WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins
WE PLANT THE "SEEDS OF IDEAS" IN DOG OWNERS MINDS - THESE IDEAS EVENTUALLY BLOSSOM INTO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF DOG BEHAVIOUR - Sally Hopkins

*interesting behaviours observed

We have not found reference to the behaviours observed and described in any literature to date. As many may recognise from these training methods, we were actually training the human as the dog quickly knows what is required of them or they learn, usually, much quicker than the Owner/handler. With little pressure on the dog and the dog being away from humans most of the time when participating in these Games, the dogs were allowed to choose how they performed with these interesting observations.

 

Because this is a structured method of training, the Owners found it easy to learn and remember without being “overfaced” with too much to do and remember. It was good to see how the Owners were now understanding and doing more activities with their dogs.

 

But the very big and unexpected reward from the human side was seeing how 2 “autistic” children were able to come to this training and leart at their own pace. This helped them to slowly build up confidence to talk about their dog to the other Dog Gamers and also to talk about these experiences back at school, whereas they were usually quiet and reticent.

  • A couple of dogs chose to be ambidextrous;
  • a dog was very aware and wary of another dog even 30 – 40 yards away and not in sight;
  • another dog chose to run close to the wings of the jumps; 
  • another dog curved away as far away as possible X and Bobby;
  • hand-shy dog coming for harness-touch (called Henry - vet recommended pts, aggressive dog but we showed that it wasn't)
  • REGGIE - pheromones
  • 2 TERRIERS blind & not blind

 

OUR DOGS - BEHAVIOURS,

 

Dogs being ambidextrous

In our many years of experience with our dogs and others in agility and flyball, we would see dogs turning naturally to their left or right. When we saw a dog deviate from this, our reaction (and others) was "injury, check the dog out". A close examination of their leg joints and the rest of their bodies did not indicate an increase in skin/joint temperature (hence blood flow) in that area compared to the rest of the body.  And so we would take precautions by resting the dog.

Our observations in Dog Games training showed us something very different.

We first noticed this with a German Shepherd (GSD) bitch. Working through, RECALL, BOUNCE and HAND we didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, not that we were looking for anything. But when she was doing ROUND (send away to run around a traffic cone, an action similar to what is required in flyball), in the 5 runs out of 5, for the first 3 runs she chose to go around the cone in one direction and for the next 1 she chose to run around the cone in the opposite direction. Our reaction was as above, check her out but she seemed to be ok but nevertheless she was rested. And a note was made on her Record sheet.

When she came to the next training session doing the same Stage of the same Game, we kept a close eye on her this time. Again she performed the first 3 runs, turning in one direction and the next run she turned the other way. She appeared to be in no discomfort and so (without interfering with her or distracting her) she continued on her 5th run and turned the same way as she did for the 4th run; so 3 turns one way and 2 turns the other. This was noted on her record sheet.

We kept a close eye on her as she progressed through ROUND to BOUNCE & ROUND and she continued to exhibit this behaviour. We should have videoed this but didn't. Also, we didn't keep a record of how she favoured turning to her left or to her right.

Unfortunately, not long after this she was involved in an horrific accident with an vehicle and almost lost both front legs but the vet was able to save them with plates implanted. She came back to Dog Games about 18 months later and we gave her very simple things to do. The cause of her injury was the retractable lead just shattered when she lunged and she went careering under a car. 

We observed and noted another 3 bitches of differing breeds exhibited this ambidexterous behaviour over the next couple of years. Then we came across a boy border collie that exhibited this behaviour. 

 

 

Dog curving away as far away as possible

We trained our border collie (Bobby, male, cattle dog, 9 years old, strong eye, strong, presence) in Lane C doing HAND (Silver), where he ran down the Lane and picked up a rubber ball and returned it to his Owner.

In Lane A, another border collie (i will call X, rescued bitch, about 5 years old) was doing ROUND (Silver). From a human's point of view, in appearance, she didn't seem to be threatening BUT ........

