Tag Archives: Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Toads, Snakes, Spiders and Chocolate!

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.

Everyone should have basic first-aid skills. PresenterMedia 1641
Everyone should have basic first-aid skills. PresenterMedia 1641

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.
Spiders.
Jelly fish.
Scorpions.
Processionary caterpillars.
Chocolate. (The darker, the more toxic)
Onions.
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.
Luminous necklaces.
Batteries.
Antifreeze.
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.

Training Meister – Increasing your team knowledge and skills
Training Meister – Increasing your team knowledge and skills

2. It can be useful to carry an anti-histamine such as zyrtec or piriton.

3. Enroll on a pet first-aid course. The upcoming Pet Care Technician Certification Program from DogNostics Career College includes a comprehensive pet first-aid section.

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.

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Just An Ordinary Dog!

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!

Jambo playing with his boomer ball.
Jambo playing with his boomer ball.

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!

Watch a 25 second speedy video of Jambo in action!

Rewards based training leads to enthusiastic, fun-filled, accelerated learning!

You can find Jambo on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

In Defence of All Muzzled Dogs!

And why everyone should “muzzle train” their dog!

I was in two minds as to whether to write this article but I thought it important to do so for the sake of many people and their dogs.

Jambo, my beautiful Staffordshire Bull Terrier, and I recently took part in an event to help raise money for our local dog rescue, 4 Paws Adoptions. Jambo had his very own kissing booth and was able to help out some of his less fortunate canine friends by selling kisses! When photos of Jambo in his kissing booth were posted on Facebook there were an awful lot of negative comments. Why? Because Jambo was wearing a muzzle! Many people stated that they thought it was cruel to muzzle him, some said that we were giving the breed a bad reputation and many more said that they would never put a muzzle on their dog! I understand that muzzles can sometimes look a little bit scary but I was amazed at people’s reaction and that is why I thought I should write this article. In defence of all muzzled dogs and their owners/guardians!

Jambo's Kissing Booth:  A muzzle didn't stop Jambo from sharing his kisses and raising money for our local dog shelter, 4 Paws Adoptions!
Jambo’s Kissing Booth: A muzzle didn’t stop Jambo from sharing his kisses and raising money for our local dog shelter, 4 Paws Adoptions!

There are diverse reasons for using a muzzle and I think that every pet owner should teach their dog to feel comfortable and relaxed while wearing one, so that, if the time comes when a muzzle is required, extra stress isn’t placed on their beloved companion!

Many veterinarians and groomers will muzzle your dog. Sometimes when you visit the vet’s your dog will be taken into the back for treatment. If your dog shows any signs that they may bite, they will be muzzled. If your dog is not used to wearing a muzzle then this is going to increase their fear and anxiety and could mean an escalation of their nerves the next time you visit the vet’s! Some of you will be thinking that your vet doesn’t require you to muzzle your dog but I assure you, if your pet is unfortunately in a lot of pain or injured then a muzzle will and should be used to protect those that are caring for him. In this situation a dog’s reflex reaction can be to bite! You yourself should also muzzle any dog that is injured before you attempt to give first-aid. A dog bite will still be reported to the relevant authorities whatever the circumstances and the last thing you would want to do is add to an already worrying situation.

A muzzle can be an indispensable tool when working with an aggressive dog. The muzzle allows you to work on a programme of behaviour modification using force-free methods to help overcome the dog’s reactivity. A muzzle allows the trainer to work in the vicinity of other people and dogs, keeping everyone safe.

I would go as far as saying that if your dog acts aggressively towards other dogs or people, they should be wearing a muzzle when in public. The muzzle will not only protect other dogs and people it could also protect you and your dog! If your dog bites someone, you could be fined a substantial amount of money and your dog could be seized and even euthanised! The muzzle shouldn’t, however, be used as a substitute for working on your dog’s issues as this could lead to an escalation of their reactivity. If your dog is overly reactive you should not take him/her to places frequented by lots of people and dogs. You should work with a certified force-free trainer who will use positive reinforcement, desensitisation and counter-conditioning, in a behaviour modification programme.

