Archive for the ‘Socialisation’ Categoryby Northernmost on November 2, 2014 in Hilary, Socialisation with No Comments
Hilary took part in a dog playdate in Skellefteå today and had a great time running off leash together with eleven other dogs of different breeds. There were three males present and eight bitches and apart from a minor squabble between two males everyone got along fine. Visiting a dog park isn’t something that we would normally do with our Malamutes (you can read an article about the pros and cons of dog parks here) but since Hilary genuinely enjoys playing with dogs of different breeds and gets along with dogs of both sexes, we decided to give it a try. Hilary first looked surprised to see so many new dogs in one place, but it didn’t take long before she joined in the fun!
Photographer Jörgen S Öfjäll took this great pic from the dog park today. You can see more of his great dog action photos on his flickr page: flickr.com/photos/jstonehill/
Another great shot by Jörgen S Öfjäll – there are five dogs in the picture!
My own pics didn’t have quite the same sharpness but at least you can see that everyone – big and small – are having fun together.
The organisers of this weekly event have set up rules for behaviour for both dogs and owners and the focus is on making sure the playtime is fun and safe for everyone.
Being a Malamute, Hilary is perhaps a little more concerned about canine etiquette than many other breeds, but all the dogs that were present today had a well developed language and got along fine. Someone said that “Dog parks are for dogs that already have good social skills; it is not the place for a dog to learn them.” and I fully agree with that notion.
There are three girls and a boy in this picture.
Hilary had the chance to socialise with puppies and toddlers too…
Here she is greeting a cute Finnish Lapphund bitch.
Playing at the dog park was a new experience for Hilary – but it was a wholly positive one. A big thank you to Nanna and Lovisa for organising this event!
We had a visit from Fredrik’s mother and her husband during the weekend and Hilary and Lyra got a playdate with their 3-year-old Labrador James. Both girls have played with James about 2-3 times before and they always have a blast together. Lyra doesn’t seem to object much to James’s “lack of etiquette”, or maybe I should say – typical Lab behaviour – she just loves to play with someone who is as wild and crazy as she is. Hilary, on the other hand, is a little more educating in her approach but still has loads of fun playing with James, who must be the happiest dog on earth. We thought about letting Wilder join in on the fun too, but since the girls have come out of season only a few days ago we decided that it’s better to let them meet away from home. As always with Malamutes, it’s best to let dogs of the same sex meet on a neutral ground, rather than introducing them on either’s home turf.
It’s been quiet here on the blog lately as we’ve been busy with different home improvement projects and have gone straight from work to bed (after taking the dogs for walks on slippery icy roads…) but today we took a break from the paint pots and visited the Christmas market and fair at Nordanå in Skellefteå. Nice to see some people and soak up the holiday spirit 🙂
We spent a lot of time by the warming fire.
The Christmas market is a great place to bring dogs for socialisation as there are crowds to walk through, lots of dogs and people to say hello to and plenty of new sounds and smells to explore.
We had Wilder with us but he has already been out and about a lot in his first year and is no longer that excited about the “meet and greet” routine, he’s more like “OK, I said hello to that old dog, come on, give me a treat now!”.
I did some shopping for Christmas decorations and bought a pair of warm mittens (I had left mine at home). Next year we’re planning to have our own stand at the fair and sell some home made products. I won’t reveal exactly what just yet, but they are “Malamute related” 😉
Our friends at Rascal Huskies had brought their friendly Siberian Huskies to greet visitors at the fair. They also sold copies of their book “Hundspannsliv“, which tells the story of their daily life with sled dogs and introduces the reader to the different personalities of their dogs. Sounds like a fun read!
The fair had something for everyone…30 years ago, that would have been me feeding the horse.
One of the pretty decorations that we brought home. Smells just like Christmas!
We joined our friends Kjerstin and Johan and their dog training group for an active walk in the forest yesterday. It’s been nearly a year since we last took part in their Wednesday walking and training session, as it often collides with our other activities, but it was great to see everyone again and join in the fun. For Wilder it was the first time that he met with the “Bernese Mountain Dog Gang” but he blended in fast and was keen to say hello to all the dogs, which besides the large BMDs also included a Cocker Spaniel and two Terriers. Wilder is now in adolescence which makes it even more important that we continue with positive socialisation and let him meet friendly dogs of different breeds, sex and age to experience fun things together on a regular basis. Hilary is a great asset in these situations, as her positive outlook on life is passed on to Wilder and to the dogs that she meets. “The more the merrier” seems to be her motto!
The forest walk was combined with balancing exercises on rocks and fallen trees – a good mix of mental and physical exercise which made it more interesting for the dogs.
