Monday, March 31, 2008

Pouring rain = empty dog park!


It is pouring today, but not too cold. I took a calculated risk. I figured the Sharon Dog Park might be empty, and it was!

The boys and I had the park all to ourselves. We played for about 40 minutes and then took the "long" way through the woods to the parking lot. Ike definitely enjoyed himself and was VERY into this fire hose/bumper-like toy that was there. He was getting all footie about it and running after the toy with Monty.

I received my first Corgi head butt. I was bending down to get the toy and Monty jumped up. His skull connected with my cheekbone. I am hoping it won't bruise. My eyes watered (!) and the little bugger didn't even notice we bumped noggins. Those Corgis are hard-headed!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Upcoming Trials

Unlike some uber-organized individuals that we know (heh-hmmm Cat ;O), I only know what I will be doing for the next two months. After that it all depends on if I remember to send it the premium or not. I am looking forward to the outdoor season - Ike prefers trialing outside to indoor trials. I think the preference has to do with noise and proximity of humans (inside is typically louder and there are odd reverberations, etc.). At outdoor trials noise dissipates much more quickly and you can avoid humans much more easily! Very important factors for an Ike.

I have limited my agility events to two weekends a month and one day. Why? I love agility and Ike - Ike loves me, likes agility, and gets stressed out easily. Two events, one day/month is a pretty happy medium. I still get to do lots of agility but I do not burn my dog out. If a seminar comes up that I want to attend, the seminar takes the place of an agility event. I am an expert at over scheduling, so over the years I have finally figured out how NOT to burn myself. I give myself "rules"!

April 08
  • Act-Up Agility Club NADAC Trial, April 19th, Wretham Developmental Center, MA
  • Bo-Gee Agility CPE Trial, April 26th, Derry, NH

May 08

  • Act-Up Agility Club CPE trial, May 10th and 11th, Canine Mastery, Seekonk, MA
    I am breaking my two-day rule here because CPE is my priority, it is my club, and it is so close!
  • CSSC/LRCGB (AKC), May 18th, Wrentham Developmental Center, MA
    Our first AKC trial.....eeek!
  • PRMSC Specialty, May 30th, Masterpeace, Franklin, MA
    I acted as a hostess for the club last year and agreed to do so again this year. Usually there are Schnauzer puppies to fawn over!

June 08

  • Happy Tails CPE Trial, June 7th, Portland, ME
    Opening postmark 4/9

Tentatively I am thinking I will avoid All Dog Gym during the summer. I am not crazy about the set-up for Ike. The noise is tough on him, and the proximity of people and dogs in both the crating area and the actual performance area. On the one hand it will be indoors and Ike barely tolerates the heat. On the other hand he really isn't crazy about the atmosphere. So, I *think* I am not going to schedule any trials there this summer. We'll see.

I bought Ike a K9 Cool Coat and a cooling mat that was on clearance ($5!) at Clean Run. Not the Cool Bed III - after all, Whole Dog Journal says latex is bad! - but the kind that has crystals in it. Katrin said they weigh a ton. I guess that is why it was only $5. I hope these will help Ike tolerate the heat a wee bit better this summer. Cross your fingers and paws.

Depending on how the CSSC trial goes we *might* do more AKC events.

I am very excited about the Act-Up NADAC trial in April. Some Performance Schnauzer people, Cat, and potentially my friend Marlene with her GR Kody, will be at the Scottie AKC trial at the same location! It should be a very busy fun day.

If I get more organized, I will post more!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Ike, Nellie, and Monty

A good time was had by all. Naps are now the order of the day!

The Houseguest

We have a houseguest, and his name is Monty!

Monty is staying with me while Katrin is on vacation in Washington state. Monty is one of the dogs that Ike really likes, so even though Mont is very interesting in my g-pigs and birds, I am excited. After all, he isn't as interested in the small animals as Jazz was!

So far, so good....I did a quick Monty-proofing yesterday before Katrin arrived and asked her if a few questionable things were safe (plastic bin on the bottom of my bakers rack with tracheae? Uh, bad idea.).

I plan on taking the boys up to visit Nellie today. I think Nellie and Monty will get on like a house on fire. Ike will, of course, be horrified! He might surprise me though.... I will post pictures later.

Friday, March 28, 2008

ABC # 12

Adios, ABC Foundations class. Carmie and I had a blast. Carmen gets agility in a fundamental way; agility suits her personality.

This week we worked on:
  • A jump chute that included the tire and had the jumps placed at 10’, 15’, and 20’ (versus all evenly spaced at 20’ apart).

  • The A-frame and Carmen had none of last week’s hesitation. Yay!

  • The teeter. When we were working on the teeter we almost had a flying onion! Carmen was really motoring the first time up and I literally had to catch her from flying off. After that she gave me some VERY nice waits. I should have expected the near fly-off. She had been eyeing the teeter all night and I know she was itching to get on it. Isn’t that hysterical? But it’s true!

  • The weave poles. We introduced the weave poles. Katrin teaches weaves using the cage method. Essentially you break up a x-pen in sections of two and use the sections to create the correct path through the weaves. This method allows the dog to weave correctly from the beginning. Then you begin removing portions systematically over time.

I found the cage method to be a very successful with Ike and look forward to seeing Carmen master the weaves in our next class with Katrin. With Ike I had to retrain him using the channel method after he understood the concept of weaving to build speed. He was literally as SLOW AS MOLASSES doing weaves. I used to joke (not that long ago) it was like watching a semi-truck negotiate a windy road down a mountain – that slow and deliberate! I had practiced at home a few months ago with Carmen and she was VERY freaked out by the cages. She was much better last night. It is amazing what 2 months of exposure to a new environment, dogs, and agility equipment will produce.

