Monday, May 31, 2010

I don't mind rain when...

rainbows appear and the sky opens up just in time for us to go for our evening hikes

it creates lush vegetation...everywhere!

flowers and berries appear...check out how plump that raspberry is!

....1 1/2 hrs later coming to the end of our sky! 

...time to head home.....dirty nose from digging and all tuckerd out :o

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Things always seem to happen in 3's

The story of my life....First Keegan, then Daizy and now here's George's vs CAT video... we were JUST about to do door work after coming back from a hike, and standing under our tree on the front lawn, I JUST put my iphone on video mode, to capture George race to the front door and down when I say "Go home!"  and down from the tree we were standing below,  jumped a cat!!!.... TOTALLY took me by surprise and I tried to make the best of saying '" in a sugar voice but George didn't fall for it..... TO ALL YOU CATS OUT THERE...this was NOT nice.

Edited to split clips to explain what was going through my brain, but otherwise, you'll see me doing the best I could to make a crazy situation into a learning curve for George.  It's definitely not perfect, but ..well...nothing in life really is.  It's a night at the need a little bit of everything to make it into a robust, body tingling experience.

I love the fact that I can review to see what I could have done differently and what worked, like;

*don't repeat "George"...when he's over threshold. He normally does a great whiplash head turn when I say his in my mind at the time, being flustered myself, as this totally caught me off took a couple minutes for me to get into 'THINKING' mode ...hey...he's not responding to his try something different because you're only making him more tense by repeating it!!!!

*I had better luck saying words that had a reward or were informative like...."sniff", "take it", "good boy", "show me"...for not lunging and keeping his distance, it took a lot of will power for George, and even if it wasn't what I would have liked to see happen...he did show restraint...and that's a great place to start with Control Unleashed exercises! Like...LEAVE IT :P

*I tried to create distance and keep his leash loose at the same time.

*Tone of voice is so important! I think the turning point was praising him for sniffing and playing the show me game. That's when I notices his body becoming more relaxed.

*re: biofeedback, any and all instances where George's body looked like he switched from ALERT to a more semi-calm state I "yes'd" him and when he looked over to me, I was doing my "I'm so proud of you squinty eyes, slow blink and smile" when he looked at me after I praised him for 'sniffing" and "showing me" the cat.  BEING CURIOUS is not a CRIME in my if they show interest, even if it's with a stressed body them the go ahead to "SNIFF" OR  investigate...REALLY helps to calm'll notice George's body and whole mindset change when I let him know "SNIFFING" at a distance IS allowed and encouraged!

*I also tried to take deep slow breaths and move slowly and fluidly, no quick jerky motions.  It went against what I was feeling but in the end made ME CALM DOWN faster, and get back into doing what it takes to diffuse the tension.

*the fact that he did NOT LUNGE, MACHINE GUN BARK or go in to attack the cat....I 'YES'D" HIM for that as took a whole bunch of emotional self control to keep his distance when I'm certain his body was loaded and firing adrenaline & host of "take action!" chemicals.

I followed through only because;

1 - George is a scardy cat, he does not attack cats, but this was by far the most intense cat experience we've ever had. Normally his tail is raised but he's easily distracted to keep moving alone. I think because the cat came down from the tree on our property, and WE did't expect totally set off a trigger for George.

2- This cat loves to tease dogs, I don't know how else to describe his behaviour...w this is the second time in one week that he's come out of no where and done this. First time with Daizy, now George and it was on our property. He seems to tease but has never tried to attack my dogs anyways. His movements are slow...but really I wish cats were a bit less taunting....

Finally....this is YET ANOTHER reason to pack treats with you!!!! I had kibble and cheeze in my pockets from our hike and chips in my walking bag (they were for me) that's what I used!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

door dasher update #2 !

