Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Website Name Change and Move - Belgian Malinois Tails

We have decided to upgrade and get our own domain name. All the content here is on the new site and hopefully easier for you to use. Please stop by: Belgian Malinois Tails.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Belgian Malinois: What Happens When They Fail Police Training?

I recently read an article in the Washington Post about the use of Belgian Malinois at the White House. It is about two years old, you can read it here.

What caught my attention was the part about training and when they remove the puppies from their mothers. “The training begins three days after birth. It starts with “biosensor stressing”: stimulating the puppy’s toes with Q-tips, breathing in its face, exposing it to a variety of people and stressful sounds: gunfire, thunder, sirens, motorcycles.” I have read that puppies can be taken from 6-8 weeks, but also that proper police training should not begin until about 12-15 months. I do not know. What is the typical process?

The trainer the Washington Post article uses says the puppies are removed early in order to form a bond with the human. I get that and understand that the momentum is important to start developing all the required working dog traits and habits. But what happens when the puppy fails and is put up for adoption? It seems that its sense of bonding/attachment may get pretty jacked up.

I mention this because I believe this likely happened to our Malinois. She is nearly 3 years old now and we have had her for 6 ½ months. She has adjusted well to “family” life. One odd thing, to us anyway, is how super affectionate she has become.

By our observations, it seems like she never received much nurturing and attention before - and now she constantly craves more of it. She jumps into my wife’s lap and curls up like a puppy. She also plays like a puppy. All the time. Non-stop. It’s like she is reliving her puppyhood all over again. She loves all the baby talk and affection towards her.

This is not bad or unwanted behavior. We do keep her enthusiasm in check. But it made me think of what she, and other “failed” pups, missed in their early development. I frequently wonder what she was like and what her life was like when she was a pup. I believe it is very similar to children who do not get the nurturing and attention they need and later develop attachment disorders and other psychological issues.

It has been interesting and warming to see her develop this way. I believe it shows that these dogs can be re-trained for family life but it takes some extra work and care. Here are some recent pictures of our Malinois doing this and enjoying the attention. Do you have similar experiences?


Monday, September 5, 2016

Beligan Malinois Destructiveness and Toys

Any dog can be destructive if it is bored. This destructiveness manifests from not having good training, a job, proper socialization, etc. This can be chewing the leg off of your sofa or table, digging unwanted holes in your yard, or your mattress. We're not talking about puppies who chew up your favorite shoe or some speaker wires. Imagine a minimum 60lb dog with steel-trap jaws being bored in your home.

As we said in the first post, a Belgian Malinois needs to have a job. Destructiveness bred from boredom is just one consequence if you do not give a Malinois a job. This is not a training guide - we are not professional trainers or claim to be one; these are things that work for us. The job can be anything that keeps the Malinois' mind occupied and focused.

The job can be something as simple as repeating and executing commands, such as Sit, Down, Sit. You can mix them up and add others (place, extended sit, extended down, crawl, etc.)  They never get bored of doing them. They may get stubborn about it, but that helps you work on being the pack leader/boss and getting compliance.

The job for your Malinois can also be playing tug, carrying a stick or toy while on a walk, socialization in your home or in public places. Keeping their minds focused is the key. What if they don't have a job or I can't training/play with the Malinois for a period of time?  Again, we're not trainers, but we have found that putting our Malinois in her crate during such situations works well. The dog can rest, chew on a toy, or crash - which happens more often than you would think.  For example, we have a crate in the living room, which is always open, except for these rest periods - it is a safe haven for our Malinois; and one upstairs which is her "bed".

For those who don't like crate training - our dog practically lived in a crate the first two years of her life as an LEO dog in training. She is used to it and likes it. We did crate train our dachshunds and they also feel this way.

Getting back to toys. Malinois love toys. They love to chew them, rip them, and eat them. This is good because it is a relatively inexpensive way to keep them focused. They will destroy something in your home. It is better if it is a cheap toy than something valuable. No toy we have bought has lasted more than a month except for bones. The "indestructible" ones were obviously never tested with a Malinois. We have found that the cheap rubber/latex toys do OK. Anything plastic just begs to be chewed up quickly - frisbees, plastic tires, etc. The latex ones do not last long but they are kinda chewy like gum, at least for our Mal. They are a bit like pacifiers, but not for long.

Here is a picture of our current used toys, with new ones for reference. The new toys are the purple rubber chicken (she's gone through two of these recently but they seem to last the longest), the green alligator, and the green Frisbee.

Examples of current toys - surviving and not so:
  • 3 Knotted nylon "tug" toys - the purple one used to have a tennis ball in it. Destroyed after a day of playing
  • Plastic Frog - chewed up after a couple of hours.
  • Black Frisbee - still holding up but chewed-up around the sides
  • Purple latex dog - ear has been chewed in less than an hour
  • Red bone "for large dogs" - it lasted one day
Malinois Toys
Malinois Toys

Again this is something that has worked for us. If you have and suggestions or questions, please comment below. Thanks.