Carmen’s reactivity in class has steadily decreased and I am VERY proud of her. I think everyone had a great class last night. It is awesome to see the progress everyone made on this 12 week session. We had a special visitor last night, Sandy and Baxter Black (one of Ike’s favorite dogs!). Even though (like it’s a bad thing! ;-P) Baxter is an exuberant Lab, sometimes a serious negative in Carmen and Ike’s opinion, both of them like him. Yay!

After vacation Carmen and I will start six weeks of weaves. I can't wait.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


This morning I took Ike on an illegal walk. There is a nice field near my in-laws that dogs are not allowed in/on. You cross a creek with a little wooden bridge and after a 50 foot walk through some (legal for dogs) woods, you are at a big (illegal for dogs) field. There are very explicit signs up about no dogs being allowed as you near this field, from both the woods direction and the street. The signs actually say, “No curbing of dogs.” I assume this is because the field is for children and there are some owners that do not pick up after their dogs and let them run off-leash in said field. Ike and I visit the field at about 6:30am or 9pm, never in between and always on leash, so I typically disregard the signs. I know, I know - very, very bad human.

As the weather warms up the Canadian Geese take over the field. Ike usually ignores them. This morning he was fascinated by them. There were only about 5 and he couldn’t stop staring at them. So I dropped my leash and said “Go get ‘em.” Ike looked at me, looked back at the geese, and looked at me again. I took a step and swung my arm, “Go get ‘em!” Ike looked at me again, I said “Go on!” and he did! Too cute.

The geese only moved about twenty feet but Ike looked so beautiful in the early morning sun chasing after them, then he did a very joyful and fast recall. Hooray! Ike is about the size of half a goose so thankfully they didn’t go after him. That would have been traumatic for every animal involved!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ike is B-a-a-a-c-c-k, somewhat....

Agility went well last night. For the first time since Ike was ill he showed some spunk and “I wanna play” attitude.

It was a pretty fast course - jumps with tunnels and weaves not necessary designed for a moody schnauzer.

Our first run went well. We went back to handle a portion where I did a nasty front cross (FC) on the landing side of a jump versus the way I had walked it (doing a FC before the jump) and Ike started acting pokey again. Katrin had me finish up on a high note and suggested I put Ike in the car – maybe the time between runs is what is over stimulating him.

Great idea. After all, at trials I take him out of his crate right before he runs or just in time to give him a bathroom break and then run.

W-H-A-T-? Why aren’t you doing that at class? Katrin asked.

Huh, because it is practice. Bad answer!!

I know you are supposed to practice like you trial and trial like you practice. I never realized Ike might find class just as over stimulating as a trial atmosphere. I am such a dork!

It took me one and half trials to realize that the longer Ike is out before a run the more pokey and worried he is. How many years has it taken me to figure out it might affect his practice performance? I am not even going to say!

For the rest of the night I crated Ike in the car between runs – kept the runs short and sweet and tried to highly reinforce him. A couple of Katrin’s friends showed up during the last twenty minutes of class and I was very pleased that Ike wasn’t worried about them. This is especially impressive considering one was male and wearing a hat. Last time Ike encountered this gentleman (at a trial last summer) he barked his fool head off!

Perspective is an interesting thing. Sometimes we are too close to a situation to realize what we need to do and sometimes, like our dogs, we don’t generalize well. It never crossed my mind that the time between runs at class might over stimulate Ike, even though I would never in a million years put him in that situation at a trial.

Ike has a few weeks off until our classes start up again and I plan to utilize it with lots of hiking to work on that rear end. I am also hoping it will get his endorphins going and lift some of the worried/depressed mood/air he seemed to be stuck in.

Monday, March 24, 2008

New development

There is a house on the corner of Washington Street (main road in Canton) and High Street (the street my street is off) that has an electric fence and a Wheaten Terrier. The dog is now about two and has gone from totally freaked out to aggressively running her boundary. It is SO, SO sad. Note that the owners are NEVER out in the yard with her and she is out for hours upon hours. I know there is 15 % of the population that uses electric fences intelligently, but then there are people like this that ruin (traumatize, whatever you would like to call it) their dog.

I didn't bring electric fences up to go on-and-on - I brought it up because Ike now will not go past the house if the WT Lily is out. Can't say I blame him. Apparently John was walking him this weekend and Lily came tearing out from a hidden spot and rushed the boundary. Ike was pretty freaked out. This afternoon I tried to walk Ike down that way and he spotted Lily and wouldn't budge.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Ike says, "This is the Easter Bunny?"

Evil-Joey says, "I must kill it!"

"My job here is done."

Carmie had a bath!

Carmie says, "That Julie....she never takes into account my oh-so-soft fur. It really holds water. How can I get dryer? The couches! Of course. "

"uh-oh, did something interesting just happen?"

"Guess not."

I figured out why I couldn't download pictures from my camera. Apparently Zoombrowser and printer can disagree. I unhooked the printer USB and voila! Camera starts to download. Yay!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Ike & Nellie Pictures

So, the raccoon tail was a bust but Nellie LOVED the monkey. Fortunately I brought an extra and left it for her! My mum has a very nice backyard for tearing around in....

Warning ~VENT~

My mother has a Cocker Spanial-Poodle mix (I hate to say cockpoo) that she adopted a few years ago. For the entire back-story, see this old post.

Nellie was under-socialized and it has been a very difficult and on-going battle to make her comfortable in her own skin. She is never going to be what John Q Public thinks is a normal dog.

My mother has been friendly with a fellow for the past year and recently they cut ties. Once before he told her he thought she should put Nellie up for adoption and get a "normal" dog. The straw the broke the proverbial camel's back occurred recently. He told her he wished she didn't have a "demented dog."

I hate this man (okay, not really but he does SUCK). This man is part of the problem. He is one of those people that thinks it is okay to get rid of a dog because they are not perfect. This is one of the reasons the U.S. has such a huge problem with shelter animals, ect.

