My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy


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It just feels different and is smooth underfoot. Other dogs would do better to start with crinkled-up paper inside a box or shredded paper. Some dogs are a long ways away from being able to step on empty water bottles, and other dogs just jump into the kiddie pools full of empty water bottles. And normal, everyday grinding sounds that many dogs are offended by, she was actually attracted to going in. So you never know. So substrates come after novelty. Melissa Breau: I want to talk about that just a little bit more.

I think probably most of us have little things that are harder for us than they are for other people, and little things that other people find difficult which we find easy. So it could be that you just need to explore and experiment with what kinds of things do bother this dog, and what kinds of things is this dog a little bit more self-assured about. By that I mean he has an optimistic sense when he goes toward it that this might be a good thing.

When you see that in your dog, I think you want to make note of it, that your dog is not afraid of everything. Many people who think their dogs are afraid of everything are just plain wrong about that.

Can you share a little bit on what you cover in that webinar? Maybe who might want to take it? Julie Daniels: I hope everybody will take it! First of all, it makes me so proud and happy that I work for a person who values the quality of the webinar, the quality of the recording of the webinar, so much that she is going to give this webinar to the people who bought it the first time for free, because the audio — my fault, not your fault, Melissa — was absolutely terrible, and it was not what it should have been.

I bought a better microphone, I have a better setup, and I know that the audio will not fail this next round. But it just makes me so happy that I get another crack at this, Melissa. And the fact that my boss is somebody who wants everybody who bought it the first time to have the benefit of this improved recording production values makes me so happy. So I hope everybody will tune in, of course. The all-important CER that everybody talks about these days has so much to do with whether the dog is able to work on confidence in the first place.

So this initial attraction, this initial feeling of wellbeing becomes a baseline of optimism so that the dog can feel happy about coming into training situations expecting to do well. It means a lot to me. The next step is really that we want to build initiative. The subject of this webinar, building canine confidence, is way too broad. But all first steps should come from a feeling that all will be well. They just want to run, and if they get good information from their handlers, so much the better, but the game is so much fun and it has value of its own.

And they reinforce each other as they go, whatever the sport may be. I feed in motion because movement gets the brain working, movement helps optimism, movement builds confidence, believe it or not. I also work hard to put the dog, if you will, in his prefrontal cortex, since we were talking about the brain earlier. What we want to do is bring him forward into his rational brain so he can be engaged with his brain, he can use his brain to solve problems in a constructive way. And then we talk in the webinar a good deal about choice and control, how important those things are, how important it is to let the dog make decisions, to give the dog choices all along the way.

Not just with the end goal behavior, but all along the training continuum the dog should be able to make small choices and find that every single choice is reinforceable. The whole bit about breaking things down into small pieces, as you said, part of the beauty of being able to break things down into small pieces is that the dog gets to make all these tiny choices and every single choice is reinforceable. I also wanted to ask you about the other thing you have coming up, which is your new Magic Mat class.

Can you share a little on what the class will cover and what kinds of problems those skills help with? But it really is more broad than that. Magic Mat is a good, catchy name, and everybody knows me for my dedication to matwork, and certainly mats will be covered.

Back Leg Weakness in Dogs

So all kinds of methods and problem-solving techniques based on where to be. I put up a picture in the course description today. I put in my front yard, in my door yard, driveway, I literally hauled out a whole bunch of stations and platforms and targets and various things, a perch or two, that I use around the house on a regular basis. One of my favorite raised stations is a wooden pallet that I got for free, and I put a yoga mat on it.

We use stations here for that. My now year-old was instrumental in choosing her own place to wait during dinner, and she chose this very cushy armchair in the other room, the living room, being right next to the dining room. So I just got up from the table, walked over, and gave her a piece of macaroni. Teach them to go long.

Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs

One of my dogs would always choose down over sit. But they can do whatever they want. This is a place where they are allowed to show patience in hopefulness of being rewarded. I will admit out loud, here and now, that I am a person who would toss a piece of macaroni to the dog on the station.


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We will use stations so that one dog is a waiting dog and one dog is a working dog, and then we switch back and forth. Does waiting need to pay more than working? I can use my own example of two brilliant agility dogs, Sport and Colt, who were very good at taking turns in this way.

All of a sudden one day, I noticed a funny thing in Sport.


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However, why did he want to be the waiting dog? Why was it a disappointment for him to hear that it was his turn? It was much harder for Colt to wait. So be prepared. All training should be a two-way feedback system. Such fun, it is so much fun to use placement props.

Denise did a podcast at one point, maybe you remember it, about TEAM, and one of the things that she mentioned still resonates with me. I still advise my students to do it.

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TEAM Foundations is for all sports. Click on that tab to see the picture of all the cool stuff that I dragged out into my front yard, which is a subset of all the many different training props and placement platforms that I use around my own house in my everyday training. I will want you to develop a station before class so you come to class ready with a target and with a perch and with a station and with a platform. All my classes are busy. I like them like that. Julie Daniels: I will cover matwork in Magic Mat. With a name like Magic Mat, I think you have to.

But matwork is one of my dearest loves and really is a foundation behavior for any dog that I raise. And any dog that comes here for board and train learns matwork as well. Julie Daniels: Sure.


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For example, the dinner example that I gave is a good one. In my limited experience with reactive dogs, station training is very, very helpful in giving them a secure place to be where nobody will bother them. So I think it does a lot of good for dogs who tend to get bored with training, and I think it has a lot to offer dogs who need impulse control in their training. Melissa Breau: Gotcha.

It just hit me over the head this past weekend. I got to trial this past weekend, not every day of the weekend, but two days out of three, and all of a sudden it became glaringly apparent that I had no start line. Here I am doing start line work on a regular basis in all my classes, in person and online. But everything breaks. Everything breaks.

We go backwards. I was able to save that run by having him wait in his contact, which drew uproarious barking from him.

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But he did wait, and I got around the corner and was able to complete the opening. Not pretty. You have to constantly maintain all these foundation behaviors that you think you have control of. Anyway, so that was my lesson, and boy, nobody had more fun with that than all my students who were at the show.

My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy
My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy
My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy
My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy
My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy
My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy
My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy My Dog Has DM: A Personal Journey Caring for a Dog with Degenerative Myelopathy

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