To better serve animal lovers of the Costa del Sol, Louise Stapleton-Frappell PCT-A has become a DogSmith Licensed Professional Partner.
ESTEPONA, Spain – April 5, 2017 – PRLog — DogSmith Services Inc., an international dog training and pet care company, is proud to announce its latest licensed professional partner, The DogSmith of Estepona, serving the Western Costa del Sol. The DogSmith of Estepona is a full-service pet care and dog training business committed to training methods and pet care that are humane and meet explicit ‘force-free’ guidelines.
Louise Stapleton-Frappell, owner and certified dog trainer states, “Being awarded the DogSmith license for the Western Costa del Sol tells our customers that we are members of the upper echelon of highly qualified pet professionals. I believe all training and pet care should be both fun and stress-free and I’m passionate about making sure that guardians and their pets receive the absolute best training and care, along with exceptional customer service, an ethos shared by The DogSmith, an unrivalled Dog Training, Dog Walking & Pet Care Licensing company.”
According to Niki Tudge, DogSmith President, “The DogSmith license is exclusively granted to individuals in the pet industry who possess not just the best in dog training and pet care skills but also possess a high level of customer service and a commitment to ethical business and professional standards. As our latest professional partner, we are very excited to have Louise Stapleton-Frappell working with us. She is an accomplished trainer, educator and pet care provider, who is completely committed to the welfare of her customers’ pets and operates her business as an extension of her personal ‘force-free’ philosophy.”
Toads, Snakes, Spiders and Chocolate! Written for The Pet Professional Guild blog on November 5, 2016 by Louise Stapleton-Frappell
Did you know that an encounter with a toad could have devastating consequences? During a recent class I was teaching, one of the students said that her training buddy and his friends had found a large toad in their yard. They were very fortunate as none of them made actual contact with the toad. Two years ago, I posted a blog, How Force-Free Training Helped Save My Dog’s Life! in which I told the story of my Staffordshire bull terrier, Jambo’s encounter with a toad in the middle of the night and how a combination of previous training, first aid and an immediate visit to the emergency veterinarian all contributed to saving his life. I’m not going to re-visit the story here but I would definitely recommend reading the blog post.
Jambo was fortunate. His training and my first-aid knowledge both contributed to a happy outcome.
Jambo was fortunate. His training and my first-aid knowledge both contributed to a happy outcome
What I would like to do is share some information about toads and a few other creatures, food items, products and objects that could prove deadly to your companion. Let’s start with a few facts about the Common Toad (Bufo Bufo). Toads range in size from 2 – 25 cm (1 – 10 inches). Toads are poisonous when eaten but even mouthing one can prove extremely dangerous. The poison is located in the raised area behind the eyes, known as the parotid gland. Poison is also present in the warts found on the toad’s skin. The toad secretes poison when it feels threatened. Toads are nocturnal creatures, that live on land but breed in water. The toad will often burrow itself underground and remain there for long periods of time, particularly during droughts or very cold weather. They are more likely to be seen at night and in wet weather conditions. There are many different species of toad and, depending on where you live, varied outcomes of coming into close contact with them. The native British toad, Bufus vulgarisis is, for example, much less toxic than some exotic species, such as Bufus blombergi, Bufus alvarius, Bufus marinus.
What are some of the signs that indicate an encounter with a toad? They might vary from less severe local oral effects to inflammation of the mouth and pharynx with excessive salivation and retching, abdominal pain, vomiting, neurological and cardiovascular effects. Contact with exotic toads is more likely to cause the more severe systemic effects and these may be fatal. A dog may show some or all of the following symptoms: Drooling, head shaking, pawing at the mouth and/or whining. There may be a change in the color of the membranes of the mouth. Your dog may attempt to vomit, actively vomit or have diarrhoea. They may experience loss of coordination, an irregular heartbeat and/or difficulty in breathing. They may have convulsions, foam at mouth and/or tightly clamped jaws. The venom can cause rapid heart failure.
Patients that have been treated before enough of the toxin has had a chance to reach the system, within about thirty minutes, usually have a good chance of recovery. However, the overall prognosis is often not good and death is very common in dogs that have been exposed to toad venom. It is vital to get prompt treatment for your dog. Try to be at your veterinary surgery within fifteen minutes as this can make a life-saving difference. Treatment is symptomatic and may vary, dependent on your vet and the severity of the symptoms.