YOu can tell who I've been working with most....Daisy n George normally ride up front with me and they chill in cozy dog beds, so we've worked in dog beds but not recently ...since the last video.....from kennel in the trunk you can see first hand their expressions.."huh...what am I supposed to do?"
You'll see where our history of the way we communicate comes into play.  They are quick to catch on to this game :)  I absolutley LOVE this side effect of positive reinforcement training!  You don't hear one peep about "sound buzzer!!!!WRONG answer!!! ", you just hear me redirect or repeat what I'd like to see happen, then we repeat to see if they catch on.  Repeating a cue in the learning stage just lets you know YOU need to go back one step and reinforce (or cheer on and reward) what you'd like to see happen.  You'll see what I mean :)

Seizure averted! The power of food!

Yet ANOTHER GOOD REASON to train with FOOD!!!!!

Well it's taken a few years but I think, thanks to Daisy's holistic vet, Chinese herbs (she has a windy constitution), nutritionist Jill, owner of In the Raw petfood, research....trial and error....I THINK we've nailed down ANOTHER of the triggers of Daisy's seizures.  Hypoglycemia.

Luckily Daisy LOVES food...and all my guys are on a raw food diet 40 MEAT: 60 FRUIT VEGGIES organic WHEN possible.  Raw bones for dental hygiene.

It's so convenient too...just open the fridge door... chop and go! I use the blender to add veggies to their raw meat though because it's easier for them to digest.  I do use some kibble as well, I just have to be very careful of the type with Daisy.  Kibble is dry and easy to put into my pockets.  I do normally have a treat pouch in my hiking bag or Tupperware for chopped veggies (carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, cucumber, apple, mushrooms, onions and there are a few other veggies to stay away from...I'll dig up the site with info).  Being on a raw diet has cleared up Daisy's ear infections too.  We found out that she's sensitive to red meat & fish.  Which makes sense due to the fact that white meat has anti-inflammatory properties while red meat and fist do not ( fish you have to watch the pollutants in them as well).

Her body is very sensitive to additives so right now I am using Dick Van Patten's Venison and sweet potato dry food.

I really like it because the kibble is thin pieces so you can actually break it up even smaller, plus it doesn't expand like other kibbles when wet.  I actually take that into account as I see so many dogs that look like they swallowed and are shaped like a bag of economy size kibble!  Some kibble expands to 3times the dry size so I stay away from them.

Keeping their blood sugar levels balances is yet ANOTHER Good REASON TO train w/FOOD!  Hah!  I'm a snacker, I can't eat big mound of food then wait 5hrs to digest, then feel my body crash because it's out of fuel, so it totally makes sense to me!

Here's a site that I've found very very helpful and would recommend to anyone whose dog has begun to seizure and they're looking for information:

Normally when I come home from work, we hang out in the yard, they do their business, then play a bit, then we all come back inside and I grab snacks, pack my hiking bag and get ready to go out with them.

Yesterday, Daisy came back into the house after doing her business, and I came in a few minutes later.  It was unusual....when you have a dog who seizures ...the unusual in routine is something to take seriously.  I  came into the house to find her under a sofa, glassy eyed, starting the side to side movements in the "aura" stage of a seizure.

I grabbed a spoon and started with:

*honey (organic from our local beekeeper..quote from link above regarding how to get their glucose levels raised in a hurry! " The best source is honey. Honey, is made up of 35% protein & contains half of all the necessary amino acids. It is a highly concentrated source of many essential nutrients, including large quantities of carbohydrates (sugars), some minerals, B complex, and C, D, and E. Therefore, honey will immediately raise the blood sugar putting the body in balance and stabilizing the blood sugar level".  thankfully... she was still aware of everything around her, and licked it up...

*Then I grabbed a banana (potassium) and gave her some of that and

*lastly a scoop of peanut butter (organic). 
A few minutes of cradling her, talking to her to keep her alert and stroking her and she snapped out of it.  PHEWF.

