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The Singapore Dog Lifestyle Blog

Category: Training (Page 2 of 8)

How to find a positive dog trainer in Singapore

Because this is a longer post, here’s the breakdown of what is being covered:

  1. The naggy introduction :P
  2. Dog training 101: Positive reinforcement – one of the quadrants in Skinner’s Operant Conditioning model
  3. How do I find a basic obedience course works for me?
  4. Who are the positive trainers in Singapore?
  5. Three questions to ask the dog trainer
  6. Asking ourselves the three questions
  7. More responses from Dog trainers and a dog owner [videos]

The naggy introduction :P

When we adopted Donna, we found that she had pretty bad thunder phobia. That made the quality of life for both the humans and the dog really sub-standard. When you adopt a dog, you take on a responsibility and commitment which means you can’t throw the dog back to the shelter just like that.

But given my own temperament and shortcomings, there was no way living with a thunder phobic dog could be good for either human or dog psychologically.

The truth, at one point, Mr P did wonder if we should just return Donna back to the shelter because her thunder phobia was just taking a toll on both of us.

Now, if your dog is already pacing around, climbing furniture, fear pee-ing because the weather got her all panicky, you can’t just stop her and push her to lie flat on the floor and call it “calm submissive”. It doesn’t work that way. (Note: I didn’t do that, but I recall an episode on TV when some guy was jerking a dog on his prong collar until dog stopped prancing from separation anxiety and just stayed very still on his bed and the guy called it being “calm”. If it was Donna, I would have called it being “overwhelmed by fear”, because that’s how she reacts to anything too threatening. )

But anyway, I don’t remember the timelines well, but I do remember a time when I was still new to managing a dog and trying to understand this training method called Positive Reinforcement and how it could possibly help Donna.

Positive reinforcement – one of the quadrants in Skinner’s Operant Conditioning model

Research told me that this was proposed by this guy called Skinner. B. F. Skinner was a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. More about Skinner.

Fun fact
During WWII, Skinner worked for the military on an experimental project to use pigeons to guide missiles. – Havard Film Archive

Pigeons playing ping pong

So anyway, Skinner’s studies resulted in the approach he called Operant Conditioning, which described the following four quadrants – Positive punishment, Negative punishment, Positive reinforcement, Negative reinforcement. More about this in A Brief Survey of Operant Behaviour.

The Four Quadrants can be used to describe any action a person/living thing takes towards another living thing – human, dog, cat, pigeons. And what Skinner did was to study the consequences on the behaviour that the action was directed towards.

In the context of dog management and training, this is what the Four Quadrants can mean:

copyright lili chin
Note: This image of Lili Chin’s is pending an update, you can see her notes on the wordings she is intending to update here on her original download page. Image is some rights reserved and can be used for non-commercial use with attribution.

 

How do I find a basic obedience course that works for me?

Now, I did the research and reading up on my own because frankly, I wanted to send Donna for Basic Obedience Training since quite a long time back but the prospect of finding a trainer we are comfortable with was daunting.

How do I qualify a trainer? I didn’t have the necessary knowledge to decide who is potentially good or bad for Donna. Who really knows his stuff? Who is really just gonna be giving me unsubstantiable marketing spiel about his “street cred”. Like come on, that guy on TV has tons of “street cred”, no?

But after much reading and interacting with Donna, where I arrived at today is this:

I wanted a trainer who can

  • read and understand Donna’s body language and behaviour
  • teach me to train her in a fun (for both human and dog), force-free way
  • correct the mistakes I am committing because much of what I am doing is based off Internet video tutorials from overseas positive trainers, so it’s really my own interpretation and I may not see my own blind spots. 

I wanted it to be positive because I see it as the gentlest way of training my pet dog without causing her even more stress.

  • Not a trainer who requires Donna to be on a choke chain from lesson one.
  • Not a sometimes “positive” trainer who uses a mixed bag approach from the toolbox where it suits him.
  • But basically, a trainer who understands the science and the theory and who has applied it in his work and believes in it.