What should you do if you suspect toad poisoning? Contact your emergency vet immediately and follow their advice. While you are doing so, apply immediate first-aid. My advice, reiterated by my own veterinarian, is to rinse out the dog’s mouth with copious amounts of water for at least five minutes. You do NOT want them to swallow it so I suggest the following protocol: Fill a bowl with water; with one hand, hold your dog’s mouth open with head facing downwards; scoop up water from the water bowl with your other hand and rinse out his/her mouth, letting the water come back out onto the floor (not into the bowl). If your dog is having a seizure, please handle with caution as he/she may not recognize you and could unknowingly bite. Keep your pet cool as they can overheat when convulsing. My advice is not intended to replace your veterinarian’s advice, so please act according to their instructions but I do believe that having a knowledge of first-aid procedures can make a huge difference in the way you are likely to react to a potentially fatal situation.
Please be aware that toad toxin exposure can cause severe irritation to your eyes, nose and throat. If you need to handle the toad, I recommend the use of rubber gloves.
A few more creatures and other items that may be toxic to your dog:
Venomous snakes. Three factors affect the seriousness of a snake bite: 1. The size of the animal bitten. 2. The location of the bite. 3. The type of snake. If your pet is bitten by a snake please seek immediate veterinary attention as they may require antiserum. Try to remember the shape, size and colour of the snake and keep the part of your pet’s body that has been bitten as still as possible to prevent the venom spreading.
Chocolate. (The darker, the more toxic)
Raisins, grapes, currants and sultanas.
Flowers and plants. Including but not limited to: daffodils, bluebells, crocuses, tulips, ivy, holly, mistletoe and poinsettia. It’s always worth investigating any plants you may have in your garden or plan to purchase.
Oak/acorns and conkers.
Xylitol – an artificial sweetener commonly found in sugar-free chewing gum, sweets, some peanut butter spreads and often used as a sugar substitute in baking.
Ant powders, baits and gels; slug and snail pellets; anticoagulant rodenticides.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, diclofenac, naproxen or aspirin.
This list is by no means exhaustive. If you are in any way concerned that your dog may have been poisoned, had an encounter with anything toxic or venomous, please contact your emergency veterinarian immediately.
What precautions can you take to help protect your canine companion?
1. Use force-free training techniques to teach your dog the following cues:
“Leave it”. Teaching your dog to leave something when you ask him to could save his life. When using food to teach this cue, do not reward with the food you have asked him to leave. Pick the food up off the floor and reward with a higher value food. You do not want your dog to start anticipating that you are going to release him to the very thing you just asked him to leave!
“Come”. Teach your dog a great recall! Never use your recall cue if you don’t think your dog will respond – go and get him instead. Never punish your dog for not coming back to you, as he will be less likely to come back in future.
“Watch Me”. Teaching your dog to focus on you could be all you need to get him to re-orient towards you, rather than the snake, toad or anything else you want him to avoid making contact with.
“Stop!”. Teach your dog an emergency stop. Once you have taught your dog to stop on cue, increase the level of urgency in your voice. Remember, if you use the cue in an emergency you may shout or even scream it. You don’t want your dog to be so frightened of you shouting “stop” that they freeze or run away (perhaps straight into what you are trying to get them to avoid) so a positive conditioned emotional response is crucial.
A rapid response to any of these cues could prevent an encounter that might be extremely dangerous for your dog! If you would like to improve your training knowledge and skills, I highly recommend the DogNostics Training Meister Program. You can register for the first level here.
2. It can be useful to carry an anti-histamine such as zyrtec or piriton.
4. Always have your veterinarian’s telephone number with you.
5. Try not to panic.
Please note: This advice is not a substitute for a proper consultation with a vet and is only intended as a guide. Please contact your local veterinary practice for advice or treatment immediately if you are worried about your pet’s health – even if they are closed, they will always have an out of hours service available.