I am really angry and had to share. We are heading up to visit Ms. Nellie today and introduce her to the wonders of a raccoon tail attached to a lunge whip. I will post pictures later!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

ABC #11 - A-frame!

Ms. Carmelized Onion continues to rock my ABC world. She is so much fun!!

Last night in class we started with a pinwheel (3 jumps at 90 degree angles) tunnel series. At one point due to my inability to give Carmie adequate directions/information she took off and did the teeter. Well, okay now!! As Katrin said, Ike would NEVER have done that. This pinwheel/tunnel was the first mini sequence we did last night and Carmen and I weren’t quite tuned into each other, so it was a bit choppy. I am so used to Ike that I don’t move fast enough/give info quick enough for Carmen. The way I disseminate information and the speed at which I do it is something I need to work on – it will end up benefiting Ike (and future dogs) as well.

Next obstacle on the schedule was a teeter tunnel combination. During Carmen’s “wait” on the teeter I treated her closer to her chest/under her chin which helped force her to rock back more. Yay! Last week I was accidentally treating her too far forward. Ah, mechanics….

Carmen is such a fast little bugger! Katrin asked me to have Carmen wait on the teeter while I moved ahead into a bit of a lead-out and then released her for the tunnel. As I said last week, Carmen is forcing me to work on waits and lead-outs! Not a bad thing.

Next we introduced the A-frame. A competition A-frame is MUCH larger than the Agility-for-Fun A-frame (and Carmen didn’t see much of the MSPCA’s A-frame!). Three exciting things happened while we were working on the A-frame, at least I think it was the A-frame. First, Blue and Iris (AS) took their turn (I think, maybe this was during the pinwheel?) and half of the dog/handler teams left the barn and half stayed. Carmie and I stayed in the barn and Iris ran over to check out Carmen who was standing up on my leg being treated. Carmen didn’t do ANYTHING!!!! Holy dog gods! Carmen is very insecure and often she can be pushy bordering on inappropriate, so the fact that she didn’t feel the need to react? She gets and A-plus for the night! Iris just wanted to sniff and she returned to mum, so she gets an A-plus too. I was trying to be proactive by treating Carmen with yummy Evanger’s duck, so that might have helped a bit. I think Carmen and I are making definite progress in defining what needs to be reacted to and what she can trust I will handle.

Second, Carmen actually did the A-Frame. Considering she has never seen such a big piece of equipment she handled it well. She tried to figure out how she could be treated without actually getting on it and then realized, I guess I need to get on. Good girlie! So Carmen climbed on and we had her turn around at the top of the contact, take a step down, treat, and release. We did this a few times - Carmen showed more hesitation about this piece of equipment than any other so far. The first time I tried to have Carmen complete the frame I interrupted her momentum and she got kind of “stuck” above the contact. Katrin suggested I put Carmen at the very top of the A-frame so she could see the other side/the descent Carmen said, “oh you just go down,” and down she went. Yay, Carmen.

Third, amazing thing? Katrin held Carmen while I helped Shaya and Tom (Tom isn’t so fond of Katrin) with the A-Frame. When I returned to get Carmen, Katrin told me she was very good (less whiney than other times) AND she stood up on Neil for attention! Wow. See Neil, I told you, she likes men! And Carmen was very good with Ms. Makin (Vizla)!

Numbers 1 and 3 might not have happened during the A-frame part of the class, but I can’t recall exactly when they happened, so I am saying it was during the A-frame!

Final obstacle we worked on was the dog walk. Carmen books it and she is starting to have a pretty nice wait. I put my hand in front of her face a couple of times last night and Katrin reminded me that, 1. I can use my body, and 2. I am not always going to be on top of Carmen and capable of doing that, so I might as well stop now! I can’t get over how little fear Carmen has and how reinforcing she already finds the obstacles. Makin, Neil’s and Lael’s Vizla, also finds the contacts very reinforcing!

Additionally we had two dogs (Sheltie-pup and Cat w/Tessie) in class that aren’t usually there. Sometimes the change in dynamics can make everyone act wonky. Not so last night. Yay!

I am having so much fun with Carmen and I really think Carmen is having fun too. It was a great class. Kim who has Opal (the Greyhound) brought beautiful cupcakes to celebrate. Opal and Tom (who belong to Kim & Shaya [mother-daughter]) both had a great class so the celebration was warranted!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh my dear odd dog….

Ike was “off” at class again tonight. Katrin had set up a very fun Steeplechase course similar to some runs on the Dig-It Fetch-It Herd-It blog. Ike started off like he wanted to work and it VERY quickly became a case of me BEGGING him to take jumps. Weird. He made a bee-line for his crate and Katrin said, “Let him go.” So I did.

While Callie was running I took Ike outside with his freshly washed monkey. He was willing to play a bit but did head for the car door that his crate is on. He was not shaking or in a figurative puddle like last week so I did some hand touches with him and asked him to come back in the barn. Katrin suggested I play with the stool while Callie was working to keep Ike engaged. I sat and did hand touches and I asked him to walk about the stool. Ike ADORES the stool-game. His little nub wags the entire time! He is SUCH an odd dog!

Ike was so fixated on the stool and offering behaviors around the stool – the stool was what was making him happy tonight. Katrin suggested I ask him to do a jump and then run to the stool. Yay, Ike. At first Ike was very much like, “Uh, no I don’t want to do agility tonight. Can’t you see I am melting?” Once he realized as soon as he did whatever I wanted we went back to play on the stool he started loosening up a bit. I did two jumps and then ran to the stool. Two jumps, tunnel, and run to the stool. Tunnel, A-frame, poles, run to the stool. We did a bunch of variations and Ike seemed to understand that 1. I wasn’t going to mentally torture him by doing extensive agility but I also wasn’t going to stop asking him to work; 2. If he did a piece of equipment we went to play on the stool.

