Tales from the jungle | July 2022

Tales from the jungle | July 2022

 

Hello, sloth community! Can you believe we’re more than halfway through the year already? We’ve already started preparations for International Sloth Day this October (Thursday, October 20th! Put it on your calendar!), but before that, here’s the latest news from the field:

 

Kukula Kids Club Photo Success!

Last month Girls Who Click hosted a photography workshop with our environmental club, the Kukula Kids’ Club. 12 kids got their own camera, some lessons in basic photography, and some conservation coaching for a fun week of nature and pictures. Quite appropriately, we even had a visit from a wild sloth, which was so perfect we couldn’t have planned it!

 

Sloth Crossings Update:

We’re only 16 bridges away from our next milestone: bridge number 200! We’re so excited we decided to celebrate early with this amazing video by Cederholm Photography. Check out that three-fingered sloth using one of our bridges!

 

Opossums, kinkajous, spider monkeys… and sloths, oh my!

So many animals use our Sloth Crossings bridges! We currently have a total of 16 camera traps monitoring bridges in order to test their efficiency.

 

Spider Monkey (ateles geoffroyi) using bridge SC-081 in Tortuguero

 

If you would like to see more about the Sloth Crossings update, including more footage of wildlife using the bridges, here is our latest blog!

Detection dogs to count sloths

We are tremendously excited to begin our Scat Detection Dog Project this month! Since sloths are so hard to spot in the trees, we are going to teach a dog to find their poop instead, and use sloth toilets to tell us about sloth populations in specific areas. Nothing like this has ever been done before, but the results of the pioneering study will be extremely important.

 

 

Sloths have spent millions of years evolving to not be seen, so it’s very difficult to count them…until now. Thanks to the Future for Nature award received by Dr. Cliffe earlier this year, SloCo has been able to partner up with Working Dogs for Conservation to start training our newest team members: Dayko and Kesha!

 

 

There is still a long way to go with this ambitious project, but we are starting to make some progress. Learn more about how Dayko and Kesha will help us count sloths here.

Fails of the month:

Sick Days are never over (Part II): It’s either Dengue or Covid, and this month it was both. Half the team was out sick this July, and the office was frequently closed for quarantine, mosquitoes, or simply lack of staff. Get well soon, guys!

The Urban Sloth Project team was scattered to the four winds this month when senior members Amelia and Ames had to return to their home countries for a bit, leaving Haley, Dayber, and Fran to hold down the fort. Oh, and train up our newest sloth tracker, Jose. Hi Jose! Welcome to the jungle!

Haley from the Tracking Team hurt her ankle while sloth tracking at the end of July, just before we had to close HQ for Covid (again). This is what comes from wandering around the jungle while staring at treetops through binoculars-you can’t watch where you step! We are at least happy to report that she is recovering well.

In other lessons for watching where you step, new sloth tracker Jose was out looking for Croissant in Arse End Swamp and stepped on what he thought was solid ground near Poo Creek… and, well, was soon up to his knee in Poo Creek. Without a paddle, as they say. On the plus side, he did find Croissant. We appreciate your sacrifice, Jose!

-Sloth Team

Canine Training To Prevent Attacks On Sloths and Wildlife

Canine Training To Prevent Attacks On Sloths and Wildlife

Certain wild animals, such as our sweet sloths, are slow-moving and would not be able to hide quickly. They are no match for a fast-running dog. It is not the dog’s fault that they have this instinct, but it is entirely up to us as pet owners to ensure that our dogs are trained well and learn not to attack wildlife.

 

dog aggressive attack

 

No matter where you live in the world, you share a habitat with local wildlife. Dogs and wild animals may run into each other from time to time, and the results can be severe. We have to take steps to protect both our dogs and wildlife from these encounters so that both dogs and wild animals can coexist peacefully.

 

Teach The Command “Wait”

The command “wait” is the command you will most want to focus on first. Your dog doesn’t have to hold a particular position, like when you use the phrase “stay” after the dog lays down so that it continues to stay in that position. But using the “wait” command is a way to make sure your dog pauses before going any further.