Because who else to learn from but someone who is truly passionate about it? Who else is better at motivating and inspiring the dog owner, than a trainer who is totally committed towards the chosen approach?

 

The truth,

The positive dog trainer in Singapore is a rare animal

Somehow the stars fell into place and we managed to have a group of friends come together wanting to form a private training group with a Positive Trainer.

We contacted all the trainers in the AVA (Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore) accredited list and guess what – none of them (who responded) are positive trainers. Zero.

Who is a potentially Positive Trainer in Singapore?
Based on the information our group pooled together:

I used “potentially” because I haven’t met with them personally and I have never worked with them in real life.

And no, they are all not AVA-accredited. So if you want to get one of these breeds in the Second Schedule, you probably have to consult with AVA if you may use non AVA-accredited trainers for the obedience training.

 

Three questions to ask the dog trainer

So, the reason why I’m writing all these today is because right now there is this interesting event going on called the World Dog Trainers’ Motivation Transparency Challenge.

Quoting the dogthusiast,

Jean Donaldson of The Academy For Dog Trainers noted there is a disconnect between the marketing language used by dog trainers, and what they actually do in practice… Do not trust a trainer’s marketing on websites on its own.

Exactly the same questions I had when I first started looking for a prospective trainer, how do I qualify them? Sure, the four trainers I listed above all claimed on their websites to be positive.

But how do I know they are really positive?

The World Dog Trainers’ Motivation Transparency Challenge seeks to highlight exactly that. It suggests to you three simple questions to ask the trainer you are sussing out:

1. What will happen to my dog if she gets it right?
2. What will happen to my dog if she gets it wrong?
3. Are there less invasive alternatives to what you propose?

I haven’t really had the time to look at a lot of the videos yet, but the questions do help you to determine which quadrant(s) the trainer says he employs for the proposed training. The rest then lies on your own comfort level with his answers and whether you think you can work well with him.

So in case you are interested in checking out the four positive trainers listed above, these are the three questions you can consider asking them. (Besides the checks on background profile and word of mouth effectiveness that we are likely to do when looking to hire somebody.)

 

So what do we do with Donna?

So after more than a year since we adopted Donna, we are finally enrolling in Basic Obedience Training. The training is positive, and we take it to mean force-free.

We haven’t really asked our trainer those three questions ourselves, haha! But in our conversations we understand she may use the following:

Positive reinforcement to reward desired behaviour

Negative punishment which means the dog is not rewarded because he did not perform the desired behaviour or action.

She won’t use the following:

Negative reinforcement can mean taking away a variable that could be distracting or “punishing” your dog in some way and so prevents him from the desirable behaviour.

Note, in some cases Negative reinforcement can be considered as undesirable. So do pay attention to what the trainer says in his answers to questions, and always ask when he uses jargon/terms that you don’t understand. Ask him to explain until you do.

But it is not all bad e.g. when Donna perceives a broom or mop leaning against a wall near her, she is more likely to be apprehensive and distracted and not respond to a command. This is because she worries that the “unstable” object will fall on her. Once the object is removed, she is no longer distracted and happier to sit, etc on command.

But what I would avoid are trainers who say they are “balanced trainers” and may use tactics from all four quadrants, particularly Positive punishment.

Positive punishment means the dog is punished when he does not perform the desired action or behaviour.

I say so because I already know the consequences I could get with Donna after more than a year of living with her. Note: This is my dog. Every dog is an individual, so what works with my dog may/ may not apply to yours.

So out of fun, here’s my own answers as a pet owner to the three questions:

1. What will happen to my dog if she gets it right?
She gets rewarded with a treat (positive reinforcement) so she knows this behaviour is encouraged and that she will get rewarded if/when she repeats.  And she is generally happy to repeat.

 

2. What will happen to my dog if she gets it wrong?
I tend to turn a blind eye when she gets it wrong. And wait to reward her when she gets it right.

I am aware that taking too long to reward or taking away the reward can cause her to show signs that she feels frustration. Depending on the context, the training may or may not engage her because of the frustration that is allowed to build.

