Monthly Review: February 2021

The very thought of writing a monthly review held me accountable during the entire month of January.

What Went Well?

Training Max

In my last review, I mentioned that the retrieving wasn’t great. So the entire month of February I focussed on teaching Max to bring the item back to the hand. Max can now bring any non-reinforcing object to my hand.

Training Laika

I originally planned to desensitise Laika to the sound of crackers and bus honks. But I deviated from the plan and focussed on improving Laika’s tugging and retrieval.

Miscellaneous

Laika, begin an independent dog, sees little to no value in me me when I don’t have food rewards. I want to build value for engaging with me.

Also, Laika whines when she finds puppies in sight during our walks. This is because she is too excited. This has to be counter conditioned.

Goals For March 2021

Training Max

  • I want to improve the hold with Max. I should add both duration and distraction.

Training Laika

  • I want to Laika to tug in five unfamiliar locations in and around the house.
  • I want to desensitise Laika around puppies.

Monthly Review: January 2021

Every year when January hits, the new year gets us all jazzed up. Most people ideate about how the new year should be but only a few turn it into reality. Unfortunately I have been letting all these years slip away. Starting this year I wanted to be more mindful.

Why A Monthly Review?

I’ve been training dogs for more than two years. Whoo hoo! All these time I was too focussed on my dog’s micro behaviours — teaching my dog to SIT, DOWN, BARK, etc.

Only recently I understood the magnificence of building a working relationship with my dogs. I also realized that without a plan, I’m heading no where in my training. This was an aha moment in my dog training journey.

Starting this January I shall be setting a goal or two for each of my dogs and shall be reviewing our progress at the end of the month.

The Focus For January

Max: Teaching Max to retrieve.
Laika: Unfortunately I couldn’t focus on Laika much.

What Went Well?

The retrieving behaviour in its entirety isn’t great yet. However I was able to identify where we are slipping.

The retrieve behaviour consists of three micro behaviours — creating interest in an object, holding the object and retrieving the object. I was trying to tackle all at once which didn’t take us anywhere.

Recording, re-watching our training sessions and being part of a great community helped us to split the behaviour in to the following

  • tug — build the tug drive
  • hold — duration / distraction
  • bring to hand

Now that I figured the pieces of the puzzle, I shall be working on these one at a time.

Goals for February

With Max, I want to build the drive for tugging and work on bringing objects to hand.

With Laika, I want to desensitize her to the sound of crackers and bus honks.

Today, I’m grateful because training my dogs paved way for me to meet wonderful people around the world.

Align Yourself With Nature To Stay Healthy

I met my school friends at the 7 Stones restaurant last Wednesday, after almost six months.

We had a good evening, chit chatting, snapping pictures and finding out what each one was up to since the last meet up.

Everyone except me were vested in using a gadget to track their daily activity to keep their physical activity in check.

No offence to any company that makes these tracking devices — I realized that having something around that reminds me that I have not accomplished my activity for the day makes me feel guilty even more. I would rather do something that I enjoy at the same time keeps my physical activity in check, say watering plants for example.

I was using a FitBit tracker. The tracker did what it was supposed to do — reminded me that I have to meet the day’s goal. I slipped the goal over and over because of the nature of my work. I couldn’t roll anymore with the guilt that accumulated over time. Rather than enjoying the walk I dreaded myself.

That was when I decided to change of all that by picking a childhood dream that would push me to do something away from the screen and without dreading. In due time, I brought home my first dog — Max, the Lab.

That priceless expression

Max is two years old as on today and I hardly skipped a walk in the past two years. Rain or shine, once you get a dog, you can never skip walking your dog. I’m sure most dog owners can relate to this.

Science says dogs are most active during two times a day — around 7 AM and around 7 PM.

That made me realize that those are times when most people take a walk. Aligning yourself with nature is the best way to design your life and to stay healthy.

What A Beautiful Day!

மேகக்கூட்டங்கள் விலகிட
பறவைகள் கானமாட
இலைகளின் நுணியில் பனித்துளிகள் நடணமாட
அண்டத்தின் பெரும் ஒளியாய் திகழும் கதிரவன் தோன்றிடும்
எழிலையும் மிஞ்சியது —
உன் முகத்தில் மலரும் புன்னகை.

