Mesa’s New Diet

Mesa’s New Diet
We are now in our 4th week of home cooked meals around our place for Mesa.  Since I have been feeding my oldest (4.5 yo) border collie, a home cooked diet, I have noticed 3 positive changes in her:

  • Fresher Breath
  • Plays with Other Dogs (instead of just toys)
  • Shows Excitement for her Meals

We have taken a recipe from Monica Segal’s book titled K9 Kitchen – Your Dog’s Diet: The Truth Behind the Hype. (See the links page for more info). We have changed Segal’s printed diet to accommodate our lifestyles better. The main ingredients in this recipe are:

  • Beef Liver and Heart
  • Ground Goat and Elk
  • 2 Eggs
  • Rice, Lentils and Carrots
  • Vitamins B, C and E
  • Salmon with Bones
  • Ocean Kelp

This is a glimpse of what our concoction looks like.  When I showed a friend one of Mesa’s meals, he exclaimed “Wow, she eats better than I do.”

Bowl of Mesa's food

An important ingredient when making home cooked meals for your dog is raw bones.  In the recipe, we use canned, wild-caught Sockeye salmon, with bones.  We also supplement through out the week with large Raw Meaty Bones (RMB).  RMB’s serve as great baby sitters when I need to get some work done without doggie interruptions.

Raw Meaty Bones

Mesa with RMB

In order for your dog to feel and act good on the outside, she must feel and act good on the inside.  It’s been rewarding for me to cook for my dog and see the positive results.  As people are unique, so are dogs and not all dogs can eat the same food as their house mates. I encourage dog owners to assess the label on their bag of kibble and research what each ingredient does, or doesn’t do for their rocking canine.  I know the price of the kibble I buy has gone up considerably in price per pound.  Though I haven’t figured out the cost per meal of home cooking for my dog I am sure I won’t be discouraged mainly because I know exactly what is going in and much of it comes right from my back yard.  I will post a cost analysis of the new home cooked meals soon.  Stay tuned.

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Charging and Using a Clicker

Charging and Using a Clicker
Now that you’ve seen what a clicker looks like (refer to previous entry re: clickers), here is a video of a clicker in action.
In this video, we are charging the clicker. This means giving the clicker value by rewarding each time I click. I am not waiting for or asking the chickens to do anything, I am purley making the association that the click sound means something great, wonderful and rewarding.

Note that I end after a session of 7 or 8. This is to let the hen “soak up” what she was just exposed to. I will begin several training sessions with charging up the clicker, reminding them the sounds means a reward.

By using the clicker training technique, I plan to teach several hens to load into my pickup and travel with me to the ranch to assist with bug control, especially grasshoppers.
Taking into consideration my criteria (distance, distraction, duration), I have chosen to begin this training near the coop where the chickens are comfortable, or a low distracting environment.
While Winnie (the yellow lab in the background) stands guard in the background, I begin with making the association that click means treat. Once I get a couple of subjects interested, I move closer to the ramp.
There I pull out a more valuable treat which is happens to be old hamburger bun this session. I make the attempt to click every time a chicken picks up the bread.
Once I got a hen on the ramp, I realized the hamburger bun was too big and bulky which created the desire for the prize getter to run away, not share her food but not want to stay on the ramp. I decide that little pieces of grain in my hand are easier to work with. As the hen moves ahead up the ramp, I click and reward her with a treat. With the click, I am marking the behavior (walking up the ramp) that I like. To provide the likelihood that behavior will happen again, I follow the click with a reward.

To build fluency, I will slowly increase my criteria. Stay tuned.

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Herding Whistles

To make life easier, “they” have developed whistles for handlers who herd.  Herd sheep, cows, chickens, geese, fish, children, balls, etc.  Anyone who plans to herd with their dog should try one of these.  They give a very sharp, clear and crisp whistle that can be heard miles and miles away. You can get whistles made of plastic and of brass and other metals.  The brass whistles give a crisper whistle but are cold to put in your mouth in the winter.  So far, I haven’t heard of anyone’s whistle sticking to their lips and I hope it stays that way.

In our herding class that begins in September, we will learn how to put whistles to our commands.

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Clicker Training

For those of you who have taken a Rocking K9 Companions class, you have heard me refer to the training method using a clicker.  Some of you have seen, heard, and used a clicker and some have not.  Here is a picture of 2 clickers.  The one on the right makes a softer sounds and has a button to push.  The clicker on the left makes a sharper click by pressing the metal part down with your thumb.


Clickers make a sound (a click) that resembles the noise a pen makes when pushing the top of it.  Clicks are used to mark behaviors you like in a dog, horse, chicken, and many other animals.  You can then build fluency of that behavior by rewarding the animals with a treat such as a toy, or food treat.

So the equation looks like this:  CLICK + REWARD = FLUENCY

Stay tuned for clicker training videos.

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Best In Show

This entry was inspired by a friend and a client who said “It doesn’t matter if my dog is the only one in a class or if she is in a class of 100, she is the BEST!  Best In Show.”            That’s true love.

