A few days after Christmas, my husband and I discovered ourselves going through a problem: Our Australian Kelpie, Kai, was romping across the yard when all of a sudden he got here up three-legged lame, placing no weight in anyway on his left hind leg. Kelpies are an intense, high-energy herding breed (I describe them as “Border Collies on velocity”), and although Kai is fairly good about short-term confinement, I suspected that he had torn his cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), which could require weeks of restricted exercise.
It turned out that the damage was even worse than I initially thought. Radiographs confirmed a shattered calcaneus bone (pronounced “cal-kay-knee-us”) in his hock – and my veterinarian knowledgeable me that its restore would require the companies of an orthopedic surgeon.
By some miracle, I discovered a veterinary follow with an orthopedist who might take Kai’s case immediately. We rushed Kai to the clinic, an hour away, and returned dwelling. The surgeon referred to as later that afternoon and mentioned the surgical procedure had gone properly, even though she had by no means seen a calcaneus shattered that badly, requiring wires and plenty of tiny screws to place it again collectively. She added that I might decide up Kai the following day – and he would wish six to eight weeks of restricted exercise.
I suspected that such a prolonged interval of inactivity would put even our good-natured, well-behaved Kelpie to the take a look at. I started digging out all of the enrichment toys I personal and researching all of the stationary workout routines I might consider.
Three weeks and three bandage adjustments into his incarceration, Kai’s leg is therapeutic properly. I’m feeling assured sufficient within the canine-brain-tiring ways I’ve undertaken to maintain Kai quiet that I’m sharing them with you! I hope you don’t have a medical motive to should put them to make use of – inclement climate that retains you cooped up can be a “higher” motive! – however if you happen to do, no less than a number of of those instruments and stratagems ought to give you the results you want and your canine.
WORK FOR FOOD
I’m a giant fan of food-dispensing toys that may be given to bored canine to roll round, such because the Roll-A-Deal with Ball. However on this case, food-dispensing toys that transfer are verboten, because the affected person shouldn’t be supposed to maneuver round a lot. Happily, there are many choices for stationary treat-containing toys and puzzles:
* Kong. The traditional Kong toy, made by the Kong Firm, is a well-established favourite of many canine house owners and trainers. Whereas some individuals stuff them with kibble and glue it in place by stirring in some peanut butter or yogurt, I wish to stuff Kongs with Kai’s moist, home-cooked meals, which doesn’t work properly in most treat-dispensing toys.
To make extracting the meals take even longer, fill the Kong with moist meals (canned, home-prepared, or rehydrated) and freeze the stuffed Kong in a single day.
* Toppl. Made by West Paw Design, the Toppl is one other chew-resistant toy that may be filled with a home-prepared moist eating regimen. The opening to those toys is wider than the opening of a Kong, which makes it simpler to stuff, clear,and for the canine to lick out all of the meals.
Kai works to unravel a 12-year-old picket puzzle, Nina Ottosson’s “Canine Twister”. The canine should use his nostril, and/or paws to show the discs, which reveal treats in hidden compartments.
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* Puzzle toys. Swedish native Nina Ottosson had two Bouvier des Flandres that she used to coach and present, however after having two infants a 12 months and a half aside, she discovered herself attempting to plot toys to maintain her canine occupied with much less precise time to train them. She crafted picket puzzles that contained hidden compartments that held treats, which may very well be revealed and eaten by a canine who pushed levers, lifted blocks, turned discs, and so forth.
Ottosson’s innovations labored so properly, she began an organization to fabricate and promote them. Finally, she licensed Outward Hound to make plastic variations of her designs. I’ve a bath stuffed with Ottosson’s unique picket puzzle toys, in addition to a few of the newer plastic ones from Outward Hound – and Kai is attending to play with all of them!
A decade in the past, puzzle toys for canine had been a rarity. Now the market is flooded with them, some fairly modern. The psychological train they supply may be as tiring as bodily train. Do an web seek for “canine puzzle toys” and see what you get!
You’ll be able to see my evaluation of Nina Ottosson’s unique picket toys within the June 2008 difficulty of WDJ (“A Puzzling Exercise”). For different interactive toy options, see “The Greatest Meals-Meting out Toys,” WDJ April 2019.