— உன் அப்பா

என் எண்ணங்களுக்கு வண்ணம் பூசிய தாய் தமிழுக்கு தலைவணங்குகிறேன் இன்றும் என்றும்.

Associative Learning In Dogs And Babies

Babies and Dogs learn at a much faster pace. It is quite amazing to see how well they associate stimuli and respond based on the stimuli. This is called Associative Learning.

By learning Canine behaviours, I knew that the psychology behind dogs and babies (humans) are very similar. But I never expected that the learning in both species would be at such an amazing pace.

If you would like to observe associative learning in both species — give them a positive experience by making a sound or saying a word. And in no time just by hearing the sound or the word, they would be expecting for the experience to happen.

Today I’m grateful for my parents who inculcated contentedness along with many other values in me.

Laika Turns One

Laika

Last year, this day, I found Laika on the streets. This video inspired me to adopt Laika.

Laika challenged my dog training skills. I had to push myself because of her. I’m what I’m today and the credit goes to her. She still is a challenge for me in terms of training a dog but we are overcoming the challenges together.

I wish Laika a happy birthday and many more happy returns.

The First Yum Yum — Weaning

Six months have passed since our son’s first cry. Whew! Time flies. In the recent visit to the doctor, we were advised to wean the baby.

I had the pleasure to watch my son eat his first meal. Thanks to the technology and the remote work without which I would have missed a golden moment in life.

Though our son wasn’t sure how the food tasted yet he kept his smile in between his quivers.

A Sugary Banana Pup

My wife and I had our baby, recently. And I can’t think of a better word to describe the new addition to our family a sugary banana pup. I felt the urge to write today and my son was my immediate thought.

I thought of coming up with a title that described baby without actually using the word. Lately I have been gravitated towards cultivating plants in a way that mimics nature. I thought I could use an analogy from nature to come up with the title.

I got two Banana saplings a few months ago. The saplings grew to an extent where I could see a few Banana pups shooting from the base of the mother plants.

The recent interest in cultivation made me curious to learn more about the Banana pups. These pups depend on the mother plant for survival just like human babies. Nature is amazing, isn’t it?

That’s how I ended up with a sugary banana pup.

Where To Get Combai Puppies?

Disclaimer

This is neither an advertisement post nor I have been been paid to write this.

I have been on the lookout for a Combai pup that serves the purpose it has been bred for, for two years. After two years into searching, I found someone who helps people get Combai pups from people who breed these dogs for generations.

In the recent times, more and more people are interested in raising native breeds. The increased interest also paves way for exploitation.

People are willing to transfer INR 15,000/- in the blink of an eye just by seeing a video clip on YouTube to get a Combai pup. This is not to say that a Combai pup isn’t worth INR 15,000/-

Bitches undergo hardships in the hands of non-ethical breeders. By buying puppies at hefty prices we are only supporting these unethical breeders.

If you are really interested in raising a Combai puppy I strongly suggest you learn about the breed before getting one. Mr. Ramanathan shares a ton of information about Combai breed on his YouTube channel.

Three of my acquaintances got four Combai puppies in total from Jeevan Pets. Now the puppies are 120 days old at the time of writing this post and the dog parents are extremely happy with their dog’s temperament and growth.

Update:

Out of the four puppies, only two are alive and the other two were affected by parvo within a week of purchase.

The cost of a Combai pup at the time of purchase was INR 5,000/-

Growing fenugreek

Fenugreek (வெந்தயம்) is one of the herbs that you can easily grow in your home garden. If you’re new to gardening like me, I suggest you start with Fenugreek.

I always like to try new things out. Gardening has become my recent hobby. I think my interest in gardening originated after listening to the green Indian crusader G. Nammalvar’s speech in YouTube.

Alright, join me in growing Fenugreek. I shall keep you posted on the progress by posting pictures every couple of days.

Let’s begin

A 6″ deep grow bag should be suffice to grow Fenugreek. The potting mix could be your garden soil and compost. The ratio used in this grow bag contains 2 parts of garden soil and 1 part of compost.

Sprinkle the Fenugreek seeds and cover with the potting mix for about 1 or 2 cms in height.

Uses

  • Fenugreek is used as an ingredient in spice blends and as a flavouring agent in foods and in beverages.
  • Fenugreek is used to keep diabetes in check.
  • Fenugreek helps to builds breast milk supply in women.

References

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)