Nancy arrived and I was very eager to send Ike to sniff her, but other than looking at Nancy he wasn’t interested in venturing near her. Katrin WISELY stopped me from literally walking Ike over to Nancy. [Sometimes I wonder about myself – the dog has barely bounced back from trying to mentally check-out to go hang with unicorns and I am trying to get him to go sniff Nancy!] I did c/t his looking at Nancy because in the past sometimes a look would become a bark! And considering how odd he was being I wanted to reinforce it was “cool” to look at Nancy.

Towards the end of the class, Katrin had me go into the center of the course and call Ike. The first two times as he came toward me, Katrin had me run to meet him and run to touch the stool. He was VERY hesitant – do I really have to go out there? The third time I had Ike come all the way out and do a “Front” before running to the stool. He didn’t hesitate half as long as the first two times before coming out to meet me. Hooray.

Since Ike was so intent on offering behaviors, and we were attempting to incorporate his offering behaviors into making agility fun again, Katrin suggested I put him in the car immediately after the last recall where he actually showed a bit of “Okay!” pep. By putting him in the car right away, he wouldn’t continue to offer behaviors when we weren’t “working,” and it will help add value back to agility again.

Oh my little off dog. Katrin says this is the learning curve, not a regression. I think it is so strange! I am befuddled. Ike did bounce back last night and obviously I need to think carefully about what he is currently valuing and how to reinforce what I want. Dang, always a new challenge. Of course, that IS part of the fun.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Control Unleashed Seminar, Day 2

Sunday Leslie started all the working dogs and handlers working on active attention - playing eye contact games. She then walked everyone through what she calls the four steps of the mat:
  1. Mechanics - Finding it, lying on it, staying on it (mat work is distance work) - she taught this just like we just taught it to the Clicker Basics class. Basically, use the mat as a target. Dog goes to the mat, treats happen on the mat. Slowly, and steadily raise criteria both duration and distance. Distraction comes later! ; 0
  2. Building a message - once you are on the mat - nothing else matters (open bar/closed bar) - When working on this, the handler MUST be in control of the environment - something comes up while the dog is on the mat - Open bar!! No behavior needs to be offered, no clicking is necessary. All that should matter in the dog's head is that something happened and now you're getting fed! Yay! Environmental change goes away, no more food.
  3. The environmental cue precedes the eating.
  4. Look at That - Start with a neutral object - a stuffed animal, a book, etc. Neutral! Take it out from behind your back - Look at that! Dog looks, you click for looking and reward. Again you slowly build up to more exciting objects and move into new environments. This is NOT a shaping exercise - it is a capturing exercise. You are capturing the moment your dog looks at something super exciting and essentially saying, "Yes, good look. Now I'm going to feed you!" Leslie referred to it as a "compromise leave it." You can look, but you can't touch.

All of the exercises I mentioned yesterday are in Leslie's book Control Unleashed. It is a really good resource. I have to admit that I am very happy I attended the seminar. The seminar really compliments the book well (as it should!). Having the opportunity to watch the ten working dogs begin to get "it" was really helpful.

One definite plan I would like to work on with Ike is playing the recall-release game with Nancy (Remy's mum). Nancy and Remy are in the class that follows Ike's and Nancy is often there when our class is finishing up. Ike used to do the mad terrier alert barking at Nancy, but he has been much better the past six months or so. Now Ike will go and sniff Nancy when he thinks she is not looking.

The fact that Ike is willing to go sniff Nancy is exciting. I tend to be a bad mum and get so excited that he is sniffing and being brave that I call attention to it. Then the "social pressure" ratchets up, and Ike says - BARK! Why are you looking at me/talking to me? Eeek!

I think I should "send" Ike to sniff Nancy and then recall him/treat him, and then send him to sniff her again if he is interested. I'll have to send Nancy an e-mail and see if she'd be willing.

I plan on incorporating most of what I learned this weekend in Carmen's and Ike's training. I think it will be most effective for Carmen; Ike has already learned many of these games with different names.

After last week where Ike was so overwhelmed, I think I will bring his crate into the barn from now on. At trials he will ask to go in his crate and take a nap. I also plan on leaving Ike in the car while setting up equipment so his poor little brain isn't completely over cooked.

I highly recommend Control Unleashed and if you have an opportunity to attend a seminar with Leslie McDevitt I highly recommend that too! She has a good grasp on over-stimulated dogs.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Control Unleashed Seminar, Day 1

Ike, John, and I are out in Northampton staying with friends. The man and dog stay with the friends and I go to Clean Run during the day today and tomorrow for the Control Unleashed seminar.

Leslie McDevitt started the seminar by saying that while she is REALLY big on structure she wants to start the seminar with no structure to see how all of the dogs and handlers handle it. Crating for the working dogs is set up about 20' away from a square ring in a half-circle (auditors are beyond that). Leslie had each handler walk their dog to the gate-ring with no prep or verbal cues. Walk into the enclosed area, close the gate and drop the leash. See what the dog does. Do they ask the handler for information or seek it on their own? Leslie reminded everyone that information seeking is neutral - it is not a reflection on you as the handler.

The first dog was a six-year old Golden named Snitch who really reminds me of my friend Marlene's dog Kody. He has a very similar level of intensity to Kody. Snitch went into the gate area and started zooming around, almost frantically.

Leslie asked what we all saw, he did some stress scratching and then started the zooming. Someone from the auditors commented that he "took over" inside the enclosed area. Leslie's response was awesome, she said "does he have an agenda?" :-)

Leslie referred to Snitch as a "rollercoaster dog." She said, on a rollercoaster you might be having a lot of fun, but it is also anxiety inducing and at a certain point arousal and stress intersect.

She talked about how difficult it is for a dog when they are that aroused to think clearly; then imagine if they do not have a default behavior they are comfortable with. She suggested thinking about how we'd react if someone asked us to complete an algebra problem on a roller coaster - it wouldn't be that easy!