There are numerous retail sources for snuffle mats, nevertheless it’s really straightforward to could make one your self. Listed here are some directions for this, thehonestkitchen.com/weblog/diy-make-your-dog-or-cat-a-snuffle-matt/
* Snuffle mats. These are one other of my favourite comparatively new additions to the dog-training world, obtainable in astonishing selection. If you happen to feed dry meals, you possibly can feed your canine’s meals in these. I put a number of small treats in mine for Kai to seek out and he loves the search.
* Gradual feeder bowls. These are bowls with deep grooves or different obstacles so your canine has to work to get the meals out. I’ve simply ordered one for Kai. For a evaluation of some totally different designs, see “Savor the Taste,” WDJ November 2020.
* DIY Muffin Tin. Kai’s having enjoyable with this one too – and I can feed his meals in it. Simply take a muffin tin, drop treats or smear moist meals within the cups, and canopy the cups with tennis balls. Then let him work at eradicating the balls from the cups to entry the treats beneath.
Video games that require plenty of psychological problem-solving are maybe much more tiring for canine than they’re for us! Happily, they are often simply as entertaining as they’re exhausting for a convalescing canine.
In case your canine turns into adept at studying colours, shapes, and object discrimination, you could in some unspecified time in the future have the ability to let you know to pick the yellow sq. or the blue ball from a stack of toys. Deanne Davenport is proven right here working with Kai to acknowledge colours at “Cognition Academy” at Miller’s coaching middle in Maryland. Photograph taken pre-pandemic and properly earlier than Kai’s damage.
* Coloration discrimination. Sure, you possibly can educate your canine to acknowledge colours! Then you possibly can ask him to the touch a goal of a specified coloration or fetch a ball of a sure coloration. Canines see blue and yellow properly, so these are the perfect colours to work with. It’s thought that canine see different colours as shades of brown, so you could possibly add yet one more coloration (and maybe black and white).
Begin by asking your canine to “Wait,” then current one coloration (I exploit coloured paper plates). If I used to be educating a canine to establish blue, I’d say “Blue,” pause, after which say “Contact” (you need “Contact” to be the cue, not “Blue”).
Subsequent, repeat the identical course of with yellow.
After a number of repetitions with every coloration individually, current each colours and ask him to the touch one coloration. (If he heads for the unsuitable one simply whisk it away, reset, and take a look at once more.) At first, place the one you’re going to ask for a bit of nearer to your canine. As he’s persistently profitable at touching the colour named, regularly current the 2 decisions extra evenly, till he can choose the right coloration with out the offset help.
* Form discrimination. Educate your canine the phrase for a number of fundamental shapes. The method is identical as with colours. Current one form first and title it, then current the opposite, after which the 2 shapes collectively, offset at first.
* Object discrimination. Canines can even be taught the phrase for some fundamental objects, whether or not it’s a wide range of toys (akin to ball, disk, bone, or toy alligator). Kai is fairly good at indicating named objects, akin to Ball, Roomba, and Stuffy.
No shock – the method is identical as above. Current one object and title it, then current the following object, after which the 2 objects collectively, offset at first.
For extra element on how you can educate these cognitive discrimination video games, see “Are Canines Cognitive?” WDJ October 2017.
This canine is studying to repeat an lively habits (strolling across the cone). As a result of Kai must be as inactive as doable, he’s been studying to repeat extra stationary behaviors , akin to “cross your paws”, nodding “sure” and shaking his head “no”
* Imitation. Educate your canine to “do what you do,” imitating actions akin to a bow, a yawn, or a comically vigorous “no” nodding of the top. It is a rather more complicated cognitive problem – and extra brain-tiring than the discrimination workout routines.
Right here’s a simplified description of how you can prepare this: It’s best if you happen to begin with a habits he is aware of properly on verbal cue. Let’s use “spin” for example. Have your canine wait in his beginning place when you reveal the human model of a “spin.” Return to your begin place, say “Copy!” Pause for a second or two, then give his cue for the “spin” habits. Repeat as much as thrice in a row.