Wilder had completely forgotten how to walk nicely on a leash, he just wanted to be up front!
Hilary was more calm yesterday, maybe she is growing up, or maybe it was just a temporary thing 😉
Luna and Hilary posing together on a rock.
Nellie and Precious working on their balance skills in the background.
The BMD group is a great place to socialise our dogs with calm and friendly “big black dogs”.
The whole gang, minus two photographers.
Kjerstin and Johan’s Wednesday gatherings is all about having fun with your dog, using positive and creative training methods and not be afraid to try new things. After the walk we all sat down for a 10-minute relaxation and massage exercise – a perfect opportunity to train “Settle Down” with our two Duracell dogs 😉 Thanks everyone for a great time, we hope to see you again soon!
Last week it was premiere for Wilder at puppy class. We have been looking around for puppy classes since May but apparently Skellefteå (our nearest city) is a black hole when it comes to puppy classes. Finally, we found a class in Umeå, about 1.5h from home. It is fair distance to travel each week but going to class is so important for a Malamute that we think it’s worth it. The class is led by Hanna Vernerlund who runs Hanna’s Hundsupport. We have been to Hanna’s classes before and really appreciate her methods which are based on positive reinforcement and a good understanding of the behaviour of different breeds. She also has really good technical skills as a trainer, which means that we get lots of tools that we can use at home. Wilder has been to two classes so far and is really doing well on every level. He’s an outgoing and relaxed puppy who is happy to explore new environments and try new things. He is also very food oriented, which makes him easy to train and reward. Sue and Roy have done a wonderful job socializing Wilder before he travelled to Sweden and it is a real luxury to receive such a well-adjusted pup 🙂
There is quite a mix of breeds at the class; Alaskan Malamute, Schapendoes, Greyhound, Beagle, White Swiss Shepherd Dog, Coton de Tuléar, Irish Setter and a Saluki. The age range is 10 weeks to 6 months, which means that Wilder is one of the oldest (and largest) pups in the class. We actually think this is a good thing, as it gives him an opportunity to socialize with breeds that are smaller than him, and learn to play with younger pups – something which he rarely gets a chance to do at home.
To the first class we were asked to bring an interactive toy along for playtime and reward but it was a bit hard to get Wilder interested in the toy when there were so many interesting puppies to look at instead…
At this point in his development, Wilder is definitely more interested in treats than he is in toys.
At yesterday’s class we trained nose work both on the ground and on tarp. None of the pups hesitated to explore the tarp that was blowing in the wind but from experience I know that these things can change quickly if the puppy enters into a fear stage. So far we haven’t noticed Wilder going through any obvious fear stages but the second fear stage can occur quite late during adolescence (approx. 6-14 months) so it’s still possible that we will see some of that apprehensiveness later.
We also had a couple of timeout sessions during class and all the pups did much better relaxing yesterday than they did at their first class. As you can see – Wilder rested on top of my legs, that way he made sure he wouldn’t miss any activities if he happened to fall asleep.
Wilder is very friendly and gentle with the other pups – here together with a young Beagle boy.
Fredrik and Wilder said hello to Mischa, a pretty 4-month-old White Swiss Shepherd girl.
Plenty of treats are consumed at every class and since Wilder eats dog food from Orijen, we were excited to see that this brand now also offers its own range of freeze dried treats. I will write a full review about these treats when we have had the chance to try some more of the different flavours available. To yesterday’s class we brought along a bag of Orijen Brome Lake Duck Singles that are made from 100% pure boneless duck and duck liver. What I particularly like about these treats is that they are made from free-run (cage-free) duck. Since dogs are carnivores who need to eat meat it feels good knowing that the animals they are eating have at least had a good and natural life.
This is what the Orijen Treats look like. They are lightweight and very different from any other treats we have tried in terms of texture. The lovely smell makes me (almost) want to try one myself 😉
Yummy treats equal a very focused pup 😉
Wilder and our other seven Mals really love these treats and when Mischa sniffed Fredrik’s hand after class she went wild too – can I have some of that?!!
Wilder’s puppy class will be going on for another 4 weeks so I’m sure he will be learning a lot this summer and have plenty of positive experiences (which is our main reason for attending classes). To next week’s class we are instructed to bring a tracking lead – I guess that means more nose work, or maybe we’ll be working on improving our recall using a long lead?
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 🙂
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.
A snapshot from Wednesday’s dog walk. Titan is being told by eight-year-old “Kajsa” that “Just because you’re bigger doesn’t mean you’re the boss!!” Wish I had caught Titan’s surprised expression on film as it was SO funny!! 🙂
Have a good weekend everyone!
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 🙂
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…