So I try to avoid that to some degree, and make sure the frustration doesn’t build up to make it an entirely disagreeable experience for Donna nowadays. A lot of things are not life and death for her to learn right away. So when we get stuck, we try doing something else, and coming back to this at a later time.

Learning to set her up for success is an ongoing process. I have found it helpful to keep training sessions short so we can end on a positive note without her feeling bored or worse frustrated from it.

Sometimes I need to figure out how to distract her from the undesired behaviour or to lure her into performing the behaviour I want in order to capture it and reward her.

My experience is that if Donna perceives herself as being positively punished or forced into doing something, she cowers and shrinks back in fear.

She becomes hesitant to respond and so she does not learn as fast as she could have had she felt confident and encouraged to test and learn what works to get her more treats. So when I say “No”, she listens too well. She stops trying altogether.  So I consciously try not to positively punish her in that way.

 

3. Are there less invasive alternatives to what you propose?
I am a dog owner with only a year’s experience, so I’m definitely not an expert, so I have to agree with Eileen from Eileen and dogs!

I will get a better trainer than I am, and that is exactly why we are attending a Basic Obedience Course in October, more than a year after adopting Donna.

Sure Donna already knows her basic obedience stuff, but she’s not perfect and I’m looking forward to the new things we may  learn together in a high distraction environment with other dogs.

 

More responses from Trainers and a dog owner

There are a number of responses posted on the  World Dog Trainers’ Motivation Transparency Challenge facebook page. But if you only have the time for two or three, I would recommend: –

1) For beginners wondering what a positive trainer’s approach to training is,
I’m not familiar with this trainer, but his video is very easy to watch and understand compared to the others.

2) For dog owners who already have a basic understanding of positive training and some knowledge of what is *BAT (Behavioural Adjustment Training),
this video by Grisha Stewart from Ahimsa Dog Training in Seattle may be interesting.
*You can learn more about BAT here, there is also a Bat seminar coming up in Singapore in November that you can check out here

3) For dog owners who already have a basic understanding of positive training 
This video is softer in volume so it may be harder to catch what she is saying, but a fair bit of what I learn about fearful dogs and dog training actually comes from dog owner and blogger Eileen and Dogs, among others like Ahimsa mentioned above.

I found the videos via My imperfect dog who did a great job of narrowing them down for us on her post What happens if the dog gets it wrong. The comments on raising criteria are as interesting as the post so go take a look if you want to know more about the topic. :)

Updated

Here’s a video from Pup Pup n Away in Singapore.

 

Note: Skinner’s original operant conditioning model, when applied to dog training can be somewhat confusing because of the terms used, and how trainers interpret them. If you find I am mistaken or inaccurate in any way, I would very much like to be advised on the inaccuracies. Thanks!

Positive Training Blog Hop

Today, pet blogs that are interested in the topic of Positive Training can submit their blog links to the Positive Training Blog Hop.

This is so that we create an interest group around the topic and hopefully, help to spread wider awareness of Positive Training and how it can help pets, particularly sensitive ones that are quick to react in fear like Donna.

What exactly is Positive Training?

I’m testing myself here by typing out what I understand by the term. So please do feel free to correct me if I am wrong and set me right. :D

Positive training refers to training where the dog is not forced or coerced in anyway to perform a particular behaviour.

Rewards are an important part of positive training. Rewards…

1) make the training fun so that the dog is motivated to focus on the training.
2) encourages the dog to replicate the desired behaviour or trick in order to be rewarded.
3) helps dog look forward to future training sessions

Training is positive when…

1) dog is having fun with the training, with the appropriate relaxed body language

2) dog volunteers the behaviour or trick being trained because he wants the rewards

3) dog does not show signs of fear or distress, such as tensed body, ears pinned back against the head, tensed, closed mouth, whale eyes, looking away repeatedly and for long periods of time

4) dog does not offer the behaviour or trick being trained because he is forced to e.g. pushed on the rump to sit, pulled by the collar to correct barking, grabbed by the muzzle to stop growling. He does not offer the behaviour or trick because he wants to avoid punishment e.g. tug on the collar, a kick, being pushed down to lie flat on the floor

Looking at the above, I have to conclude that positive training is grounded in an understanding of dog behaviour and body language.