Deliberately X was released in her own Lane A shortly before Bobby was released in his own Lane C. X ran down the middle of her Lane, around the cone and back to her owner for rewards and praise - no problem.

Bobby ran down his Lane but as close to the netting as he could (ie as far away from the bitch as he could). He picked up the ball and came back, again, running as close to the netting as possible.

This run was done once, ie 1 run. The trainers had a chat about what they had just seen and we decided to run just Bobby on his own to see what he told us.  X remained in her Lane and was distracted by being fussed by her owner.

Bobby repeated the reaction, running down the Lane but along the netting, being as far away from X as possible. He was able to focus on what he was required to do despite this serious reaction/behaviour.

We decided not to put Bobby through this again. He was taken out of the Lane and walked back to his car via a very round about route, keeping him well away from X. We are not sure why Bobby had this reaction to X. It may have been pheromones or stress (possibly even her emotions).  X didn't seem to be affected by this.

 

Very aware and wary of another dog

I had a 4 year old border collie bitch (called BB, very good body language, very confident in most circumstances and often took the lead over from the boys when meeting new dogs on walks). At the end of a training session, having trained our last customer, we would clear away the equipment and ensure that the field was again safe if the farmer wanted to cut the grass or bring in a flock of sheep to keep the grass down.

During this time we would reward our pack of dogs (5 border collies, flat coated retriever and a small terrier) by doing Sprinkles(TM). Our pack was from 2 different households and had been walking together regularly for years. Any other dogs that were still left in the field could join in and we were careful how these new dogs were introduced to our pack. We found that this was an ideal (and careful) way of dogs being introduced to our pack of dogs.

When the bitch X (as mentioned above) came for training, the car was always parked well away from everyone else, close to location S (see Layout of field). The owner was happy to do this as X could be very reactive to other dogs walking close by.  For a Sprinkles session, some treats would be scattered around the S position for X to do her own thing, probably more than 40 yards away from the other dogs. Meanwhile the other dogs were doing Sprinkles across the rest of the field from O, to R and across to Q. But, despite enjoying Sprinkles, whenever X was in the same field, BB would retreat to the car and not move out of it despite the distance between them. X was usually downwind from BB.

Really interesting behaviour which we didn't take any further because X and her family began to have other commitments as there were young children in the family.

 

An attraction to Jump wings

When a small breed of dog (Merlin) came to do Dog Games training with us this was a bit of a challenger. I had to ensure that the grass was regularly cut because of his size. Also we had to take account of the height of poles on the jumps for BOUNCE, and also the size of the retrieve article (HAND),

When doing BOUNCE, we placed the jump poles on the ground so that Merlin could see them and jump over them. Although he could have stepped over them, he chose to jump over them - Good boy.

When he ran away from his Owner/handler down the Lane jumping over the poles on the ground, he chose to run with his right shoulder close to the jumps' wings. On his return run, he again chose to cross the Lane and run with his right shoulder close to the wings back to his owner/handler. 

Having seen this, we ensured that he started from the middle of the Lane in case there was a bias in sending him off. But he jumped the first pole on the ground and then moved towards the wings to continue the Game.  We also started him off as far to the left as seemed reasonable but he still persisted in repeating this behaviour.

The repetition of a behaviour gives a dog confidence that he is doing it correctly and he will then be happy to make slight changes to the environment to get back to where his confidence was higher. 

 

What is the focal point of lap dog's eyes that bulge (what is the correct terminology for this?) Anatomically, these eyes are obviously different to a sight hound's eye. From such a low position, he is always looking up at humans, literally everything is bigger than him. Maybe, the wings (4 foot high, coloured yellow and black) could have been what he could focus on

 

  • hand-shy dog coming for harness-touch (called Henry - vet recommended pts, aggressive dog but we showed that it wasn't)
  • REGGIE - pheromones
  • 2 TERRIERS blind & not blind

 

  • OUR DOGS - BEHAVIOURS,

    water bowl

 

see also Scents in training lane