In my high school days, I was involved in the local 4-H program.  1 year I decided to show a dog.  This dog’s name was Bill.  Bill was deaf but he was still a great dog.  This is Bill.


Bill and I attended some training sessions.  Before we knew it, it was time for the show.  Nervous as all get out, I washed Bill, combed him, crash course trained him the day of and we went to the show.

Bill and I walked out into the ring.  The judge approached the center of the ring.  The judge was my trainer from previous training sessions.  Great, I thought.  She’s going to be looking for extra good behavior from us since she knows us.  The announcer asked us to walk on.  It was then I realized that Bill and I were the only team competing.

We did our routine as asked.  The judge even had a bag of treats next to her at all times.  Talk about Distractions!  My deaf dog Bill did very well.  He did so well, we won a trophy.

Best In Show:  1994 Teton County Senior Dog Showman

Best In Show

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Somebody Was Listening

Last week at morning coffee with my chickens, I said to them “Ladies, if you get to laying some eggs, I will clean your coop.”

Morning Coffee with Chics

Much to my surprise, when I got home from work on Saturday, I found 2 new eggs in a nesting box.  I guess I didn’t realize how dirty their house was!

First 2 Eggs

Just for a fun comparison photo, I cooked 1 natural egg (top egg) and 1 white, store-bought egg.  The difference in taste was as different as they look.  We can’t wait for more eggs.  Good job chickens.  Thank you.

Natural vs Store Egg

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Backyard Agility

Sometimes when I don’t have everything I want, I make it or make it up.  On this particular afternoon, we didn’t have a jump.  So we made it up with a bar across the arms of the lawn chairs.  Worked just fine!

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4th of July Fireworks and Fun

Independence Day is a time for celebration.  Food, fireworks, family, human friends and dog friends make the celebration what it is.

Rocking K9 wants to remind you that not all of these activities we see as fun are fun or safe for your rocking canine.  Please take the time to keep your dog safe during this holiday.  In my experience, neighbors begin lighting off fireworks the week before and continue for the week following the 4th of July.  Many dogs are extremely sensitive to these noises.  The loud bangs, the high-pitched whistlers, the continuous pops and not to mention the smells and flashes of light.  I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard of people’s dogs running away during this time of the year.

So, what should you do?  If you leave your home, keep your dog inside, in her kennel or crate if she has one.  If you are at home when the fireworks go off, please keep your dog under watch at all times.  You can even help your rocking canine learn that fireworks are not to harm them by sitting outside with them on a leash, when a firework goes off and your dog has no reaction, reward that behavior with your marker work or sound and follow it up with their favorite treat.

Have fun and be safe, all of you.

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Chic Update

We want to let all interested parties see how big the Chics are getting.  They are happily foraging on delicious alfalfa and ripe compost from all of our kitchens.  Some are quite friendly.  Clicker training has begun on the friendlier ones – the treat being a hard boiled egg without the shell.  We haven’t learned any ‘tricks’ just charging the clicker (making the association that the clicking sound means treat time). Updates on the training are soon to follow.

These Chics Make Me Happy

These Chics Make Everyone Happy

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On the Injured List

2 weeks ago I visited with a friend of mine who mentioned her 2 dogs are on the injured list.  I ran into another client who said the same about his dog.  Mesa is also on the injured list.  Hearing these stories and having one of my own prompted this journal entry.

Many canine injuries and surgeries require very moderate, 110% managed exercise and care, often for 6 weeks or more.  Just as humans do, dogs can get very impatient with their bed-rest prescription and if turned loose, they over do it by running hard on weak joints, bones or muscles, crashing into other dogs during play, stepping up or down too far, etc.

So, what do you do when this happens.  Humans often read books, do puzzles, and sleep.  The 2 former activities exercise the brain.  When you have an injured canine that requires little physical exercise to get better, you need to exercise their brain.  I have stated in older entries that a dog that’s been mentally exercised for 15 minutes is much more tired than a dog that’s been physically exercised for 1 hour.

Not only can you introduce fun new games to your dogs vocabulary, but you can also work on maintaining old tricks as well.  Games you can play that require little physical exercise are listed below.  Please check with your vet on these tricks to make sure they are ok for your specific injury.

  • Touch
  • Watch
  • Object Games (Go Mat, Go Ball, Go Phone, Go Book, Go Pillow, etc)
  • Sit / Sit Pretty
  • Down
  • Stay
  • Speak
  • Spin / Twirl / Bow
  • Pa / La
  • Tick / Tack
  • Bow
  • Find It
  • Be Tall
  • Wave
  • Roll Over

Now I am not saying don’t exercise your injured canine at all.  Check with your vet to see how much and how often you can take your dog on walks, hikes, whatever.  I also want to remind you as a handler to stretch your rocking canine before any activity.  This could prevent unwanted injuries just as it does in human athletes.

Please contact me for more instruction on these tricks.

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