If a person is unable to tell if a dog is relaxed and happy versus tense and upset, if a person is unable to tell when a dog is being pushed to far that he will lash back or pull back into himself and become unresponsive, the person will find it hard to positive train a dog effectively.

I do think that the more I work at this, the better I get at reading and reacting to her body language.

Particularly when I film Donna on video, I am sometimes disturbed that I continue to stress her for too long, despite her repeatedly looking away and liplicking. Honestly, without the videos, I may not even be as aware of what I am doing. That’s one of the reasons why I love to video what we do as much as I can. Although that can be hard without a helper.


So, here’s a quick run through of what I have been doing with Donna in the past weeks using positive training:

Urban agility and Balancing skills
Urban Agility is a method of exercising your dog using public structural components and park furniture. Training with your dog to sit, trot along or jump over obstacles found in the urban environment helps with improving the dog’s agility and providing positive mental stimulation for the dog. When trained positively, the dog should gain greater confidence with navigating these obstacles. Click to read full article.


Are forcing the dog to balance things on her head?
Sometimes in social media, we see pictures of dogs who don’t look like happy campers balancing objects on their heads. They typically show pinned back ears, whale eyes, tense closed mouths, etc. How can we teach this trick to a dog positively so the pictures show a happy, smiling dog instead? Click to read full article


House manners: How does dog react to people at the door?
If your dog jumps at you, take a step back so the dog lands on the floor missing you. This is a no contact, force free method that ensures safety for both the human and the dog. But what if your house guests are afraid of dogs or just annoyed by what they perceive as a badly behaved dog? Guests don’t know how to manage the dog appropriately like you, so it makes a better experience for all if you train the dog how to behave in advance. Click to read full article


Positively reinforcing street cats not to react to Donna and vice versa

Sometimes, I bring down some fresh boiled meat and feed the pieces alternately to the street cats and Donna. Cat gets more the nearer he steps towards Donna. I’m trying to positively reinforce the kitties to see come over the dark side and see Donna friend! :P Click to read full article.


Wave left, wave right
Resuming teaching the training trick after we left off of it from last year. Last year, I was still not good at managing and more often than not can push her too far until it stops being fun. This year, I have become much better at breaking it up into small fun sessions.

Training. Keep it short, fun and yummy. Click to read full article.


Teaching dog to wear head accessories the fun way
While I was away, I bought Donna a pair of Doggles or doggie goggles. It was an impulse buy. :P
So now poor Donna has to start to learn to like wearing her new doggles :P Click to read full article.


This is the First Monday Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Cascadian Nomads, Dachshund Nola & Tenacious Little Terrier.


Three more doggy parkour ideas

Wrote a new post here on doggy parkour yesterday, and so I thought I’ll throw together some bonus material today :P

1. Running up to a target on a slope, stand/sit-stay and then back down again.


Landscape rock along slope

 

2. Explore different wall heights and textures. Safety first!


Narrow walking space on this wall due to the divider in the middle.


Focus on balance on this wall with a curved top, Macritchie Reservoir


Undulating wave wall makes for an interesting run, Ponggol Waterway


Really high wall, Ang Mo Kio park

 

 3. Obedience work on easy walls

Even if your dog is just starting out, walking along a low wall need not be boring. Add some obedience work into the mix as Niner  demonstrates in this video.

To learn more about doggy parkour for dogs, check out this post.

Caution: Please don’t try this with dog next to busy roads if your dog is not good at off leash obedience and recall. You can still work on easy things with the dog on a lead, as long as the lead and attached collar does not endanger the dog for example, if he happens to slip and fall.

