Oct 19, 2011 Issue #21 Published by Sue Skiff
A NOTE FROM SUE
Okay, so I'm 8 days late. No excuses.
After 28 nights of house sitting, I returned to my own home Monday nights. My cats have not relented in letting me know how much they missed me. They all want to sleep on top of me. I missed them, too, and I have told them so.
Thia issue gives reasons for dog crate training. In addition, I have written a sort-of story about my experiences looking for clues in the death of fawns.
Please let me know what
YOU would like me to write about.
Or, send me your comments, complaints, or questions.
See you next week!.
Four Reasons for Crate Training a Dog
The first time that I ever encountered a dog crate was when I was in graduate school. Although at the time I was a wildlife biologist, I did dog sitting, and dog walking, for a woman for extra money. She had three dogs, and she always wanted the two younger dogs crated when no human was present at her apartment. The two dogs shared a crate. I have to admit that I was not so comfortable with the idea of caging dogs, but I did as instructed. And, it was easy to do. All that I had to do was go to the place where the treats were, and the two dogs would rush right into their crate.
Now, I train dogs, and teach others to train their own dogs, and I highly recommend the use of crates. So, here are some reasons that the use of a crate is a good idea.
REASON 1: IT HELPS WITH HOUSE TRAINING
If your dog is still learning where the proper place to eliminate is, a crate is a big help. Dogs generally won’t eliminate where they sleep. Put your dog in its crate during potty training, then, take it outside to go to the bathroom regularly. In this way, your dog will only have the chance to eliminate where it’s appropriate, and will therefore develop a habit of going there. This is the easy way to potty train your dog.
REASON 2: IT HELPS TO PREVENT PROBLEMS
Using a crate when your dog is initially learning the rules of the house will help you to prevent problems. Put appropriate chew items in the crate, so that your dog develops a habit of chewing on what you want it to chew on. Keep your dog in a crate whenever you can’t be watching it, and it will not have the chance to develop any bad habits. In the meantime, teach it your rules and boundaries, so that your dog can develop good habits.
REASON 3: IT MAKES IT EASIER FOR YOUR DOG IF IT HAS TO STAY AT THE VET OR TRAVEL
Dog crate training teaches your dog that being in a small, confined space is safe and comfortable. Therefore, if your dog ever has to spend a night at the vet, or travel by plane, it will handle being caged much better if it has been crate trained.
REASON 4: IT GIVES YOUR DOG A SAFE PLACE TO BE WHEN THINGS GET STRESSFUL
Many dogs need a place where they can feel safe, and that allows them to get away from household activities that seem stressful to them. A crate gives a dog a place to go when the kids are being “too much” for it. It can also be used at such stressful, to a dog, times as Halloween and July 4.
There you have it, some good reasons for using a crate with your dog. Go ahead; give it a shot.
In my time as a research wildlife biologist, I studied mule deer fawns twice. The first time was a volunteer summer job working for the National Forest Service (USFS) in Sierra National Forest, east of Fresno. The second time was a paid job, also for the USFS, as well as for the California Dept. of Fish and Game (DFG), in Modoc National Forest; just south of Oregon, and just west of Nevada.
The two jobs were quite similar. I started both jobs by driving around with others, looking for fawns. When one was located, we’d stop, catch the fawn (this is easy to do when they are in their first couple of weeks of life, since their defense is to lie still and camouflage), do some measurements, weigh it, and put a radio collar on it. Each fawn had its own radio frequency, which was how it was identified in our data.
Once a fawn was collared, it was monitored daily to make sure that it was still alive. The collars were equipped with a mercury switch which was triggered every time that the fawns moved. If a fawn didn’t move for a certain period of time, the switch wouldn't be activated, causing the collar to beep twice as fast as it did when the fawn was moving. This was known as a “mortality signal.” Not to sound morbid, but it was exciting to get a mortality signal. That meant that I got to get out of the truck, and become a detective.
The first part of the detective work was to locate the collar. I say “the collar,” rather than “the fawn,” because there was always the possibility that that would be all that was fond. Indeed, the collars were held together partly by surgical tubing which stretched as the fawns grew, so that they wouldn’t be harmed by the collars. As it got stretched, and exposed to the stresses of the weather, the tubing was weakened, and eventually broke, causing the collar to fall off. But, that didn’t happen until winter. The exciting time to get a mortality signal was in the summer, because that meant that the fawn was probably dead. I know, it’s sad, but that’s a fact of life in the wild; 75-80% of wild animals die in their first year of life.
Once a collar was located, it was time to really do the detective work; a sort of wildlife CSI. I had to find out what had happened to the fawn. It was part of the job. It was hardest if there was just a whole fawn lying there dead with no marks on it. Next hardest were the collars found by themselves with their tubing intact. Usually, though, there would be clues. No, there was no dusting for finger prints. However, I was looking for clues to a killer.
What was the killer? Was it a bear? Or, maybe it was a coyote. Or could it have been a mountain lion? The clues were there, you just needed to know how to look for them. The most obvious clue to look for was tracks. Unfortunately, the dry soil of California is not the best for track making, so I can’t say that I always found any.
If there were no tracks, then a little knowledge of each predator was needed to be able to piece together what had happened. For instance, bears generally don’t leave any remains of their prey. However, they almost always poop near where they have dined. And, there is no mistaking bear poop; it’s big, and it has a distinctive sickly sweet smell to it. Finding bear poop near an intact, empty collar was a good indication that a bear had had a fawn meal.
Next, there are mountain lions. There are two clues that a cat has been involved in a fawn death. The first is if the killing injuries are on the throat, since cats kill by suffocation. The second clue is if the remains are buried. Cats don’t like to leave any evidence out in the open; they bury it. Once, I even found just a collar that had been buried by a mountain lion, without any fawn remains.
On the other hand, dogs are messy. Coyotes often leave bits of prey, particularly entrails, lying around on the ground. I remember finding pieces of one fawn that had been left over several square yards of area by a coyote. Also, wounds to the rear end of a fawn are more likely to be from a dog than from a cat.
Even with all the clues that I had I could never document anything better than a probable cause of death. It was always possible that a fawn was eaten by something other than what had caused its death. Still, I look back on my CSI days fondly. It has taught me to look at nature in a whole different way.
It’s part of life in the 21st century. You get the kids off to school, work all day, pick the kids up at daycare, make dinner, and collapse. But, what about the dog? How do you find the time to train it to be a good citizen? Maybe, you managed to get your dog into a puppy kindergarten class, and then a basic obedience class. But, you really didn’t have time to practice the way the instructor wanted you to, and now, well now, it’s all kind of fallen by the wayside.
You know that your dog can do better. Perhaps, your dog has some behavior issues. Whether or not they’re serious issues, they make your life harder, don’t they?
So, what do you do when you’re already stretched, and you know your dog needs more? The answer is “day training.” Day training starts with a meeting with me where you describe your dog training needs, and your dog’s behavior issues. I then come to your house for an hour or so, on agreed upon days, to train your dog. You get to get on with your life, while your dog gets training and attention from a professional. And, that training and attention is customized to your and your dog’s exact needs.
Maintaining what your dog learned is also built into the day training program. At the end of each week of training, I meet with you to go over what your dog has learned, as well as what you need to do to maintain the learning. After the agreed upon number of weeks has elapsed, I return for a follow-up or two, to make sure that you and your dog are on the same page, and everyone’s happy. For more information on day training, visit
my dog training website
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