The next dog that went into the ring was a 10 mos. old Belgian Terv who was attacked at 5 mos and now thinks most things are creepy. Leslie went off on an interesting and pertinent tangent. She said that most people, when they encounter a dog who is hesitant about people will try to entice the dog with a treat and think about it as counter-conditioning. She said if the dog has not been desensitized to people then it can not be considered counter conditioning because all you are really doing is increasing the "social pressure" on the dog. Leslie suggested sending the dog to go sniff the person but the reward is that she gets to leave the creepy person and get a treat from mum. In this way, it is okay for the dog to go explore and become more comfortable and there is no pressure to perform.

Some other points:

NO cue can be an actual cue for a default behavior.

Always compromise, what feels good to your dog? What makes then feel better? Incorporate that into your cued behavior chain.

Offered versus Default: Offered is when your dog starts frantically going through tricks trying to figure out what is right and what is going to get a response from you. Default is your dog selecting a certain behavior and being committed to it until they receive more information from you.

We had a short break and Leslie talked about what she refers to as the Whiplash game, which is the dog hears their name and turns to look at you. Click and treat the neck movement.

One of the games Leslie recommends is the Re-orient Game. For example, open your dogs crate door - they should not come out until you release them. First thing they should do is re-orient to you. In order to practice this stand to the side of the crate, release your dog and the second you see any movement to turn/arc toward you c/t. Very quickly we saw dogs who had never played this game spinning around to check in with mum. Then bring this game on the road. You are about to enter the agility ring. Let your dog move ahead of you, stop and do not move until they re-orient to you. This is a fun game and all of the dogs picked it up super quick.

The next game we went over was something Leslie referred to as the Recall-Release game. Best played with two people, but you can play it alone too. One person has treats, one person has leash and clicker. Dog is alerted to the fact that person # 1 has treats but she isn't allowed to eat them. Person # 2 calls the dog. The second the dog turns their head and checks in with person # 2 - they then send them to person # 1 for the treat. Essentially this game teaches the dog that if they pay attention and respond they get what they want. For dogs that too quickly decided they could just sit and watch the person with the treats Leslie suggested running backwards a few steps, asking them for an intermediary position and then sending them back for their reward.

While working with a 14 mos old PWD Leslie noticed that he was panting and taught us a quick game that she call Take a Breath. If your dog is over-excited and panting, ask them to sit and hold a treat near their nose and let them sniff. Typically dogs close their mouth when sniffing - using this technique causes the dog to mimic how they would breathing if they weren't over-excited.

There is more, but I wanted to get the main thoughts down for today. I will post about the whole weekend tomorrow or Monday!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

ABC Class # 10 (sniffle, only 2 more!)

Hip-Hip-Hooray for Carmen!!

Last night was week 10 of the ABC class and Carmie is really coming along. I am SOOO proud of her.

Last night we worked on a jump chute (4 jumps spaced about 20’ apart with gates running alongside so the dog is not given the option of skipping the jumps), pinwheel (3 jumps at 90 degree angles to each other) with some distance, teeter followed by a jump, and the dogwalk.

At the beginning of the class while Katrin was explaining the night’s festivities, I practiced a lot of eye contact with Carmen. Carmie can get terrier-like and stare a bit much.

First we worked on teeter followed by a jump. Carmen drives up the teeter really nicely. Katrin suggested I better start working on my wait with her because she is such a fast little bugger (YAY!!). Katrin also told me to continue running after the jump. I was stopping pretty quickly after the jump and Katrin said that is a sure fire way to start dropping bars. So far Carmen has a very nice teeter performance and if I firm up her wait I think it will evolve really well.

While Makin (Vizsla) and Opal (GreyHound) were working on the teeter Carmen and I did the jump chute. Carmen flies, and I love it! She had no issues running the jump chute with me running and some distance. Yay, Carmen!!

Then I worked on some waits with Carmen. She doesn’t have the most solid understanding of wait (and she’s fast), so I thought it would be a good idea to work on it and reinforce it in the highly exciting environment of the barn. I did some waits and sent her over a jump and some waits while I walked away. She handled them very well, especially considering other dogs were practicing the jump chute and board nearby.

Working the pinwheel with Carmen was a revelation for me. This dog, who has had 9 one-hour classes of agility, has more distance and speed than Ike ever will. I actually had the pleasure of seeing Carmen almost go OUTSIDE the pinwheel on the second jump because I was running the invisible line pretty tightly and she correctly thought I wanted her out. She made the right decision and took the jump but she was also correctly reading my body language. Eeeek! So exciting, I can barely contain myself.

Last obstacle of the night we worked on was the dog walk. Carmen flew over it really nicely. I am VERY much going to have to work on our waits or she will be blowing contacts left and right. It will also give me an opportunity to catch up with her as I anticipate she will be leaving me in the dust by the time we are ready to start trialing.

I still can’t believe she took the dogwalk so easily. It took us about a month to get Ike to take the dog walk and that was with working a plank nightly at home. Different dogs are a blast!!

I thought our classmates all had a great class too. It seems we are all starting to gel with our dogs and develop nice working relationships and that is very exciting!

Hand-touch and Chiro

Ike & Carmen saw Dr. Anne last night. Ike's pelvis held and Carmie is doing great - she only has one more appointment before she is on maintenance. I had Anne test to make sure Ike will tolerate the milk thistle and double-check that he isn't having any problems with the Bug-off Garlic or Longevity. Nope. That's great news!

We also saw our friend Marlene at Dr. Anne's! She had both her Goldens there for adjustments. I was early so we were able to visit a bit, which was a very nice surprise. : )

This morning I realized how much I am enjoying using hand touches to interrupt Ike's scanning. Ike thinks it is a great game, like he does everything else that involves brain work, cookies, and praise. He can be 5 feet ahead of me and if he looks back at me to alert me that there are people walking on the OTHER SIDE OF THE SIDEWALK, MUM! I say "Nosey" (because he is!) and he totally reorients to hand touch. I love it!