In all cases, please make sure your dogs remain well hydrated and are comfortable with what you are trying to get them to do. :)

Doggy parkour for city dogs

canine urban agility doggy parkourCanine urban agility, also known as Doggy Parkour, is a really fun way of exercising your dog while you are out on a walk. I know how boring it gets, just following behind your dog, while she stops to sniff at every lamppost and every tree. So here’s what I did with Donna :P

Read More

Are we teaching or forcing the dog to balance things on her head?

So, I’ve never really tried to teach Donna to balance objects on her head, simply because she’s not comfortable with it:


Dogs don’t naturally balance things on their head from weliveinaflat on Vimeo.

As you can see, I can’t balance food on her head because her nose naturally orientates towards it and there’s no stopping her from fidgeting and trying to get to the food.

Like c’mon, it’s food, human!!

And Donna, like some dogs, actually is uncomfortable with things over her head. That’s one of the reasons why it is recommended to pet a strange dog under the chin or on the side of his body, rather than over the head.


This poster has been cropped with permission from Lili Chin DoggieDrawings.net, you can see the full poster here. Original usage terms here.

 

So I was pleasantly surprised when this happened:


The card is simply resting on her head and can be easily dislodged when she moves. 

Now after, I taught her to “relax” (link to video). It became one of her favourite things to do when she doesn’t know what I want and still wants to wheedle the treat out of me. She knows to relax means she needs to lie down with her chin on the floor.

I hadn’t realise it when I taught that to her, but it actually created the perfect opportunity for her to learn to stay still in a particular position. And that position was actually helpful for me to safely place things on her head. And since she knows her chin needs to be resting on the floor, she doesn’t move even with the items I place on her head.

Emboldened, I upped the level of difficulty by trying it out with treats. And it worked!


Donna “balancing” doggie biscuits.

Comparing both photos, I do think that she is a little bit less relaxed lying on the floor with treats on her head compared to the card. In the first photo where she balances the card, you can see her making eye contact and her ears are positioned forward on her head. She looks quite alert. But in the second photo, her ears are folding backwards and her eyes are looking away slightly. Can’t blame her since she could care less about the card but the food, from her perspective is definitely in the wrong place.

But basically I think we’re on the right track. The dog fidgets because she didn’t know that I want her to stay still in a particular position and balance things on her head. What she does know is that I am making her uncomfortable when I wave things near her head, so she moves to avoid them.

But when she is trained ahead of time and knows she needs to stay still in a particular position like relax, she doesn’t move to avoid the objects I’m placing on her head!

But I am going to have a problem trying to get her to generalise not reacting to the object that I’m trying to place on her head when she is in other positions. I think so simply because she has not been trained in advance to stay still in other positions, except relax.

I made a quick inquiry with an insta-friend what she would recommend for training the dog to balance things on her head. She advised that her friends just keep trying to balance things on the dogs’ heads and the dogs get it after a while.


I don’t really want that coin on my head, human! from weliveinaflat on Vimeo.

Looking at the way she moves her head to evade the coin and how she keeps looking away, I would say Donna is not having the grandest time of her life, even if she keeps the coin on her head sometimes.


Looking away is a calming signal showing that the dog is not engaged nor entirely comfortable with the situation she is in. Donna did show a close mouth (not relaxed) and other stress signs like nose licking if you watch the video carefully.
This poster has been cropped and edited to create a derivative work with permission from Lili Chin DoggieDrawings.net, you can see the full poster hereOriginal usage terms here.

Honestly, it’s not very fun for the human also. When the dog doesn’t want to cooperate, it’s bound to get frustrating not only for the dog, but the human too. Not the most constructive use of time for  both of us.

So I went in search of a better way of doing this and what do you know. A Youtube video! I’ve actually not seen a video by Kristin Crestejo before but I’m glad I found her.

In this video, Kristin starts out by desensitizing the dog to things waving around his head. That’s Step 1. She then slowly works the object upwards to above his head in Step 2.

I had skipped right ahead to Step 3 by placing things on Donna’s head without the conditioning work that she did! No wonder it’s so hard to even start balancing things on Donna’s head!