Lucky for her, we have been able to keep her off meds, and have a pretty solid plan of action for her type of seizures.  I'm so thankful for all the resources available out on the internet which have helped me, along with finding a good holistic vet. I've added a spoon full of honey into her morning pre-breakfest, toast w/peanutbutter and banana stuffed kong :) 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

i love spring

Stage 2 of D & C complete!

I need this reminder to pump me up for Stage 3 w/George's D C work w/off leash dogs.
HE'S.....R E A D Y ! ! ! !

He's been through the D & C drill before, that's not new, so I account his speedy progress to:
*bio-feedback, me also using and rewarding any calming signals...even if it's something simple as he licks his lips, or yawns, looks away for a brief second or just stands still and lowers his tail.
*slowing down my pace when I see his tail raise or his body looks tense 
*packing his most favourite toys with me for our walks.
* He also LOVES the SHOW ME game! (Leslie McDevitt 'Look at that" game)
*rewarding the One Bark...and having conditioned him to when I say "thank you" a whole whack load of treats to search for are thrown for him or any of his highest valued rewards are presented at that now he'll bark once then look at me...CHA CHING!!!  I know he loves to bark too much to ever be a chilled out dog, so this way we meet half way.

I don't play intense highly repetitive toy games with him.  Just happy go lucky and in short increments;  like hiding the Skinnez, playing light teasing and tug and having him interact with it, by nose touching it, targeting it(laying on top of it) , getting him to down and then hide a treat under neath the toy so I can release him to 'find it" and plain old retrieving it.  My body language is relaxed, my tone of voice is well, annoyingly sweet to those around me's worked wonders. !

Calming signals from me that George responds nicely to and seems to diffuse the situation;

*When I squint my eyes and blink slowly to let him know I think he ROCKS!

*He LOVES when I lower my head and look shy too.  Don't know why but it melts him :)

*Also he loves when I wiggle, like Patricia McConnell's signature friendly meeting wiggle.

It was hilarious to watch, I saw her do it in a seminar and the strange dog...TOTALLY got what it meant.  She also talks in a goofy voice and it totally worked!  Almost like the play bow. Seems universal.

*I just watch the calming signals he gives me and if there's a human equivalent .... I just reciprocate.

I charmed a shy beagle in a class (she was a rescue from a cancer research lab) who came out of her shell using Patricia McConnell's wiggle.  Her name was Bagel. I'll never ever forget that day. I was assisting at Dogsmart. What a sad start to life, she was used in cancer research.  An approach from the side, averting eye contact only a quick look then look away, a little wiggle and goofy voice from me and it totally lit her up. She came out from under the chair and started to wag and interact with me.  

It's AMAZING how much information we can help them to decipher when we communicate with our body!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Keegan and cats

Keegan is such a curious, happy soul it's AWESOME but at the same time....he's highly triggered by movement and anything 'alive".

When I get the opportunity to work with him in a short increment with something that peaks his herding instinct....I do so if possible on and off leash. On leash first for safety reasons if possible, but in this case he's met Maren's cat before and he was already off leash.

Goal was to arc and go in for a sniff then return to me in short couple second increments.   I LOVED HIS DISTANCE ARC'S!  SHORT drive by, not rushing the cat head on. Keegan's eyes did not do a hard stare, he looked away, averted direct eye contact so that also was a CHA CHING moment for Keegan... that's polite and safe.

The cat stayed stationary, and didn't hiss so it was safe in that respect too.  BUT...the cat didn't initiate any walking up and relaxed or tease to come closer to rub up against him...SOOOOO I sure as heck was NOT going to ask Keegan to cozy up to the cat.

I always consider the emotional states of each player involved in the interaction.

You can tell he's not relaxed but is curious and cautious around the cat. I'd never ever think of asking him to stop,  sit or down beside the cat...his body language was in motion, not relaxed, tongue flick, ears alert then back...he's not ready for that. 

Let them know what they're doing right and it'll build confidence as well as prepare them for the next cat encounter. Not all cats (or dogs or humans) like close dog encounters so a distance arc and drive by sniff is a great way to satisfy their curiosity while keeping them safe.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy trails = wagging tails!