I think this is a wonderful progression for us. For people with a sight sensitive dog I would highly recommend trying to incorporate hand-touches into your "tool box". I don't think you should skip the eye contact because a dog could just bang his/her nose into your hand and go right on reacting to the stimuli. I also think eye contact is an integral part of relationship building.

In the beginning with a dog that is over-stimulated, eye contact for a second might be ALL they can offer when they see creepy people, kids, bikes, dogs, whatever sets them off/overwhelms them. Ike is at a point where eye contact is old hat - he offers it all the time. It ups the ante significantly for him to have to offer a new behavior (other than setting up or fronts).

I have also noticed that he maintains eye contact after the hand touch while he is waiting for his cookie - I swear he isn't waiting long!! : ) Knock on wood, I think the hand touch has been very successful.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gamblers and an over-stimulated Ike

Tonight's class was a Gambler's course Katrin had us play with in December. I was looking forward to this - Gamblers is fun.

Since there was a lot of equipment to set up we got to the barn a little earlier and Niche (Katrin's FCR) and Ike trotted about while we set up. Niche has been diligently trying to get Ike to play with him for MONTHS and tonight Ike finally did. Hooray. I am really happy that Ike felt comfortable enough to play with Niche. It helps that Niche is so respectful - I think it makes Ike feel much more confident.

Callie and her humans arrived and helped us finish the set-up. All three dogs played together. WOW. Yay, Ike!!

While the lead up to class was awesome, class itself did not go so well. Ike and I ran the course twice and I was very choppy and kept asking Ike to correct things! WEIRD. The choppiness I get because I am still figuring out this transition business and I wasn't 100% sure what course I intended to do. Re-doing equipment, not so much. I wouldn't do that at a trial in a Jackpot or Chances course, why am I doing it in practice?!! Argh!

Katrin ran Niche and I worked the stopwatch. After Niche and Callie's runs Ike was huddled in a corner, shaking, paw up at the exit of the barn.

For once in my life I listened to my dog and brought him outside to try and chill out. He immediately went to the side of the car where his crate is. : ( I let him get in the car and went back in to let Katrin know that Ikey P was done for the night. Bummer.

Katrin let me run Niche and while I was still loud - I think it must make me feel more confident? - I was noticeably smoother. At least I was noticeably smoother to myself! So I am very pleased about that. The one instance Niche almost went off course he made the right choice in the end. He is a sweet pea of a dog.

After class Katrin and I were talking about Ike's melt-down and we think maybe agility class on top of the ground-breaking play was too much for Ike. It sucks, I feel so helpless when he is like that. Of course, now that we are home he is fine. He was just snoozing in my lap.

I am a bit down about Ike being so visibly upset, but a lot of positive things happened tonight. Playing with Niche? Playing with Niche and Callie? ASTONISHING. And personally, while my handling with Ike was TERRIBLE - I feel like my handling with Niche improved dramatically. I guess I will call the night a slightly positive wash!

Monday, March 10, 2008

More Step-Stool and Mun-Kay Surgery!

Ike and I spent some time practicing the stool tonight. I decided to go ahead and shuffle into his space to speed the process up and it worked VERY well. He totally got it. Going to the left he is more tentative so I am hypothesizing that side of his body is weaker. The left is the side his pelvis was originally out on when I took him to the chiropractor (in early '07), and it is the side that was recently out of whack, too.

I also had to perform Monkey surgery today. Ike, who never destroys toys ripped a hole in the Mun-kay's belly!! Yay, Ike! I stitched up the wee little monkey and we had a rousing game of tug and toss. Very fun. I think I will be buying many more monkeys this weekend!

A side note: Ike also stole a bag of rolls and was trying to get into them! I love it!! This is a dog who, other than when he was a puppy, never gets into anything. I guess he feels good!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Workin' the Step-Stool, Channels, and our Table

Today I did some work with Ike to build his rear end back up. We started with some easy channel work per Katrin's recommendation. I played the space game with him between my bed and the wall. Then we moved on to shaping the step-stool.

ManyMuddyPaws recommended the step-stool as a good way to work his rear and I thought it would be fun to shape it. Ike is very foot target oriented, so initially he was spinning around batting the base of the step-stool trying to figure out what the heck I could possibly want. Within 5 minutes he had his feet up on top of it but in terms of getting him to walk around the step stool (with his front feet still on the stool) I was only able to get him to take one step at a time with his rear legs. For a 15 minute training session it went really well. He hasn't quite figured out the point of the game yet, but he is having fun trying to figure it out. His little brain was working just as hard as his rear end. I will definitely continue this game.

I take great joy in watching him try different things, trying to figure out what I want. Remember, this is a dog that was not very operant; he used to sit and stare at me waiting for me to help him!

I also painted and added sand to my table. I decided to paint it orange. Orange is what I consider Ike's color. I went to Home Depot and picked out a fun subdued orange called carotene. I should finish it up tomorrow (hopefully!).

Update on Scanning

Since Ike just recently learned the fine art of the hand touch, I have decided to transition hand touches into my walk routine. Friday was the first day that I actively attempted to redirect Ike's scanning with hand touches and it worked!

I intermittently asked for hand touches when he was scanning AND when he saw people. Hand touches require much more thought than eye contact for him, so it definitely interrupted his routine. Heh, heh...just what I wanted!

The big issue for me is that I need to continue to use the hand touch frequently in other contexts so that Ike doesn't think of it as the game we play only on walks. I also need to continue to use both hands at multiple heights, etc. Last Tuesday I asked him for some hand touches in agility class and I will continue to practice at home since ultimately I would like a more confident hand touch.

