend and we are very pleased with their performance – they are true naturals in harness! While the girls haven’t completed many miles they have nevertheless experienced many useful things during their first working season:
- Working on a 2-dog skijoring team
Working on a 3-dog sledding team
Different terrains – flat and hilly
Different weather and trail conditions
Working alongside unknown dogs
Encountering snowmobiles, people and wildlife on the trail
To us, puppy training is more about “trail socialization” than actual physical training. Most important is that all early experiences are of a positive kind so that the harness, sled and skis is associated with having fun! We feel that Hilary and Lyra now have a good foundation for the future and during the rest of the season we can focus more on training our adult dogs. You can view photos from the girls’ first season in harness in their Working Gallery.
Lyra and Hilary had company in the playarea today by Fredrik’s Mother’s 7-month old Labrador, “James”. Two Malamute girls and a high-energy Lab boy – I think you can imagine the scene! We thought the girls had endless energy but when Lyra and Hilary started to slow down, James was still going strong! Playing with a friendly dog of a different breed is such a valuable experience as the pups learn to read and respond to different nuances of the canine language. James is a lovely, happy boy and the trio had great fun together! After our guests had gone home, Hilary and Lyra fell sound asleep. Two hours later they are still sleeping…
Lyra and Hilary have had a busy week. These girls have fun from morning to evening with some short breaks for napping. Yesterday both pups took part in the final session of Lyra’s puppy class which consisted of a socialization walk in the city centre. We are very pleased with both girls who, despite being country bumpkins, were completely relaxed in the busy city environment (so relaxed that they rolled over on their backs, lol!). They were also great with the other dogs at class, helping a frightened Cavalier King Charles Spaniel trust larger dogs again. Well done girls!! Lyra will now have a short break from formal training, while Hilary starts her class next Saturday.
We highly recommend Hannas Hundsupport for those of you who live near Umeå and are interested in dog training classes using positive reinforcement. Instructor Hanna Vernerlund is a skilled obedience trainer with wide knowledge about canine behaviour.
It’s been a fun weekend for puppy Lyra with plenty of playtime with both pack members and outside dogs. Today we met with the local dog club for a Sunday walk around town. For this first walk of the year only two other dog owners turned up so in total there were four dogs present, which is a rather manageable number. After the walk we let the dogs loose for a play session in the snow. Lyra had fun with everyone and we were really impressed with 2-year-old Titan who behaved impeccably around two adult males, whom he had met for the first time today.
Today’s walk and play session was an excellent experience for Lyra who learnt two important things: some dogs need more space than others, and that must be respected, and a big black dog (in this case an adult Doberman Pinscher) can be just as friendly as any other dog.
With one puppy in the family, and another one joining us soon, we will probably be spending more time on socialization and “puppy stuff”, than on working activities this winter. However, considering that dogs can remain active sled dogs for more than ten years of their lives, while the key period for socialization is during the first year, it’s not a difficult choice to make. Next year all our dogs will be old enough to work in harness and hopefully they will have benefited from the “work” we’re doing now.
It’s been a sunny and dry summer here on the coast and most of the time it’s been too warm to involve the dogs in any working activities. Instead we’ve been taking it easy at home, enjoying quality time with the family.
Since we live in the countryside and have farms nearby it’s important that our dogs behave well around livestock. Our neighbour’s horses sometimes come wandering into our yard, making everybody very excited. Having lived in Lapland, our Malamutes are more used to reindeers than horses and cattle…