Morning hike with Maren her dogs Opal, Trixie and boarders (Lexy, Chester n Maggie)...crossing my fingers, toes and eyeballs that she'll partner together to do trail clinics for beginner adolescent dogs working on polite trail etiquette on and off leash; recalls, attention, polite meet and greets (body language basics of dogs and how yours can help them decipher English ;)

Also how to D & C for motion reactive dogs (dogs racing after moving bikes, kids, people)... which is soooo lacking in our area!  I put this together to show her how easy it is to let nature provide ample training opportunities with a few things we'd talked about as we walked that we noticed people in our area seemed to be completely unaware of.

ie... their idea of walking or training their dogs is basically, open the car door and let them run. 

All the dogs checked in often, and we were creative in using nature to peak their curiosity to come running and join in the fun..that way you're not always using and abusing your golden recall!  Plus you're building a history of fun and adventure!

We covered so many things that I would have appreciated learning in a class, mainly because we were in the environment! Also being in nature really helps calm dogs, and there are natural distractions and rewards EVERYWHERE! So people will learn to improvise and not feel like they'd have to rely on treats.  OR go into HOLY...mode..and panic because they are out of treats...which the dog reads their body language and PANICS TOOO!

I think that's where a lot of people give up.  Plus... dogs, being dogs...end up training the owners for the treats rather then the other way around.

There's so many other rewards that trump treats that people haven't been taught to take advantage of.   ie..TTouch.  I used TTouch on George when we were at the Chief doing D & C around dogs in the distance...a couple of TTouch circles along his back and he flipped over for a tummy rub and just instantly relaxed.  It's kinda like getting a shoulder rub when you've had a stressful day.  Or a hug when you're feeling overwhelmed.

Afternoon hike to Radio Hill with Darrell, Daizy, George and Taiki. Keegan was pooped after 3 hours morning hike, so he rested at home :)

I just LOVE my beagie-boos! GEORGE DID A CRAZY AWESOME JOB NOT A PEEP WHEN ENCOUNTERING OFF LEASH DOGS!!!! They're so much fun and sweet as can be. They LOVE adventuring!!!! I just have to make sure I keep our on leash skills sharpened

Sunday, May 23, 2010

City walking w/3 dogs

I went to pick up some raw food today for the dogs and took Daizy, George and Keegan for a walk afterwards in a novel area of North Vancouver.  It's so important to keep their city walking skills sharp otherwise it's not second nature.  I always start on a quiet street then wrap around to the retail area.  That way we can get our groove on before things get noisy and busy.

Walking in the woods on trails, or even in our neighborhood is not like being in the city where the sidewalks are busier and there's retail along with residential,  creating a buzz of new sounds, smells, people and other dogs to run into!  So today we went back to square one at first and before I knew it, Keegan remembered what the drill is when walking in the city :)
George was great today w/people and other dogs.  I don't stop to greet other dogs when mine are on leash on sidewalks as it gets to be a gong show playing leash twister.  PLUS....George is still fussy about the dogs he meets so I err on the side of caution. We either step aside in the grass and let people / dogs walk by or I'll cross the street.

I need a helmetcam or something to strap to my body :P...

Sometimes the best gifts

come from having to dig deep inside.

For a quiet person the dynamics of having two trigger happy Beagles and a crazy Aussie have provided me with countless hours of; me shaking my head and laughing while enjoying their daily comedy skits or having my heart swell with happiness when we all have a lightbulb moment.

As there is balance with everything in life, I've also spent (and continue to) countless hours scratching my head going back to the drawing complaints!  Being able to communicate my wishes and have them happy to learn, deepens our bond and truly is a gift.