Then, repeat the method with a second habits – say, backing up. Ask him to attend in a beginning place, again up your self, say “Copy!” pause, after which give his cue for “again up.” Repeat this a number of occasions.
Then, repeat the method with a 3rd habits.
Lastly, begin randomly alternating these till he begins to supply the right habits on the “Copy” cue with no need the verbal cue for that habits.
Be aware: If you happen to proceed with the identical habits too many occasions in a row, he’ll simply suppose “Copy” is a brand new cue for the habits you’re demonstrating, relatively than a brand new coaching idea.
For a extra full description of the imitation protocol, see “Practice Your Canine Utilizing Imitation,” WDJ October 2013.
* Counting. That is positively an upper-level cognition sport. A protocol for educating “amount recognition” was developed by famous coach Ken Ramirez, the previous govt vice chairman of animal care and coaching on the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, now the chief vice chairman and chief coaching officer with Karen Pryor Clicker Coaching. Right here’s a really simplified rationalization of Ramirez’s protocol:
The canine’s “solutions” of 1 by 5 are made obtainable to him within the type of small boards which can be sprinkled with one, two, three, 4, or 5 black dots. The “query” is put to the canine within the type of a tray, upon that are organized one, two, three, 4, or 5 objects. The canine is proven the tray, laden with objects, after which requested “What number of?” The canine signifies the variety of objects he noticed on the tray touching the board with the identical variety of dots.
To see a few movies of Ramirez discussing this brain-game, see kenramireztraining.com/media/.
Zeus, a shelter canine from Ohio, is studying how you can do a “chin relaxation” in one in every of Pat Miller’s Conduct Modification Academies. A canine’s understanding of this habits may be very useful for low-stress, low- or no-restraint veterinary examinations.
You can too enrich your canine’s restricted surroundings by coaching him to do a wide range of stationary behaviors, akin to:
• Paw Focusing on: Educate him to the touch his paw to a chosen goal.
• Nostril Focusing on: Educate him to the touch his nostril to a chosen goal. (When he is aware of paw and/or nostril concentrating on you possibly can educate him extra low-activity enjoyable stuff like pushing a speaking button or gentle button, and taking part in a kiddie piano.)
• Say “Sure” and “No” – Educate him to nod his head up and down and to shake his head left and proper.
• Wait: Educate him to not eat a deal with inside attain till you give him permission.
• Steadiness a Deal with on Your Nostril: That is best if he already is aware of “wait.” Then begin with the deal with on the bridge of his nostril (between his eyes). As he grows extra superior at holding nonetheless, you possibly can regularly transfer the deal with towards the tip of his nostril.
It is a nice alternative to work on helpful cooperative-care procedures such because the Bucket Recreation (featured in “Care to Cooperate,” WDJ February 2021) or a “chin relaxation,” the place he’d relaxation his chin on a rolled-up towel when you carry out an examination or husbandry procedures. Each a chin relaxation and the Bucket Recreation are carried out with the mutual understanding that you’ll cease the process if he appears away from the bucket or lifts his chin off the towel. He learns that you’ll not proceed till he offers the “okay to proceed” sign of wanting on the bucket or resting his chin once more.
Although Kai shouldn’t be imagined to train, he does should stroll to go to the lavatory a number of occasions a day. So I determine that we would as properly make use of those rest room breaks as finest we are able to, with a peaceful, quiet, gradual on-leash stroll.
Accustomed to tearing by the woods and throughout the fields at prime velocity once we go climbing, Kai is tolerating these brief walks and I’m loving them. It amazes me that he likes to face like a statue and simply have a look at and odor our environment, for minutes at a time, solely his nostrils transferring as he picks up scent and watches for motion. He has at all times loved scent work, and it’s enjoyable to observe him detect and observe a scent. Typically I’m going exterior earlier than I take him out and “salt” our strolling path with treats for him to seek out.
No matter you do to cross this quiet time along with your convalescing canine, relatively than agonizing over the ache of managing her restricted exercise, attempt to breathe deeply and revel in doing enrichment actions along with your canine. You would possibly discover out later that this was a few of the most rewarding time you’ve spent collectively.
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