More to Spokane than Dogs

Seems like ages ago we left Spokane and the dog conference – a few more posts to come on that, stay with me – and it’s probably good too as it’s snowing in that neck of the woods now. And you know the best part of that, I am writing this poolside in Palm Springs where it has been a magnificent day and will be just as magnificent tomorrow. Only problem, poolside beer costs more than the el-cheapo we have been having – but, who cares … Here’s a photo, which I took right now (and you should have seen the sunset change colour as I type)

Ace Hotel

Anyway, thought it was about time I gave a little more about Spokane, which is inland and the fourth largest city in the Pacific Northwest – we visited the others above it being Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. I don’t think there is really much in Spokane apart from an international airport, skiing and obviously conferences.

There is an excellent river and walking paths and it felt pretty safe in the areas we ventured downtown. Spokane is also where the Gonzaga University is situated (famous for basketball and last season they had two Aussies on the roster). Hint, if not sure of where to go aside from the regular tourist places, go to a city where there is a large university as these towns are generally pretty well looked after.

Spokane, surprisingly (??), also had some excellent eating places. And one more thing, there are car parks everywhere a building once was (it’s not a city of high-rise or anything new – apart from the convention centre). Oh, and as well as being known for the above-mentioned, I bet you did not know that Spokane has the largest radio flyer wagon cart in the world.

Radio Flyer

 

And that’s pretty much for Spokane. Unless you are going to a conference or want to try skiing elsewhere, or maybe want to fly in from elsewhere, this is probably the closest you will ever get to Spokane.

Here are some random shots –

The owls were flying

Okay, back to the holiday – or should I say vacation. I mentioned we picked up our car in Seattle for the drive over to Spokane and then from Spokane, driving on down to Portland.

We have a Nissan Altima with Oregon plates, which helps in fitting in with the crowd. It’s not bad to drive but there is some terrible glare through the windscreen, i.e. bouncing off the rather large dash. The radio is okay and does well at selecting all kinds of music in this area – country or christian. Although we did find one that was original rock, think AC/DC et al.

Staying on the right is not a problem, just those damn windscreen wipers being where the indicator should be.

The first drive was about 4 hours which was very scenic as we drive through the forested mountains but then flattened out to not very much as we got closer to Spokane.

Home » The owls were flying » Seattle to Spokane
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The second trip, well that was the opposite, although at one stage we drove through a dust storm – very windy, very dusty. Especially in one place – Connell – that had a prison and trailer park; and dust and a not so clean rest-stop but when you gotta stop you gotta stop as there aren’t many opportunities and it does add to the fun(?) of the trip. Although we did a detour to stops for lunch at Bacon & Eggs in a place called Walla Walla, which is a bit of a wine area and fantastic food.

And I almost forgot, the trip was that much more exciting as Mr Garmin sent us on Washington side of the river to the older state highway, rather than the Oregon side on the newer interstate – still got to the same place just a different view.

Home » The owls were flying » Spokane to Portland
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Excuse some of the photos as not easy using a camera while driving and there are the customary bugs on the screen. I’ll stick a map in here when I can remember how to do it … and I remembered

 

APDT Conference: Day 1.2

To round out day one we had a series of short 20 minute sessions on a variety of topics.

First up was Lauren Fox with “The best marketing you never paid for.” This session was about how to market your business by getting engaged with rescue shelters. Maybe some got something out of this but not relevant to me.

Next was Colleen Pelar with “Your role in reducing dog bites“. Colleen specialises in dogs and kids and has written several books on the topic. There was some interesting food for thought from this session, I particularly liked the comment that society is keen on legislation for safety but is it the answer, does it stop the problem? She said that some of the problem (or maybe most of the problem) is us and the relationship we have with our dogs. For instance too many people do not recognise the problem – my dog gets grumpy sometimes, or he doesn’t like children … but he will never bite.

Unfortunately, we tend to categorise dogs into either aggressive or non-aggressive but Colleen prefers a traffic light categorisation of: green, yellow, red. The green is enjoyment; the red is for enough already; and the yellow is the middle ground – tolerance – was it good for you. It is this behaviour continuum we need to look at and not the two category approach.

Colleen was followed by an excellent session from Virginia Dare who is a nationally recognised clicker trainer and the co-producer of the Bow-Wow series of DVD (recommended by Jim). Virginia’s session was titled “Stimulus control“.

Stimulus control is achieved when the expected behaviour is performed reliably when cued, only offered when given the cue, and not offered on a different cue.

We need to be precise and consistent but we also need to define exactly what is the behaviour and also: what is our starting position; are we reinforcing tag-alongs (extras); be clear about what is the exact sound/look of the cue. We need to use the cue consistently to avoid guessing from the dog or confusion. When achieving consistency we also need to make the extras irrelevant. Another important point was that when trying to be consistent everyone has to use the same cue.

We have to train the dog to understand the cue and then wait for the cue. We start off with single trials. Avoid repeating the cue as this provides an opportunity for guessing. If the dog gets it wrong, Virginia prefers to pause and then give a different cue. And don’t laugh or make a fuss at the wrong behaviour as this can sometimes be reinforcing for the dog. And if using props, eliminate them – this was demonstrated using a dowel for commands of touch, take it, paw and down. Virginia also rewarded when the prop was presented and the dog offered no behaviour as this demonstrated to her that the dog was responding to the cue and not the prop.

She then recommends adding distractions, then to take it on the road and begin cueing in novel contexts and when the dog is not expecting a training session. Then mix up the new cue with established cues but pair them carefully giving the dog a high chance of success. Ping-pong between opposites and pause between cues. Don’t let the dog drive the speed and don’t establish a pattern as that then becomes what the dog learns as opposed to learning the cue.

Overall, I enjoyed this session, which was followed be Teoti Anderson who gave an insightful session on how proper communication – written and verbal – is important to your professionalism, credibility and acceptance: “When grammar attacks.”

And to run out the day we had Veronica Boutelle talking about business – I didn’t take notes so I have no prompts.

So day one ended, with a walk around the river – Spokane is an old, quiet city with a beautiful river and waterfall. I’ll post some pictures elsewhere as I think of what to write for Day 2, which ended today (Thursday my time). But here is a picture of the 20th Anniversary cake. (… and it was good too)APDT 20th Anniversary cake

APDT 20th Anniversary cake