Breed Specific Legislation in some countries requires that certain breeds of dog must be muzzled and on leash when in public. This is the reason why Jambo has to wear a muzzle. Although I vehemently disagree with legislation that targets specific breeds, failure to abide by the law could result in a hefty fine and even the seizure of your beloved pet! You may be lucky and not have this type of discriminatory legislation where you live but what would happen if you were to travel somewhere that dictated muzzle wearing as mandatory? How much happier would you be if you knew your dog was happy to wear a muzzle? Some countries also require muzzles for all dogs over a certain weight. Local legislation where we live now requires all dogs that weigh over 20 kilos to be muzzled and on leash when in public. This is the reason why Tessa, my beautiful German Shepherd must now be muzzled when we go out. I advocate against Breed Specific Legislation, which “condemns” a dog because of the way it looks without taking into account the way it behaves. I do, however, acknowledge that having these restrictions placed on us is much better than an outright ban (which some breeds face in some countries).

"The Canine Crusaders", Cobalt and Sapphire, campaign against BSL in the UK.  They have to be muzzled when in public but that doesn't stop them looking amazing!  Their muzzles are often bedecked with jewels!
“The Canine Crusaders”, Cobalt and Sapphire, campaign against BSL in the UK. They have to be muzzled when in public but that doesn’t stop them looking amazing! Their muzzles are often bedecked with jewels!

Muzzles can be an invaluable tool to use while introducing your dog to another dog, a cat or any other animal that is to become a member of your family. The muzzle can give you peace of mind while you employ a programme of desensitisation.

A muzzle may be used to discourage a dog from picking up, chewing, eating and ingesting foreign objects. Supervision, management and positive reinforcement training should also be used.

There are a few different types of muzzle but the main ones are basket muzzles and mesh/nylon muzzles. For most situations, I recommend a basket muzzle. Although a dog wearing this kind of muzzle can look a little scary to people who aren’t used to seeing them, it allows the dog to pant (and therefore regulate their body temperature) and to drink. It’s also easy to feed your dog through the slots in the muzzle, which is an absolute must for carrying out your positive reinforcement training! Mesh/nylon muzzles do have their advantages too as they are ideal for quick use, for example a visit to the vet’s and can be easily folded and put in your pocket/bag. I wouldn’t, however, recommend them for longer periods of time as it is more difficult for the dog to pant and keep cool. “Softie” muzzles can be an ideal option as they offer a comfortable fit that also allows the dog to pant but I wouldn’t advise them if the purpose for wearing the muzzle is a dog’s aggression. Please avoid using Gentle Leaders, Haltis or other head halters as substitutes for a muzzle. They may partially close a dog’s mouth, but will not prevent bites!
Tessa and Jambo both have basket muzzles and nylon and mesh muzzles.

Please measure your dog carefully before purchasing their muzzle as it is important that it fit correctly! There are even sizes that are especially suited to shorted nosed dogs!
The soft muzzle Jambo wore in his kissing booth is cut in such a way as to be especially suitable for the shape of his face. It has a narrower band than the typical soft nylon muzzle and is also a looser fit, allowing him to open his mouth sufficiently to pant, drink, eat and of course kiss, while not allowing full opening or the ability to bite. It is also slightly padded to make it more comfortable. I chose this muzzle for the day as normally, if Jambo were to be wearing his muzzle for such a long period of time, I would use his basket muzzle (the blue Baskerville Ultra he is wearing in the photo below) however, I didn’t think people would appreciate a hard piece of plastic bashing in their faces!

Please "Muzzle Train" Your Dog so that they feel relaxed when wearing their muzzle.
Please “Muzzle Train” Your Dog so that they feel relaxed when wearing their muzzle.

Whatever the reason for the muzzle, whether it be dictated by law, to enable you to work on your dog’s reactivity issues or for that “just in case” future event when a muzzle might be required, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to make sure your dog is happy wearing it! Here is a video that I made which shows you in simple, easy to follow steps, how to “muzzle train” your dog:

You want your dog to view the muzzle as something positive! If you follow the techniques I use in the video your dog will learn to love their muzzle!
Please remember: Don’t just use the muzzle for visits to the vet’s! Put the muzzle on your dog and do something they love! If they only ever wear the muzzle when “bad things” are going to happen, then they will quickly build a negative association with it!