So here’s the video:

And as she points out, stay safe and don’t try to balance things that may be too heavy for the dog’s neck. ;)

Hope it helps you as much as it helped me to start to understand how to continue to train this trick positively!

Have fun!

Note: I don’t believe in training that involves psychological or physical intimidation or punishment. That means I prefer positive reinforcement training. I encourage anyone I know to learn more about force-free training. Here’s a neat article on what is Positive Reinforcement Training if you would like to know more.

Dog jumps on visitors at the door?

When somebody rings our doorbell, this is what happens :)

Are your house guests happy when your dog rushes up or jumps on them at the door?

Mine? Not always.

If your dog jumps at you, take a step back so the dog lands on the floor missing you. This is a no contact, force free method that ensures safety for both the human and the dog.

But what if your house guests are afraid of dogs or just annoyed by what they perceive as a badly behaved dog? They don’t know how to manage the dog appropriately like you, so it makes a better experience for all if you train the dog how to behave in advance.


Posed picture, lol. Eyes on the treat! Claws on human’s tummy, ouch!! 

Want to know what we did to get from having the dog rushing up to family members and friends (who sometimes don’t appreciate it) to dog running to the crate to wait patiently while the human gets the door?

It all starts with Stay

  1. Find a base. 
    The dog’s bed will do fine, especially if the dog loves to chill out on her bed. A towel can also be used.
  2. Lure the dog to the base.
    Example, if you lay a towel on the floor, the dog usually will come to sniff it and lay on it. I was training my dog to like her new bed, so I used her bed for this exercise.
    teaching the dog to stay at a spot when the door bell rings
  3. Say “Stay” and show the dog the hand command for Stay.
  4. Immediately say “Yes”, praise the dog and reward the dog for staying on the base.
  5. The dog is very likely to stay on the bed so say “Stay” and show the dog the hand command for Stay again. Reward the dog again for staying.
  6. Repeat this many times in short sessions so that the dog starts to associate the following:
    • staying on the base will lead to a food reward,
    • staying on the base is called “Stay”
    • When I hear “Stay” or see the hand command for Stay, I should stay because I will get a treat.
    • it is fun when I listen and “Stay” because I get treats
    • I’m so happy, I can’t wait for the next time the human says “Stay”
    • Why is the human going away? Come back and say “Stay”!!
      **Keeping training sessions short prevents the dog from boredom due to the repetitive exercise and makes him look forward to the next session.  
  7. When dog is good at responding to your “Stay”, experiment by slowly putting some distance between you.
    • This is because in real life, “Stay” comes into practical use when we want the dog to remain while we go some distance away. e.g. taking a picture of the dog, leaving a dog outside a pets-not-allowed shop while the human hops in to buy something.
    • Now if the dog is not very good at responding to Stay, he/she may leave the base to follow you because the treats are with the human. And it looks to them that the treats are leaving with the human. So don’t get mad or impatient, because this is a logical response.  
    • This just means that you started distancing yourself too early for the dog. The dog has not clearly associated the concept of stay with being on the base regardless of where the human is yet.
    • Continue to reinforce Stay at a distance the dog is comfortable with and then slowly start to widen the distance again, a bit at a time, depending on how comfortable your dog is the distance you are putting in between him/her and you.
  8. Your dog will start to get real good at Stay after you have been doing this consistently for sometime. :D

    Teach your dog to Go to and Stay

  9. Start teaching your dog the Go to command
    • At first, I just pointed at the bed, said excitedly Go to bed and walked toward it. The dog followed and recognised that usually I want her on it for the Stay command. So it was easy to get her on it. I rewarded her for Going to and Staying on her bed.
    • Again train the Go to command in many short, repeated sessions. This helps the dog start to associate that “Go to” with the intended result of going to the base.
    • Combine it with “Stay” so it helps you to reinforce Stay, while training Go to.
    • You may want to use a different word then Go to, if you anticipate having to tell her to go to and stay at different locations. e.g. you could use Bed for going to bed; and Kennel for going to crate. Keep the commands short and different sounding, so the dog is able to differentiate easily.
    • Like training Stay, you can start to widen the distance you are from the base when you say Go to. If you have been keeping the training session short and fun, you should see the dog bounding ahead of you to get to the base and waiting for you to hurry up to reward him/her.

