Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Touch, Rehab visits, and the chiropractor

So far I have failed miserably with Ike and Touch. Oye! As Esther recommended, I tried whip cream on his target plate. He was fairly confident licking it off, so I put my hand under the plate with whip cream. Guess what Mister Ike did? He up and left the room and hid in his crate. No joke. I don't quite understand his thinking....

I talked about it last night with Denise before our Shelter classes. She has a small dog that she had a lot of difficulty teaching Touch to and she recommended trying peanut butter. I might try a whole new tack with the peanut butter. I don't want to ruin what I have going on with his target plate since he really enjoys that and thinks it is a fun game. So perhaps I will start on my hand with the peanut butter and see what kind of response I can get from him. He is very food motivated - he just gets weirded out by some things. It makes me laugh to think about all the people that think of dogs as the same and brave/fool-hardy. Mister Ike is not!

Ike and I have been visiting a Rehab/nursing home in Canton for nearly three months now. We are finally getting into a groove where I know the people who most enjoy seeing him. The past couple of times I have left the rehab feeling as though we are really bringing some light to people's lives.

Visiting the rehab is the one thing I do with Ike that I end up feeling a bit like a stage mom. I totally recognize that I get more out of it than him. However, considering what a weirdo he is about people I think it is excellent continued socialization.

I hope to the good gods that when I am old or ill someone visits the rehab I am in with their dog!

Ike had his third visit with Dr. Ann Crawshaw on Wednesday. Ann is a chiropractor for people, horses, and dogs! Wow.

Since Ike is so pokey, and a little bit stiff on one side, Katrin recommended that I take him to the chiropractor. I will freely admit to being a bit skeptical at first.

On our initial visit Ann inspected Ike and detected a knotted muscle in the left pelvic area caused by the left side of his pelvis being tipped the wrong direction and a jammed neck! Our first two visits were to work on these problems. This last visit Ann did Ike's first full body session. We have two more sessions to go and I am VERY curious to see how it pans out. Dr. Crawshaw is a very nice person. I can only hope this adds some speed to my boy!

I will try and write in more depth about our chiropractor visits on Wednesday after his next appointment. In some ways, the procedure might sound voodoo-like, however if I get the results I am looking for I could care less about the presentation.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

PRMSC meeting with Anna Ericsson

Last night was the monthly meeting of the Paul Revere Miniature Schnauzer Club. Elizabeth Kenney, who is the breeder I got Ike from, is the current president. I have been going to these meetings off-and-on for the past 4 years. Since I have decided my next dog is also going to be a Schnauzer I have been trying to be more involved and have made it to nearly every meeting this year. I will even be volunteering at the PRMSC Specialty show on June 1st.

I was really excited to hear Anna Ericsson speak since we have been e-mailing a bit; both Elizabeth and Katrin Andberg referred me to her as an excellent source for a performance dog/schnauzer breeder referral. Her dog Harry (CH MACH Sterling' Out Of Control NGC, NAC, OJC) was just named the AKC Top Terrier for 2007 in agility. He also just received his MACH title and is a champion in the breed ring. Anna is planning on breeding him to a Sterling' dog at the end of this year and possibly to her new puppy BB (a Bravo dog) in a year. The Harry-BB match would be a dream for me in terms of timing and the quality of the parents.

It was great to hear her talk about her first dog Selma who just doesn't have the drive Harry does. I suspect (hope!) that this will be much the way I think/talk about Ike and agility if I find the right puppy. Ike enjoys agility, but he would just as soon be snuggling at home! I do think he is going to enjoy obedience though! Really!

Ike has yet to be registered with the AKC. The litter papers were destroyed during a flood at Elizabeth's house. She has requested duplicate papers and they should be arriving by June. I am excited to register Ike with his formal name, Silvermist Icebreaker.

The annual PRMSC cookout is scheduled for June 10th and then the Club will take the summer off. I will be looking forward to the fall - I enjoy getting together with other schnauzer lovers!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Competition Obedience, Class # 1

On Monday I started a new class at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin, Competition Obedience: Novice with Esther Zimmerman. I am super excited about this class for a couple of reasons.

  1. I have heard great things about Esther from another Silvermist Schnauzer owner (Peg Walcott, owner of Otto and Willie) and from Katrin Andberg of Maplewood Animal Care & Training (my agility instructor).

  2. I think this will be really fun for both me and Ike! Seriously.

When I was dealing with Ike's fear reactivity I kept a really sloppy journal - more or less tracking good and bad days so I could see if we made any progress. After Monday's class I feel like it would benefit me to keep a training journal in some format, and since I enjoy Cat's blog so much I though I would copy her idea and create my own blog.

I think this class is going to require a lot of work from both me and Ike, and that's okay. I think I am going to come away with some improved training skills. Yippee! First class and I already have 3 new (to me) fun games that can be played with dogs or puppies and a new way to try and teach Ike to touch with his nose, not just his feet. Sigh....Touch. Currently the bane of Ike's existence!

So, my new class is a mix of two new to comp. obedience people (me and a girl with an Aus. Kelpie)and 4 people who are experienced obedience people but working with new-to-them dogs (Dalmatian, 4.5 mo Husky, Keeshond, and a Portuguese Water Dog).

The first exercises we did centered around name recognition (and I can not wait to talk to Denise and maybe use these at the shelter).

Exercise # 1: Drop a cookie, as the dog grabs it say his name. When he makes eye contact hand him a cookie and drop another. Repeat. Don't drop the cookie in the same spot; vary it. Very fun, but we are hindered by Ike's slow eating ( I am hoping the chiropractor will help this too!).

Exercise # 2: Dog is off leash, show him a cookie and toss it to the right of you. Dog scampers to grab cookie - when he has it in his mouth say his name. When he makes eye contact toss a cookie to your left. Dog races to get cookie, when he gets it say his name and toss a cookie to the right. You could feed your dog his dinner in the manner! Esther had a couple of good points. One is that this game can't be played that well in the grass. Two is that you need to make sure the color of your treat is different than the ground you are dropping it on. I think you could play this game well with a ball for a ball-motivated dog.

Then we moved on to Touch. Argh. Ike and I have tried so hard and have yet to master Touch. Ike is incredibly reticent to touch with his nose (and in general). For goodness sake, I just finally taught him to jump up on me!

So Esther had some useful recommendations. One of which, is just the way she teaches Touch versus the way I have taught it and tried to teach it with Ike.

Esther recommends starting the entire process by placing your hand about an inch away from/on the side of the dog's nose. Hmmm...I have always held my hand out in front. Having your hand that close and to the side makes it more likely that the dog will accidentally Touch your hand (and be reinforced). Alas, no go with Mister Ike.

I explained to her that Ike will go touch a plate, but still not with his nose. He does a play bow to it! She recommended purchasing some squirt cheese and whip cream. Placing a wee bit on the plate so that he has to lick it off. Next place the plate on top of my hand - same thing. Have him lick it off. Slowly make the plate smaller and smaller until he is licking it off my hand. Esther didn't explain how I will eventually transfer this to you all will have to wait with me! I can see where he begins to get more comfortable having physical contact with me he might then poke me if I didn't have his treat ready? We will see.

The other thing I will have to do is be more innovative with my treats. I only brought Natural Balance Turkey roll. Ike loves it and he only gets Charlie Bears at home so it is a real treat for him, but Esther feels like I should have some more exciting treats. We used SOOO many treats in class; I couldn't believe it. Ike is going to gain 10 pounds! I have gotten used to agility where I really don't use many treats. So next class I will be prepared with variety!