It was today that I made arrangements  2yrs ago to go on a road trip to see Keegan puppy.  Out of all the puppies out there at the time (33 of them) I'm so lucky that he was the one meant for us. He's such a clown.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

April showers bring May flowers

I LOVE spring hikes!  LUSH vegetation and WILD flowers sprinkled EVERYWHERE!


Including Keegan......

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dogs on video work.....

Oh George...I forgot all about this...thanks for reminding me!

It's actually a good way to practice indoors in the comfort and low distraction area of your home...what would I do without my beagles who think of ways to keep me humble and on my toes...forever finding ways of loading my training tickle trunk up!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Leslie McDevitt dvd arrived!

Her new DVD arrived!!!  I love her book and am looking forward to the dvd of game demo's. It's always interesting to watch someone work through the babysteps and trouble shoot. They had free delivery too...boy that saves a bundle.
I'm just about to settle in with some icecream and the dvd :P
AND....we came up with a few more DOOR GAMES :) 

I've got to say that my goal is to incorporate more distance like Cynthia has but for now, I'm really pleased how much fun we're having with the reorienting and door games.   

Distance work always comes easily after criteria is clearly established.  I already have Patricia McConnell's door games under my belt where they sit and I'll release one at a time, from "Feeling Outnumbered". I use that game as well, their release word is "name of dog", then "go" but this reorienting is really valuable as well.

I like that it's a game and they whip their body around to face you. You'll see in the video how Keegan tweaks things to make it his own. I wasn't expecting him to reorient but he did and he downed! 'Go" normally means just move away from me and he'll just run to the door and wait for me. I'll have to change the word for this new twist behaviour to race away then turn and down towards me....all these words to keep track of and be consistent with! I love giving them the freedom to come up with twists that I can capture and shape into cues think would be fun to add to our ever growing repertoire.

It sort of reminds me of agility 'table" work, where they have to down on a table until they're released.

Right now my criteria is to build value for this game...which is when we walk through doors...going into or to the outside (freedom) to reorient to me first instead of racing out the door and piling on top of eachother or racing away:

1- no door dashing
2- no jumping on me
3- reorienting to me when we're going through or I'm coming in, as long as there's no motion forward I'll take a stand but sit or down preferred.

I'll raise criteria this weekend to:

1- either a sit or down before they are rewarded, without prompting
2-then I'll work on more space in front of the door by getting them to target to mats I'll place a few feet before the door. 

Starting distance work is always easier if they have some place to target...hence...Leslie McDevit's Mat work!

Adding distractions will come once I get them targeted to their own mats positioned in front of the door.

I'll video that too it'll be interesting to see the progression and whether I can get all the way up to closing the door then opening it to find them sitting patiently on their own mats. I love the idea of video'n them while I'm outside so I can see what happens behind the scenes when I'm not in the same room :)

I like using the mats with the bumpers around them. That way when I throw food or kongs for them to chill out with, everything stays on the mat.

Reorienting theme with a twist!  I really really find that handy.

whoooo hoooo!

I walk each dog separately in the morning so they get alone time with me...just a slow walk around a couple blocks each.  It's so sweet, the other ones watch in the window and wait patiently for their turn.

Each get alone time with me.  They check their peemail...we work on loose leash walking, and our obedience cues (stays, interrupted recall,  bonk, walking around them, front, goofy tricks), then after each have had their turn.... games in the backyard before I leave for work.

My little George and I were walking along and he initiated LOOKING AWAY from a dog that was... BARKING AT HIM!

George's signature snobby but effective "look away" :P

THEN very calmly and slowly looked at me without a peep :) We played the 'show me" game while dog in yard barked his head off...then slowly walked away.

A few minutes later we passed another dog (still body posture, thankfully w/owner) and we stopped to play "show me"....same relaxed tail and relaxed face! He even offered up a PLAY BOW without me cuing him to do so!!!!! No signs of stress!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Playing w/toys on our walks...building value!