Currently Ike's hand touch is a very soft brush! Silly boy!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Flea and Tick Spray from Dr. Anne


3-drops Ceruto
4-drops Gentian
5-drops of Olive

Mix with 1 c spring water

This month's Clean Run

I love the magazine Clean Run. When I first started getting this magazine it blew my brain on a monthly basis. I just didn't have the knowledge to make sense of most of the articles. Now I thoroughly enjoy.

Recently they have had a series of articles by author Jane Killion who wrote When Pigs Fly, Training Success with Impossible Dogs. Having the dog I do, this is a book I received for Christmas! Not that Ike is impossible but he definately has more of a terrier perspective than I ever realized. He wants to know why he should be doing everything! I think there are many people out there who have what a lay-person might incorrectly refer to as a stubborn dog, who would really enjoy both this book and series of articles.

Back to the point of my post. This month's issue had a couple of excellent articles in it, but what got me most was the editor's note. It was written by a woman named Amy Hanridge, who has a degree in cultural anthropology. She wrote about Dog People and Parent People. She summed up beautifully "our" tribe.

March 2008, Vol. 14, No. 3, Page 5

....First I would like to teach you about the Dog People
tribe. They are some of the most committed people I know. And no, most of them should not be committed (to an institution somewhere).

They love there dogs, not because they are weird or inadequately
attached to humans, but because they understand the deep joy that can come from closely understanding these amazing creatures: dogs.

Don't demean the Dog People. Don't mock them. You misunderstand
them. Especially the Dog People who compete in dog agility. They are fervent in their love and interest for the sport, again, not because they are weird or poorly socialized but because it is a real sport. Agility is a sport that engages the mind and body fully and totally in those few minutes while a dog and handler run a course. And, teaching a member of another species to dance with you, to bob and to weave and to make the decision whether to jump or to scramble in hundreths of a second....well, it really is a rush....

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, because my co-workers and non-dog friends don't quite grasp that training for me is more of a way of life than a hobby. It colors everything I do. I mean, I am at a point where I think of humans in behavioral terms first. I know, not necessarily a good thing! When I read Neil and Lael's post on the Thursday night class it reminded me that I wanted to share with anyone who visits my blog this excerpt from the Clean Run editor's note. It sums we dog people up so well!

Friday, March 7, 2008


Last night I taught the Thursday night ABC class. Katrin had been felled with a major migraine. I brought Carmen anyway thinking she could work on being comfortable in the crate. I didn't feed her and brought a kong for her.

Well, she SCREAMED the entire time. I jinxed myself with my previous post!! : (

The upside is, I remember about a year and a half ago when I first started bringing Ike crated to club meeting and stuff like that - he yelled a lot too. Not quite as consistently as Ms. Carmen, but he did yell. Now Ike is great crated at club meetings, seminars, and trial sites.

The lesson? Don't despair if at first your dog HATES being crated in public. They can get used to it!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Glimpses of a new Ike (and Carmen, too!)

Lately I have been seeing a new side of Ike, and I am really chuffed about it!

Sign One
His visible dislike of Joey. I know this is not typically something to get excited about, but Ike’s typical response to things he does not like is to leave. Recently he has told Joey off a couple of times. Very interesting.

Sign Two
I recently drove past Ike and John on a walk. When John got to our street he released Ike knowing I had seen them and would be in the driveway. Ike booked it to the driveway (about 100’ – 120’). I stood out in the street to welcome him and I have never seen Ike move so fast. There were no leaps and galloping, this was a beautiful flat-out run. Hmmm…

Sign Three
He tugs at home!! He tugs in a public venue with other people nearby. HOORAY!!!! HOORAY!!!! HOORAY!!!!

I am also starting to see a more confident Carmen.

Ms. Carmen doesn’t have a lot of experience out in the big bad world and is a furry squeaker. (She whines when nervous.) I have noticed a MAJOR decrease at class. Yesterday at the chiropractor, while she was still being squeaky, there was no shaking. And once we got into the examination room, while Ike was on the table, Carmen was standing up - paws on the table, peering at Anne, myself and Ike. HOW BRAVE!!! She also wasn’t nearly as squeaky on the ride to the chiro! Yay, Carmen.

The current Carmen kibble

Lamb Meal & Oatmeal MedleyPrairie Kibble Diet for Dogs

Healthy, Natural IngredientsLamb Meal, Oatmeal, Brown Rice, Barley, Canola Oil (preserved with Mixed Tocopherols and Citric Acid), Menhaden Fish Meal, D-calcium Phosphate, Ground Flaxseeds, Montmorillonite Clay, Natural Lamb Flavor, Alfalfa Meal, Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Vitamin E Supplement, Ascorbic Acid, Biotin, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Acetate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Beta Carotene, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Sea Salt, Minerals (Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, Sodium Selenite), Lamb Liver, Inulin, Flaxseed Oil, Dried Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product, Dried Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product, Apples, Carrots, Peas, Freeze Dried Lamb, Freeze Dried Lamb Hearts, Freeze Dried Lamb Liver, Pumpkinseeds, Ground Lamb Bone, Butternut Squash, Broccoli, Lettuce, Spinach, Dried Kelp, Salmon Oil, Apple Cider Vinegar, Parsley, Honey, Blueberries, Alfalfa Sprouts, Persimmons, Olive Oil, Duck Eggs, Pheasant Eggs, Quail Eggs, Sage, Clove, Rosemary Extract.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Visit with Dr. Anne

Ike and Carmen saw Dr. Anne tonight. I laid all of my concerns at her feet and amazingly she answered them!

Ike's left side of his pelvis was indeed out of alignment. The left side of the body is tied to intestinal health. Given Ike's recent illness and the vomiting that accompanied it, Anne said she wasn't surprised to find his pelvis out. She treated that, and I mentioned how his liver levels were a bit off. She tested his liver (using kinesiology) and it was fine. She tested his kidneys because she said that oftentimes test results will show an elevation in certain liver levels when the problem lies in the kidneys. She recommended a homeopathic renal support supplement.