Please do not put a muzzle on your aggressive dog and let him loose in the dog park! (Contact a qualified force-free trainer and work on his issues in a stress free environment.)
Please do not muzzle your dog because he is chewing your furniture! (Keep him away from temptation and provide him with lots of chew toys.)
Please do not muzzle your dog because he is reactive towards strangers/children/other dogs and they have come to visit! (Put your dog in a different room and contact a certified force-free trainer to work on his issues.)
Please do not muzzle your dog because he suffers from separation anxiety and can be destructive while you are out! (Contact a qualified force-free trainer to work on his issues).
Please do not muzzle your dog because he raids the rubbish bin while you are at work! (Move the rubbish bin!)
Please do not muzzle your dog and think you can safely leave him unattended!

When muzzles are used for the right reasons they can be a positive tool but they are not a replacement for training your dog!

Watch Jambo enjoying a “smooch”!

Please make sure to check out Sapphire and Cobalt’s Facebook page!: The Canine Crusaders – Cobalt and Sapphire.

You can visit Jambo’s Facebook page here: Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog.

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you don’t miss any of our videos! http://www.youtube.com/dogtricksonline.

The next time you see a dog in a muzzle please realise that they probably have a very responsible owner who is doing their upmost to keep their companion and others safe. When more people begin to use muzzles in routine training, for travelling and even as an opportunity to do something fun with their dog, then their appearance will become less startling and hopefully, the stigma of the “aggressive” dog will disappear!

Remember to have fun with your training – Lots of positive reinforcement (rewards) and no force, fear, pain or intimidation!

To find a certified force-free trainer:

The Pet Professional Guild.
https://www.academyfordogtrainers.com/aboutgrads/Academy_Graduate_Referral_List.pdf
Victoria Stilwell Dog Trainers.

Karen Pryor Academy.

The Institute of Modern Dog Trainers.

Jambo says hello!
Jambo says hello!

Jambo Recommends Fit For A Pit – Great Stuff For Your Dogs!

Jambo’s Hierarchy Of Rewards!

a remember to reinforce

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!

air dried beef heartham and cheeseBig-Als-MeatballsIF

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! 

a hierarchy

Jambo’s highest value reinforcer:  “The Nando Boomer” by Jambo® coming to your high street soon!

Jambo’s Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/StaffyChampion.

Jambo and Tessa’s YouTube Channel:  https://www.youtube.com/dogtricksonline.

Post published with the permission of Nando Brown:  https://www.facebook.com/InTheDoghousedtc  https://www.facebook.com/Incredimal  https://www.youtube.com/user/InTheDoghouseDTC

Jambo – Mischievous Puppy to Trick Dog Champion!

How did we achieve this?

The answer is simple – with Positive Reinforcement Training!
No force, no fear, no intimidation, no manipulation, no compulsion…..

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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!

 

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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!

Jambo – The Story So Far.

Jambo’s Story so far:  Dog Tricks, Positive Reinforcement Training and how B.S.L. impacts on his life.

 

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Jambo is our second Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Our first beautiful    Staffy was called Samson – he was the most loveable boy ever, calm, good natured, playful… He died at the age of 11. He was able to spend his life in freedom without the restrictions of BSL.  His best friend was our Dobie/German Shepherd, Bess, who was a couple of years older than him.  We would go for long walks in the countryside and on the beach where they were able to run around and have fun and freedom.
Picture_003 bess and sam
 