Jambo is a Trick Dog Champion. In fact he was the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be awarded the Title. Jambo is an adorable, loving pet dog. Jambo is not an exceptional dog. He isn’t particularly athletic. He isn’t unusually intelligent. He is a dog who has been set up for success because of the way he has been taught. Jambo is not trained for hours every day. In fact, Jambo’s “training” sessions are always very short. If you asked Jambo, I am sure he would say that he doesn’t do any “training”. So what is the key to Jambo’s success?
Jambo has been taught using modern, rewards based, science based, force-free training. He has lots of fun learning new tricks (playing enjoyable games), learning new skills (playing enjoyable games) and practising old skills (playing enjoyable games). Everything he is taught is broken down into easy to understand lessons and is reinforced with things he loves. He is “paid” for having fun! When actions bring enjoyable consequences, those actions get stronger and are more likely to be repeated in future.
Food is at the top of Jambo’s list of reinforcers and obviously used in all of his training but Jambo’s “top gun” reinforcer is actually a ball. Unfortunately for me it happens to be rather large: a ten-inch boomer ball! I actually have photos that show the boomer ball “hidden”, out of sight, down the back of my top! If only we humans could choose the reinforcer – I’d definitely be choosing a tug toy or a tennis ball, something that I could pop into my pocket. Unfortunately, the choice isn’t mine. Jambo does not show much interest in tennis balls. He’ll fetch one a few times. Unless, of course, I am using the boomer ball as a reinforcer! If fetching a tennis ball meant access to his highest value reinforcer then he would fetch that tennis ball all day if he could!
Thank goodness for food! We all need to eat and Jambo is no exception! Many people, however, seem to have a problem with the concept of using food in training. I really don’t understand their objections. Food is such a great resource, why wouldn’t we make use of it? It is definitely a lot easier for me to fill my pockets with tiny pieces of hotdog than to walk around with a ten-inch boomer ball stuffed down my top! The majority of Jambo’s “tricks” are taught using food. I can cut it up into tiny pieces; it’s easy to deliver; it’s quick; it’s safe; it enables me to do lots of repetitions… In short, it’s the perfect resource!
After leaving university I took my first teaching post in a school in Cartagena, Spain. I was given many textbooks that I was told I needed to work through with my students. I found the classes quite tedious. The textbooks were, for lack of a better word, boring. They were dull and uninspiring. There were a lot of books. There were a lot of mundane exercises to complete and a limited amount of time to complete them in. If a student didn’t understand a certain concept they could often get left behind as the timetable meant there was little time to digress, to explain in more detail or to go back a step. If I, the teacher, was finding it difficult, how must my students have been feeling?
When, a couple of years later, I started working as a private tutor, I realised that I didn’t want to teach in this way. I wanted to teach in a way that I would like to be taught. I wanted the lessons to be fun. I wanted the learner to understand each step and marvel in their success rather than feel miserable in their failure. I didn’t want my students to feel frustrated because they found the lessons too difficult. I did, however, continue to make use of those old textbooks. If you look closely you may spot them in one of my videos – they make great props: a single textbook is a small platform but stack a few together and I can create more height, which is very useful for teaching hind leg lifts!
Whenever I have something new I would like Jambo, or any other dog (or human) to learn, I always think about one thing: How can I break this behavior down into easily understandable pieces? Why is this so important? Because if I break the behavior down, I am setting my learner up for success instead of failure! Each new piece of information or new behavior that is successfully learnt, not only builds on the previous knowledge set, it also increases the confidence of the learner. How much better do we feel when we successfully complete a task than when we struggle on and on and yet are still unable to grasp how to do it or to understand the knowledge being shared with us?
I previously stated: “When actions bring enjoyable consequences, those actions get stronger and are more likely to be repeated in future”. This statement applies to all learners. So what is the key to Jambo’s success? A loving relationship, lots of fun, clear communication and motivation through appropriate reinforcement – Jambo is motivated to learn and that very learning creates a cycle of more learning!
Jambo and I recently had to use our “emergency stop” cue in a real life situation and I realised just how important this cue could be. It could actually save your dog’s life! I therefore, decided to make an instructional video, explaining how to teach your dog an emergency stop.
Whatever behaviour you are teaching your dog, start off in a non-distracting environment.