I think it helps George to remain more relaxed when we're out and about if we mix in some play w/toys into our walks where there's more of a chance we'll run into other dogs.  I pack a Chewber, a Skinnez, a ball into my walking bag (along with treats, and sometimes small kongs or those bully chews if we're going to stop and chill for a while) to keep things interesting.  It sure has helped with recalls and making me part of their adventures when out and about. Mind you we go out in the evenings on 1-2hrs on and off leash hikes where we're in the bush and then out in the open spaces, so we've got lots of time to kill.

It also keeps George in a happy place and he's less obsessed with searching the environment for triggers. Daizy, Keegan, n Taiki all like to play with toys but George was the last to get into it. It has sped up his progress (along with D & C) to be able to relax and ignore the distractions and triggers.

Tonight we played car games then they sniffed around for a bit, hiked, did their business, then I threw cheese into the tall grass for him to "find it" to get him ramped up for playing with toys...then the games began!!!!

It's especially helpful to be toy motivated when we went to agility classes.

Actually I pack them for last round of Obedience trial prep and Train and Play classes as well. For Keegan it came in handy to have the bully chews as he needed something to do until he calmed down (still in adolescent dog brain mode where anytime he sees's time to PLAY) until he realized that we go to classes to be a team and chill to wait our turn  .Daizy is bossy, LOVES TO WORK and is very impatient by nature, so I learned 8 yrs ago the benefit to bringing toys and chews to help keep her chilled in classes.

That way when other dogs are working,  my guys can play, or chew or chill which prevents them from being whiny, fixated and vocal for being left out of the fun.  They come in handy in agility as we also use toys to get the dog to target to or reward for performing or for building value for an obstacle or cue. An alternate reward to using food.

Plus chewing and play relieves stress (endorphins et al released in your body)if you keep the games moderate intensity and ask them to interact differently with the toys so it's not a mindless game of retrieve or tug which can ramp dogs up out of control.  Leslie McDevitt has great section in her book Control Unleashed about games.

Ttouch is another big helper to calm them if they're over aroused. Biofeedback as well. Cues like "calm" and "coze coze" and even singing a silly song also help to relieve stress and work wonders in class.

As you can see....NONE of my dogs are those perfect chill dogs BUT....with all the games we've played and the calming cues, massage, toy play...they are focused on me in class. All that fun stuff going on around us and they have loose happy body language. Not focused to the point they're afraid to look at anything, or have that crazy maniac addiction for toys or stimulation.

I have a hard time sitting still... so being able to interact with my guys is really nice while we wait for our turn. I love their enthusiasm, and would probably drive a couch potato dog nuts!

Also...interacting with toys is a great way for me to know if George is stressed...if he stops playing with his favourite toy all of a sudden...time to move away and get some space between us and whatever George is being distracted by.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

car work and other stinky stuff

What a fun morning. We were hanging around the estuary for 2hrs.
Working and having fun...the way it should be.

Car work -Leslie McDevitt's 'Control Unleashed" re-orienting cue
1-getting in and out safely (waiting for a release cue, my new one is "okay" to reorient to me after jumping out of car)
2- going for a walk and returning to car then playing in and out games, so coming to the car doesn't mean all the fun is ending, then go on another walk
3  standing around car...waiting for people/dogs/bikes/ cars to come by and I'll either call them to me "here" (I don't use their recall word for this game it's entirely different context) and we play "show me" games where they look at and then look back to me for treats and stays while dog/person/car/ bike goes by...then we go back on walk...mixed up treats and life rewards ie... like releasing them to "go sniff" or "go play" after working on car releases and focusing on me while things pass us by.

I started all this on leash first..then worked my way to off leash.

It feels really good that we've practiced this (adding the reorienting cue last week "okay") and in the end, they all stick close by me until I let them know what comes next :)  That's when you know your hard work has paid off... they have learned how to balance the work with the rewards and have YOU at the top of the REWARD list. The dogs finding you most interesting even when they are off leash, where they could easily bust off into nature, not looking such a sweet feeling :)

Keegan especially loves to bust out and race I knew this was one thing we'd have to work on since last year's on start of adolescent doggie brain.  It's paid off!