 
A couple of years after Bess passed away we added Tessa, our beautiful German Shepherd to our family. She and Sam became best buddies but she only had his company for a couple of years as he was already 9 when Tessa joined us. Tessa was nearly 5 years old when Jambo came into our lives.  We knew we would like another Staffordshire Bull Terrier but we could never have guessed the impact this little puppy was to have on our lives!
Jambo was born in May of 2012. His pedigree name is “Warrior For Life” but I wanted a name that would reflect his personality and not be too “hard”.  I also wanted to name him after our first Staffy boy, Sam.  Jam rhymes with Sam and Jambo is the Swahili (think “warrior”) word for “hello” – Jambo just loves to say hello to everyone he meets.
Jambo proved to be extremely loving, very mischievous, inquisitive, energetic and quite a handful!  I started teaching him the basics straight away but as he got a little bit older I also wanted to do something fun to use up some of his boundless energy.  Hence began our journey into doing Dog Tricks, which we were introduced at a Trick Dog Seminar given by Nando Brown.  Breed Specific Legislation was also now in force in Spain (it entered in vigour in 1999) and I wanted Jambo to be an absolute example of how amazing the “Bullies” are.  I think that if you have a breed affected by legislation in this way then you should do your utmost to show everyone how wrong it is.  We were out to smash the stereotype!
Jambo got his first Dog Trick Title at just 7 months old and by 14 months old already had 7 Trick Dog Titles including “Expert”.  We also worked on general obedience and agility… We train everything using Positive Reinforcement and love to point out to people that it is a total myth that you need to have a “stronger” hand with this “type” of dog!  I am not Jambo’s leader and I don’t command him to do anything. We work together as a team and he gets rewarded with food and play and cuddles and fun.  I firmly believe that we would never have achieved what we have if I had tried to train him in any other way.  The main thing Jambo and I do is enjoy ourselves!
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At only 16 months old Jambo achieved what no Staffordshire Bull Terrier had done before – he became a Trick Dog Champion!  We immediately launched his Facebook page, Jambo – Staffy Bull Terrier Trick Dog, to celebrate his Trick Dog Champion Title and to promote doing Dog Tricks and Positive Reinforcement Training.  We hoped to inspire others to do more with their dogs.  We also wanted to do our best to help break the stereotype of the “Bullies” and show the injustice of B.S.L.!
In 2013 he was featured as Dog Of The Week for Your Pit Bull & You.                                                                               Picture
 
He has won rosettes and trophies for Obedience, Agility, Tricks, Best Dog, Best of Breed.  He loves people and loves playing with other dogs.  His photos and videos have been shared by DDA Watch UK who work tirelessly to help dogs and families affected by B.S.L., as well as by many other groups fighting against breed stereotypes and Breed Specific Legislation.  Picture
 
At the end of the year he was honoured to be named as “Dog Of The Year 2013” by In The Doghouse DTC in recognition of all we had achieved and for his work as a Bully Breed Ambassador. Picture 
 
His name has become synonymous with Force-free Training and helping to break the “Bully” breed stereotype.
He is one of the dogs being featured in StubbyDog Project’s spay/neuter campaign and his photo will be on posters and flyers distributed in vets’ offices across the U.S.A.
His story has been shared across the Web and some of his trick videos have recently been airing on “Talent Hounds” a T.V. show on The Pet Network in Canada.
Despite all of Jambo’s accomplishments, his training and his good character he is classified by the authorities as a “Potentially Dangerous Dog”!   Jambo was born into B.S.L. and although there is no outright ban on his breed in Spain, B.S.L. affects everything we can and cannot do.  Jambo had to be registered as a Potentially Dangerous Dog.  He has to be kept on leash (1m) and muzzled when in public. We have to get an annual veterinary health report stating the inexistence of illnesses that could make him “especially dangerous”.  He has a microchip – the number of which is registered as that of a potentially dangerous dog.  He has to be enclosed by walls of at least 2m high (or kept on a chain – which we would never do as life on a chain is no life at all) and put in a secure location should visitors come to our home.  He has to be registered with the local town hall.  He cannot go near any area designated for children (play ground, park, school).  I have to have a Potentially Dangerous Dog handler’s licence; a psychiatric report; no criminal record; a physical report stating I am able to “handle” him; public liability insurance for at least 175.000 euros. I cannot walk or transport more than one “dangerous dog” at a time…. Fines for infractions are up to 115.000 euros and the authorities have the right to seize and destroy if they see fit!  The following breeds come under BSL here in Spain:  American Pit Bull Terrier; Staffordshire Bull Terrier; American Staffordshire Terrier; Rottweiler; Dogo Argentino; Fila Brasileiro; Tosa Inu; Akita Inu.  Different states/regions also include other breeds eg. some areas include the Doberman, others all Mastiff types and others the German Shepherd Dog.  Legislation also includes any crosses of the above breeds and any dogs with the “right measurements” – width of chest, head, mouth; length of leg; weight; short hair….a bsl muzzle blue
There’s to be no running free in the countryside or on the beach for Jambo…. 
By sharing Jambo’s photos and videos we hope to show everyone how awesome the “Bullies” are; To show how Positive Reinforcement Training is the ONLY way to train; To show that you don’t need to be a “Pack Leader” or bully your dog just because he happens to be a “Bully”;  To show the fun you can have doing Dog Tricks and finally, to spread the word about the injustice of Breed Specific Legislation.  Whatever breed is targeted, B.S.L. is, at its best, “racism” and at its worst genocide…..