Use high value rewards! I would always advise starting out with small pieces of food (something soft and smelly). Once your dog understands the behaviour you can start rewarding with anything your dog loves (a ball, a frisbee, a game of tug).
Make sure you don’t start using the verbal cue until your dog reliably understands the behaviour: Teach him/her what to do and, once they know how to do it, add in the cue.
Set your dog up for success: make it really easy to start with and gradually add in more criteria (distance, distractions, speed…)
Whether teaching Jambo new behaviours or reinforcing ones he already knows, we implement a “hierarchy of rewards”.
There are “lower level” reinforcers that are fine at home without any distractions or when reinforcing a behaviour that he finds very easy to do and there are those reinforcers that are at the “top of the tree”, the real “big guns” that we use to reinforce something very difficult.
Small pieces of food are the main reinforcer/reward we use as I can deliver it to his mouth quickly and therefore maintain a high rate of reinforcement but we also use certain “non-food” items, which include everything from balls to tug toys, access to things he wants and even people!
Jambo’s “hierarchy of rewards” isn’t static. What he finds rewarding one day might be of little interest to him the next. If he were reasonably hungry and in a non distracting environment he would probably find kibble/dry dog food reinforcing for a behaviour. If, however, we were to try and do that same behaviour in a more distracting environment, at a greater distance or perhaps when he had just eaten, then the kibble would be of very little, if any, value. If Jambo was in a playful mood then his tug toy would have a much higher value than if he was ready for bed!
The main thing to remember is that just because because you think something is a “reward”, it doesn’t mean that your dog does! Some dogs will do just about anything if you throw a tennis ball for them to chase, while others would much rather that you go and get it yourself!
How enthusiastically would you work if your boss said that he wasn’t going to pay you anything and that, in future, you would just receive a pat on the back? Perhaps, worse still, that, as his subordinate, you would just have to do as you were told? You might still do the work (especially if you thought you might be punished for not doing it) but would you be happy and would you work with enthusiasm? Jambo loves to share a “cuddle” with me but that doesn’t mean he would want to “work” for them! A cuddle from “Nando” though, who he doesn’t see very frequently…
The things that Jambo places at the top of his hierarchy will not be the same for your dog! His “big sister”, Tessa has no inclination whatsoever to play with a “boomer ball” and it would therefore not even make it onto her “hierarchy of rewards”. For her, kibble (dried dog food) would hold much greater value! One of Tessa’s biggest value reinforcers is going out for a ride in the car! Our last Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s highest value reinforcer/reward was his “tugga” but, as you can see from the following table, it’s actually of quite low value to Jambo. The table does not include all of the food items that we use as reinforcers as there are so many, but I have attempted to include the main ones.
I think you will all be surprised at what is at the top of Jambo’s hierarchy!
Jambo’s highest value reinforcer: “The Nando Boomer” by Jambo® coming to your high street soon!
You have a “strong” dog so you must need to use lots of force to control them, right? Wrong!
Using positive reinforcement is not only based in science, it is also a fast, effective and fun way of teaching your dog new behaviours. It establishes a pattern of learning and trust allowing you to bond more deeply with your dog. You can increase desired behaviours and decrease unwanted ones.Positive reinforcement training uses rewards not force!
Many behavioural problems can be solved by channelling your dog’s energy into something constructive. Is your dog constantly getting himself into trouble?.... “Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog Champion”is very mischievous and has bundles of energy, but working with him to learn new “tricks” helps to use up some of this energy while, at the same time, creating new positive behaviours! (I put the word “tricks” in inverted commas as even behaviours like “sit”, “down”, “stay”, “come”, “leave it” etc. are taught as “tricks”.)
As most of you probably know, Jambo is the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to achieve the Title of Trick Dog Champion. He achieved this title at just 16 months old! I think you could say that Jambo is a typical “Bully” – he has a lot of energy! He was a very “nippy” puppy and he was also the ultimate thief – his favourite game was “snatch, grab, run and destroy”! How did we go from this to him being a Trick Dog Champion? The answer is simple – I use rewards!