Sometimes I'll even throw treats in the car then close the door and then release one...out of 4.... to "find it' search for treats..I must say that it promotes really really nice stays waiting their turn to go into the car for treats :)  The silly games I come up with....

Saturday, May 15, 2010

back on track w/people and getting there w/dogs

We're back on track w/George and people. Above is George at the dog beach in happier times...before this last year of attacks.  He LOVED racing around with other dogs.  Especially bigger ones :(

The one bark reinforcement has worked wonders! The rest of the dogs take that cue to come running to me for treats, so they ignore the other dog or people right now until I let them know what comes next so things are back on track.

Show me game has George back on track too! I'll now say "Show me" and he has to search the environment to find something to "show me", cat, person, bird..." I've lumped all those things including his triggers (people/dogs) into one category again so dogs and people aren't "special" or of any more value...they get him just as many points as looking at a bird and looking back to me :)


He's still wary of large dogs but it's been funny as yesterday twice we were walking and dogs in the distance, and one biked right by us before George remembered that he barks at them. He actually seriously forgot until they were long gone and then all of a sudden he looked around and barked once then looked at me with his lip stuck :)

Again, George having the time of his life zipping around in the sand, racing around with other dogs....not right now though :( 

Each of my guys reacts differently to the approach of another off leash dog.

Daizy, as a force not to be reckoned with, she's happy to say hello but those posturing dogs automatically lower their tails when greeting her.

Keegan can been just as excited to meet another dog and race to them (which he'll put on the brakes before too close) or let them race to him and will quickly change his approach if he sees he's meeting an older dog and switches to a respectful distance greeting.

Taiki the pug is a neutral happy go lucky guy who is not at all threatening nor does he display any posturing. He can sense if a dog is a bully and will stick close to your heels.

George is the one that every dog seems to want to get close up and personal with and I have no idea why he's such a magnet. All dogs can see George's red flag waiving to PLEASE....back off...after a quick sniff...EXCEPT... those who have stiff, posturing, or are adolescent and full of themselves! They just ignore his polite signals that they're being pushy and he's not interested. So he'll bark in their face.

My main worry with that is in the past it's proven to provoke an attack from the bully who I have no idea what sort of bite inhibition they have.

Last year was horrible. He ended up with puncture wounds one encounter (not a scratch on the other dog) and then having back trauma is what the vet said. $$$ later and me worried to death with George shaking in so much pain and on strict rest and injections and pain killers!

And a few mountings by large dogs, a few rushes where they didn't hit the brakes hard enough and barreled over George...or sent him doing somersaults. It's really no wonder that he's pretty much done with pushy dogs. He's a fearful dog to begin with so that didn't help one bit. All the work we've done over the years was erased by a stream of unfortunate encounters.

Hopefully we've come up with a better escape route with the practice from our last "Train and Play" class.

We're still a work in progress but have made a ton of progress this week!

Dogsmart classes, Feisty Fido and Control Unleashed are my favourite references.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Love getting a quick fix of agility!

Backyard agility rocks! Yay my tunnel made it to the backyard! I can't tell you how much fun it is to just race around in little bits. Low distraction environments definitely help my crazy gang of rebels.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Door work!

Cynthia, hope it was okay to mention you and your furry crew in the video (let me know if not and I'll edit it out) was your door work that reminded me we've got work to do and then I loved Leslie McDevitt's video clip promoting her we got working on it this morning!

then some fun!!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

If you can't beat 'm join 'm

I have begun rewarding George for baying...once...

My evil plan is to use a counterconditioning protocol (Dr. Pamela Reid- Excelerated learning) to change his motivation behind the machine gun barking when he feels the need to be bark once.