      Cue the Doorbell!

  10. Set the dog up for success, when the dog is fairly reliable with Go to and Stay, start practising it every time someone rings the doorbell. So every time someone rang the doorbell, I gave Donna the Go to command. When she reached the base, I treated her and told her Stay. And then answer the door.
    • At first it will take a long time for you to answer the door, because the dog may not want to stay when the thing at the door is more exciting. But I’m ok with that because most of the time, it’s sales people whom I don’t really want to entertain anyway :P
    • If you don’t have people ringing on your doorbell every so often, you can still practise everyday, just by having a family member ring the doorbell 2-3 times a day for you. Or you can practise every time somebody comes home, even when nobody rings the doorbell. The key is being consistent so it becomes a habit for your dog to run to her crate and stay when somebody is at the door.
    • Eventually, you may find, just as I did that after a while the doorbell sends the dog briskly to her crate. On auto. When I never even said anything. :D

Additional Notes

  1. Help your dog to generalise “Stay”
    • The reason why I suggest a base for training Stay, is because I found my dog learnt Stay really fast, after days of fruitless training Stay without a base. You can try with and without and see if it makes a difference for you. Every dog and every human is different.
    • But the dog needs to start associating “Stay” to staying in one place, regardless of whether the base is there or no. So once he/she is reliable at responding to Stay, you should definitely start saying “Stay” to him/her and show the dog the hand command for Stay while she is on various other surfaces e.g. floor, stool, grass, etc. Reward the dog when he/she sits and stays.
    • More on training Stay here.
    • More on training Go to here.

Staying for a posed picture taken from a distance.
Staying for a posed picture taken from a distance.

But didn’t your dog come out of the crate to rush up to the door anyway?

She did because she knows my brother well, so we don’t give her any instructions to do otherwise.

And she still isn’t very good at staying in the crate for long periods because she is naturally curious about strangers in the house, which is normal for any dog. So when we know in advance that somebody e.g. repairman is visiting and prefers not to be interfered by a dog, I know to have her crated when she goes to her crate, before I open the door.

To learn more about Crate training, go here.

Comfy in her crate
Comfy in her crate

Late night life of pet dog and street cats

1 Day 1 World Project: Donna at 11:00pm – 12:00am

a photo of pet dog surrounded by street cats
Donna’s community mealtime with street cats

On those days that I boil meat for Donna for her treats, we sometimes take some down to treat our pet dog and the street cats together.

It’s our diabolical plan to brainwash the local kitties into consorting with the pet dog. :P

Please pardon the blurry photos since it’s all taken in low light with my not very amazing camera ;P (Yes! Blame the camera not the human, lol :P)

Anyways, this kitty is rather affectionate and so prime candidate for the easily-swayed-to-like-the-pet-dog club.

pet dog and street cat getting treats together

And the bottom right box in the photo above shows the distance pet dog and street cat can stand to be with each other before one or the other moves away.

The cat didn’t want to take the food from my hand at first, so I had to drop it on the floor and slowly lure the cat closer and closer to the dog.

When I felt that I have glutted them enough with the food, I had Donna practise her stand-stay and “come”. Kitty is not as good as Donna in staying so she is relegated to the role of the cheerleader, which I’m afraid she has zero disinterest in. :P So there she goes, walking away…

pet dog and street cat doing stay

Donna meanwhile, stays… very well… it’s a low distraction environment for her after all.

Moving further away from Donna, so that she is now a small black speck standing and staying.

pet dog is a small speck in the distance

And then the “Come” command.

pet dog running towards camera
pet dog reaches camera

Excellent way of making her run without a treadmill. Of course the human has to walk back and forth too to make her run laps, so all around a good way to get both of us moving in a safe environment (close to midnight after all) and also enjoy the relatively large space right below our flat.