All dogs (in fact all animals) learn in the same way. They repeat behaviours they find rewarding and they avoid doing things that they find unpleasant. You can therefore train with rewards or punishment. You can reward them for walking on a loose leash (reinforce the behaviour you like and want to see more of) or you can punish them with a choke, prong or e-collar. If you choose the punishment route, it will work, but at what cost to your dog’s physical and mental well-being and at what cost to your relationship? Why train with force, pain and fear when you can train with rewards?
Some people mistakenly believe that “Strong” dogs need a “strong” hand. There is lots of talk about being your dog’s “pack leader”; about not letting them “dominate” you; that you need to have the physical strength to be able to handle one of these dogs; that you need to “keep them in their place” and “show them who is boss”, that you have to be a certain sort of person to “own” one of these dogs! I’ve got to admit that when I read a lot of the “training” advice written about “strong” breeds it makes me despair.
I’ve had the pleasure of being “guardian”/”Mum” to a Dobermann, two Staffordshire Bull Terriers and a German Shepherd Dog. I was brought up with German Shepherds, Border Collies and Chow Chows. Apart from the Border Collies, I think all of these breeds are what people would call “strong” dogs. My dogs have always been loved and cherished as an integral part of my family. Of course we have certain “rules”, but I don’t use fear, force or intimidation to implement them. It’s quite simple really: I use rewards and reinforce the behaviour I want to see more of!
Any animal can be taught using Positive Reinforcement so there really is NO excuse for using force! Take the time to teach your dog what you want them to do and reward them for doing it! It doesn’t matter what breed of dog it is. Remember all animals can be taught in the same way, so why use force when you can use rewards? No excuses and no exceptions. If you don’t have the time then maybe you shouldn’t have a dog…
Aggressive training can actually lead to aggressive behaviour. If you have a “strong” dog you are under a greater obligation than ever to train them properly and make sure that they are well mannered members of society. Don’t make your dog fearful/aggressive by “training” with fear, force and intimidation!
So, why do I like doing “Dog Tricks” with Tessa and Jambo and why do I think everyone should do them with their dogs?
Reason no.1: Doing Dog Tricks is my way of “training” Jambo and Tessa! It’s simple really, I like “training” to be fun and doing Dog Tricks is definitely a lot of fun!
Reason no. 2: Doing Dog Tricks uses up some of Jambo’s boundless energy. Jambo is a “full-on” dog with lots of energy. If left to his own devices some of this energy would be used up doing things I’d rather he didn’t do. In Jambo’s case this would most likely be in the form of stealing things and then chewing them into pieces! Teaching him “tricks” like “drop” and “fetch” has saved many an item from this fate!
Reason no.3: Doing Dog Tricks is such a fun way of teaching new behaviours! By naming behaviours “tricks” I think less “stress” is put on the dog or person and the whole “training” scenario is seen in a different light. It’s almost like we’re learning in the playground rather than in the classroom. It’s a very “informal” way of teaching and I definitely think you learn better if you are having fun and come to your “lessons” with enthusiasm rather than trepidation.
Reason no.4: Doing Dog Tricks deepens the bond I share with Jambo and Tessa. We definitely spend a lot of quality time interacting with each other, sometimes all together and sometimes one on one. As the tricks get more complicated you learn to work together in order to work them out. My input is just as important as theirs and any behaviour learnt is a result not only of my teaching but of their enthusiastic response to it. The “tricks” we do are a result of the bond we share, the “work” we do together, the reinforcement they receive and our mutual respect and cooperation.