The animal hospital Bond Vet – Garden City, NY advises that you should start training this command when your dog is still a puppy, even though older dogs do have the ability to learn this.

The easiest way to help your pup understand this command is to have them wait before eating and before going outdoors. Praise and treats are highly recommended as well to help encourage good behavior when your dog waits.

 

dog training

 

In order to do this accordingly, you might consider enrolling your dog in socialization classes or dog training programs to make sure that your dog understands your commands and will obey you, no matter the situation.

As your dog progresses in learning the “wait” command, you can begin to take it outdoors and practice on more considerable challenges, such as using a toy, and eventually, another animal.

Some dogs may be easier to train than others, with some being more susceptible to learning commands quickly. However, once you have a solid “wait” command instilled within your pup, you can work to prevent it from chasing and confronting wildlife.

 

dog attack wildlife

Training With A Barrier

If you want to work training your dog specifically with other animals, it is a good idea to start with a barrier between your dog and the animal. Then you can work to find that optimal distance where your dog will not react when spotting the other animal and work more on the “wait” command.

If you find that your dog is too anxious and wants to move towards the animal, continue to work away from the animal and see when your dog can focus more on you.

Once you have established contact and your dog is obeying the command, reward it with a treat. If you find that the dog can’t concentrate on the treat, you need to continue working on your distancing.

You can use alternative rewards for treats here as well, such as a simple pet or a favorite toy, so that your dog understands it is receiving an award for exercising the correct behavior.

 

trainning

Training with a Toy

If you want to start with a toy, leave it in the middle of the room and step away. Then when you see your dog come upon it, use your command “wait.” Make sure you work with your dog and only reward it when it obeys the order on the first go.

You can experiment with intentionally leaving the toy unattended and wait to see if your dog goes towards it, not thinking that you are watching. When the dog starts to sneak towards the toy, use the command and see how quickly your dog reacts.

If you continue to do this often, your dog will understand that you are, in a sense, always watching. Enforcing this command when your dog can’t see you will also help catch your dog in a situation where things can escalate so that you can jump right to the command to get your dog to obey fast.

You should also know that it is essential not to let the dog play with this toy since it is only to be used for training purposes, and you want the illusion for your dog to treat it as if it was a real, live animal.

 

dog toy trainning

Dogs and Sloths

Sloths are particularly vulnerable wild animals to dog attacks since they are unable to jump or run. Costa Rica has a vast dog problem when it comes to wildlife attacks and the Oh My Dog! initiative has been initiated to work and stop dog attacks.

 

 

 

People like to let their dogs roam freely outside, particularly in Costa Rica and other parts of the South Caribbean, and it is all too common for a dog to attack other people, dogs, and wildlife.

Our job as owners is to keep a close eye on our pets and have commands like “wait” at the ready to keep them from chasing after other animals.

After all, your dog also has the susceptibility to end up with an injury from attacking wildlife, not just the wildlife becoming injured.

 

 

Dog Contact with Wildlife

Even if you have a dog with impeccable training, there is always the possibility that your dog will act on instinct first and not listen to your command. Minimizing your dog’s contact with any wildlife is part of ensuring that both your dog and other wildlife are safe.

Some steps you can take to keep your dog from encountering wildlife:

  • Don’t leave food outside that might bring about other animals.
  • Don’t hike with your dog far into the woods, especially right at dawn or sunset, when more wild animals are active.
  • If you want to hike and have your dog come with you, it is safer to hike in a group so that other wild animals will keep their distance.
  • Keep your dog on a leash when outdoors, especially if hiking or in a location where there might be wild animals.

dog running trainning

 

Your dog’s urge to chase will be a strong one, but if you take the time to practice and work closely and frequently with your dog, it can overcome its urge. If your dog learns to look to you for permission and commands, it strengthens your bond and prevents your dog from acting solely on its instinctive responses.

 

Nicole McCray-