How we trained the dog to not get distracted by the cats

  1. Donna was on the lead when we started our clandestine night time activities :P
  2. Start from a far enough distance where you know the dog will not react. This means there is no need to physically restrain the dog. Treat the dog for not reacting in any way to the cat.
  3. If dog is able to stay focused on you and ignore the cat, slowly close the distance between dog and cat.
  4. If dog is too close and starts paying attention to the cat, you may want to take a step back and slow down on cutting the distance and continue with treating the dog for putting his focus back on you.
  5. I sometimes also tell Donna to “stay” when she appears to want to approach the cat, instead of widening the distance again. Treat the dog if she stays and refocuses on you.
  6. This can take days, but the cat that habitually strays in the area that is its territory will also slowly get used to seeing pet dog and you as well.
  7. By the time you are able to get within about a metre from the cat, start giving both pet dog and stray cat treats. It is normal for the cat not to want to take food from you hands. You can throw it on the floor closest to her feet instead and slowly lure her towards the dog (if dog is comfortable enough with the cat approaching without reacting to her).
  8. I hope that slowly the cat will start associating the appearance of Donna with treats and develop more friendly feelings :D hehehe…
  9. Doesn’t work on all cats of course. The black cat in the photos sitting in the background is curious but wary and refused to approach. It consistently kept about 2metres distance away from us.

Note: Cats are carnivores so I’m feeding plain boiled meat in this case. Please clear the floor of any uneaten bits of food so that it doesn’t encourage the congregation and breeding of cockroaches and rats in the neighbourhood.

For 24 weeks, weliveinaflat will post photos taken for a specific hour in that week.
We will cover 24 hours in 24 weeks. (I’ve no idea how we will do the sleeping hours, lol!)
More about the 1 Day 1 World Project here.

Donna on the rock

1 Day 1 World Project: Donna at 7:00pm – 8:00pm (last week)


I’m a good girl!

Got the good girl to run up the slope and pose on the ornamental rock during our evening walk.

That’s great, Donna! Now can you sit?


I dun wanna.

Perhaps because it’s the first time we tried running up a slope to pose at a height higher than street level. Oh well… :P

For 24 weeks, weliveinaflat will post photos taken for a specific hour in that week.
We will cover 24 hours in 24 weeks. (I’ve no idea how we will do the sleeping hours, lol!)
More about the 1 Day 1 World Project here.

This dog models at Shilin Night Market


Dogspotted at a dog accessories stall in Shilin Night Market, Taipei

When we first saw this dog in the Shilin night market, she was busy pawing at the doggles over her eyes. Obviously not too happy with them there. But she was certainly well-decked out to market the stall’s merchandise.

Collars, hats, doggles, chew bones, rings and even the spiny-backpack on her back, this stall sells a range of colourful items to accessorize the small dog.

This dog’s life is not just about modeling the goods, she knows a trick or not too! Like sit pretty! But her version “求求” means to beg, and she does really well with her manicured paws together in praying motion up and down .


please… please…

Pauses…Where’s my treat?

Whoops, guess the shop owner was kind of busy talking to us.


I want my treat… treat!!!!!!


Oh, I see it. Treat!!!!!!

Here’s a video tutorial on teaching your dog to sit pretty.

And this training video explains the trick and also how to make it safe for the dog – http://youtu.be/IQUerO0woqw

We were actually at Shilin for food. Since it is one of the most well-known night markets in Taipei, selling all sorts of street food, clothes and other merchandise, we just had to bring mom along to see it. That said, she didn’t really enjoy the food there. Hah!

How to get there

By MRT: Take the Red Line to Jiantan Station (劍潭), not Shilin Station. After leaving Exit 1, diagonally cross the street to the left to enter the night market.
map | reviews

Other food and dog-spotting blogs about Shilin market
–  A trip to taipei’s Shilin night market, neatorama.com
– Shilin night market, foodjetaime.com
Guidetotaipei.com

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