Reason no.5: Doing Dog Tricks actually means that I improve my own skills. Most people can teach their dogs to sit or lie down but as the “tricks” become more difficult you find your skills as a teacher improving. You have to get your timing right (“mark” the exact behaviour you want); you have to give clear instructions (“cues” need to be precise and very clear so as to communicate the behaviour you want); you learn the “power” of different reinforcers – how to reward your dog appropriately and thus reinforce the behaviour you are teaching, making it more likely to be repeated… Food is the first choice when teaching a new behaviour as you can quickly and easily deliver the reward without interrupting the flow of learning but you also need to think about the “value” of different types of food as well as how you deliver it – Straight to the mouth; by placing on the floor; from a bait bag; from a “reward station”; by throwing it infront of them, behind them… How you deliver the reinforcement can have a big effect not only on the energy of the behaviour (whether they carry it out slowly, quickly etc.) but also on how precise that behaviour is; you also learn to use other rewards like tug, a ball, a frisbee, praise, play, touch… environmental rewards eg. your dog sits politely and gets to greet someone or your dog comes back to you and you let them go play again; you have to motivate and teach with enthusiasm – If you aren’t enthusiastic about your lesson why should your dog be?; you learn about the importance of the 3 D’s (distance, duration and distraction), all of which have an impact on what you are teaching; you learn to use different “markers” for example a clicker, a marker word (mine is “yes”), a tongue click, a clap of the hands… even the next “cue” can be used to “mark” the previous behaviour! You also learn how to “read” your dog. You learn more about their body language and what they are “saying” to you (whether they are tired, feeling stressed, want to carry on, enjoying the learning process etc.); you learn when to increase “criteria” (make it more difficult) and when you need to “regress” (go back a step)…
I also think that anyone who has a “powerful” dog has an obligation to make sure that they and their dog are the best ambassadors possible for their breed. This is especially important when we are talking about breeds that are stereotyped in such a way that almost everyone has a preconceived (and mostly negative) view of what these dogs are like and how they behave. How could I possibly ask people not to buy into that stereotype if, for example, as we walked down the street I were struggling to hold on to Tessa and Jambo, yelling at them to stop pulling or to leave something or perhaps yanking on a prong collar? Doing Dog Tricks isn’t just about waves, bows and kisses. Doing tricks and using reward based training means, not only that both Tessa and Jambo listen to me, but also that lots of basic behaviours have been so reinforced that when I ask them to do something for me they do it.
Here are a few “Novice” Tricks: Fetch. Drop it. Leave it. Target work. Come. Down. Sit. Stay. Walk on a loose leash. Do they look familiar? We call them “tricks” but, as you can see, they are basic “obedience” behaviours! I think if everybody were to teach these behaviours as “tricks” we’d see a lot less people shouting at their dogs for being “disobedient”or for not “obeying” a “command”. Just changing the words “obedience behaviour” to “trick” and the word “command” to “cue” changes the way people think about their dogs – they suddenly start teaching them rather than berating them! They reward them for getting it right rather than punish them for getting it wrong.
Wow, the word “trick” is actually a very powerful word! It literally changes peoples’ attitudes to “training” their dog and, because they have such fun doing them, they are much more likely to continue with their dog’s “education”!
The answer is simple – with Positive Reinforcement Training!
No force, no fear, no intimidation, no manipulation, no compulsion…..
Using positive reinforcement is not only based in science, it is also a fast, effective and fun way of teaching your dog new behaviours.
It establishes a pattern of learning and trust allowing you to bond more deeply with your dog. You can increase desired behaviours and decrease unwanted ones. Positive reinforcement training uses rewards not force.
Many behavioural problems can be solved by channelling your dog’s energy into something constructive. You can convert your dog’s energy and drive into productive behaviours. Is your dog constantly getting himself into trouble?…. “Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog Champion” is very mischievous and has bundles of energy, but working with him to learn new tricks helps to use up some of this energy while, at the same time, creating new positive behaviours!
Jambo is one of the “infamous” Bully breeds. He’s also the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier to be a Trick Dog Champion! So maybe “famous” would be a more fitting description than “infamous”!
He achieved this title at just 16 months old and we did this using positive reinforcement training! I think you could say that Jambo is a typical “Bully” – he has a lot of energy! He was a very “nippy” puppy – we nicknamed him “crocodile” as he would come at you “snap, snap, snap”! He was also the ultimate thief and very destructive! How did we go from this to him being a Trick Dog Champion?
The answer is simple – We used rewards!
All dogs (in fact all animals) learn in the same way – They repeat behaviours they find rewarding and they avoid doing things that they find aversive. You can therefore train with rewards or with punishment. You can reward them for walking on a loose leash or you can punish them with a choke, prong or e-collar. If you choose the punishment route it will work, but at what cost to your dog’s physical and mental well-being and at what cost to your relationship?
Why train with fear when you can train with rewards?
Force-free Training shouldn’t just be an option it should be an obligation!