In a seminar that Leslie attended of Dr. Reid's, she mentioned that she used this technique to countercondition a lip snarl with her resource guarder...and in turn, because the dog was reinforced for the lip changed the emotion behind the snarl...That's it! I taught Daizy to bark on cue when she was a puppy, but never George for whatever reason....

He's done it naturally for in other situations; bark once if he needs to go out, sit/down bark once to "show me" a toy or something he can't get at, so I know he can use it to communicate without the anxiety that comes with the machine gun bark. There's too much anxiety behind it, I prefer the one bark better...he is less stressed once he gets it out of his system.

So far so good! Tonight we tried it out (chips as a reward) and it was very well received..mind you he had a look on his face with his lip stuck...almost as if to say.."you want me to ....bark?"

I parked the car close to a low traffic store...then sat in the car to wait for the bait....then....person in this case.

1-bark, then "yes" in an impressed voice but not over the top excited as I want him to remain calm.
2-then chipsss, a handful of them actually....until he stopped barking and continued to enjoy his chips (crunchy and takes time to LOVES CHIPS!)..
3-then I said "thank you" for the quiet and him looking at me...

*important they CHOOSE to focus back on you so you can give calm biofeedback...and praise and cuddles of course.
** If they don't then you need to work further away from the trigger.

Then I got out of the car but rolled the window down a bit and waited again for 'bait".....then repeated the same thing above........then we left.

1-bark, then "yes"
2-then chip.sss....until he stopped barking and continued to enjoy his chips (crunchy and takes a long time to LOVES CHIPS!)..
3-then I said "thank you" for the quiet and eye contact, gave him the sleepy eyes, calm biofeedback and we left!

I was only there for about 5 min tops...just a couple times, one in the car next to him, one outside the car. I always start off in very short increments first off to build value for the game...then they look forward to playing it again!

1-building value (one bark = rewards! treats, toys, fun, snuggles, whatever goofy things your dog LOVES BEST)
2-transferring value (raise bark + then quiet for a couple seconds 'thank you" before the you've now transferred the value of the one bark to being quiet.....)
3-balance for the bahaviour rather than the reward.....(one bark + quiet "thank you" = calm happy state, mix in rewards on occasion to keep life interesting)

I was reminded of that from Control Unleashed book. She just put out another dvd and it's on it way to ME :)...I like the first clip to reorient to owner when going out of the door.

My plan is to get back to the one alert bark rather than this machine gun bark.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Video'n benefits & my embarrassing relationship with it

 If any of you cyber people met me in person, you'd definitely not see me as the video'n type...and it's so true....BUT  it does totally help you tweak your handling skills.

 My session at the Chief with George, is a great example...I was able to see which technique he would be most receptive of and successful at the time...

In reviewing...I was able to put together this little clip that highlights the games and techniques we used and when they worked the best even TTouch!

 All that gooey stuff I said, using TTouch and playing ball and using treats, tricks, "show me" game... kept his body language a lot more fluid than when I said very little and just waited for him to offer something relaxed.

This doesn't mean that I will be a PEZ dispense and won't raise criteria for him!   I've got to ensure he's learning rather than using treats/ play/ ttouch as a crutch to avoid the off leash dog situation...I always raise criteria ...just at a pace where the dog is still relaxed.  It's less jolting on their systems.

So for now, I'll put a warning at the beginning of the video to turn down the volume unless you want to OD on sugar  ;P   Boy was that ever embarrassing but it worked and all that lov'n came from the heart so that's all that matters to me. Hopefully we'll be far enough along in our work so George will be ready for an Out and About class...if not...maybe Alice will have a reactive Out and About class running that we can join ;)

I also learned a long time ago (8yrs of Dogsmart classes...bound to have some retention of what I learned) that when a dog does "react" it's important to rest them for the day after wards, so their bodies can recover from the surge of chemicals (adrenaline, et takes me a while to calm down when I'm hyped up!) that sent them over the top.  We just hung out the rest of the day, and then played some agility games in the yard that night and ended on passive attention stuff before bed.