Next question, I noticed that Ike got super skinny after he was sick, even when he went back to eating. I hypothesized that it might be because he needs grain in his diet (I feed him raw meat supplemented with cooked green vegetables - no grains). The bland diet was rice, cooked squash and boiled meat (turkey, chicken, and beef). Robin (front desk/assistant) and Anne thought it was more likely it might be because he is allergic to one of the meats I feed and suggested testing that. The theory is, if a dog is allergic to a meat they aren't able to process it well, sometimes leading to weight gain.

Well, wouldn't you know it, Ike is allergic to venison and lamb. As a rule I try not to feed Ike lamb because of the fat content but I just discovered that the Nature's Variety Venison has a boatload of lamb in it! Drat! (I was kind of annoyed by that, but it was my bad for not being a better label reader.) Also, one of my favorite stinky treats is the Real Meat Fish and Venison! So, I have some frozen raw that Mister-Monty might be gifted with.

I mentioned that Dr. Kirk had recommended milk thistle for Ike's liver and Anne was VERY impressed (hmmm). She asked me to bring in the milk thistle I bought at SmartPak next week to see if Ike will tolerate it.

So, I feel like Ike got an awful lot out of his visit. Due to the slipped pelvis issue he will be seeing Anne for the next 3 - 4 weeks! Oye!

Carmen on the other hand is doing fabulously. Her alignments have held and she only has two more appointments scheduled. I asked Anne to test her to see if she is allergic to chicken because I noticed her coat wasn't that nice when I was feeding the Nature's Variety Chicken Meal (as a result I switched her to the lamb meal, and it is much better but still....). Carmen is allergic to chicken, and since all of Nature's Variety's product have chicken in them I will be looking into a new kibble. [Editor's Note: This is a FASLE statement! Eeek. This is not true for the kibble. Yay!] I have some thoughts on this and will probably to a whole post on it! I wish I could get the in-laws to switch her to raw, but they refuse. : (

When I called John to tell how the appointments went he commented on what a gift Katrin has. It's true, Katrin saw Ike last night and knew he was off. She has a knack (skill, whatever, maybe not a capital G-gift ;-P) for being able to see how canine structure is supposed to be moving. I am very lucky that I already had an appointment scheduled!

Pokey Ike Plays in Public!!

Last night’s agility class went well. The course was very similar to last Tuesday’s except for a couple of important pieces. Instead of weaves we had the teeter, instead of a serpentine we had two 180s, and the final off course option was the tunnel versus the table.

Ike didn’t like the 180s nearly as much as the serpentine last week. Well, I am sure Ike didn’t really care but my handling of the 180s slowed down an already very pokey Ike. He was in rare SLOW form last night.

Katrin sat on the bench instead of the steps last night and noticed that he wasn’t using his hind end as much as usual and that he has lost muscle tone in his rear. No telling how long that has been going on, or if it is related to him being ill (the muscle tone aspect). Fortunately we have an appointment scheduled with Dr. Anne (our doggie-chiropractor) for this evening and we can at least make sure his pelvis is holding (aligned correctly). Other than that? I plan on working on backing up with him, making him dance like a circus dog, and adding some steep hills into our walking and hiking.

The issue with the 180s is that I kept wanting to treat them like a serpentine and handle them all from one side. In general I didn’t need to do that and since Ike was being so incredibly pokey I should have been thinking outside the box about how to motivate him. Thinking outside the box is something I MUST do more of with Ike. It is hard for me because I am still learning and don’t have a ton of experience with a “typical” agility dog as a reference point. I only have Ike! So, Katrin reminded me that we need to be willing to try new ways of handling problems when it comes to Sir Ike.

The highlight of class was that Ike was excited and happy to tug on his raccoon tail RIGHT NEXT TO KATRIN!! And while Callie was running. This is awesome! I was sure to stop play as soon as I thought his interest might be waning or his comfort level in danger of plummeting.

He even tugged while Matt (Callie’s dad) was within 5 feet of him.

I never thought I would get be able to get Ike to tug at home let-alone in a public venue.

I have gotten a lot out of the last couple of classes. I feel like Ike and I had reached a bit of a learning plateau prior to his stomach bug and I feel like we are moving again. Yay! I thought very hard about my transitions last night and I think I was a bit smoother for it; although I am sure you could see the wheels turning in my brain! Ike was having odd table issues – he didn’t want to do ANYTHING on the table. I will have to finish my table this weekend so we can work on this. The table performance suddenly has more implications for me since Cat “convinced” me to enter an AKC trial (GASP!). Ike and I are entering the All Breed Agility LRCGB/CSSC trial in May at the Wrentham Development Center. No FAST for Sir Ike, that’s for sure!!

Callie and her humans had an excellent class last night. I am excited for them – I think it was the kind of class where things start to make sense for canine and humans! It’s a pleasure to see that kind of development! Callie is one of the sweetest dogs – I think Ike would be happy to have a puppy in the house if it was a clone of Callie.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Scanaholics Anonymous?

I have noticed in the past few months that Ike is more excited/diligent about looking for people on our morning walks than he is about going to the bathroom.


Since Ike thinks people are, “Oh so creepy,” I play an old school version of Leslie McDevitt’s “Look at that Game.” (I say old-school because I adapted it form some privates I had with Emma Parsons and that was a LONG time ago.)

Essentially Ike gets rewarded for looking at creepy people and I do not have a reactive dog on my hands. I have a dog that is still a bit too over-stimulated by creepy people but isn’t lunging or barking his fool head off.

So, I think the fact that Ike has turned into a scanaholic tells me two things:

1. I need to change the rules of our game for Mister-Ike; and

2. I should begin providing additional mental stimulation for Ike.

I will begin experimenting with raising my walk expectations (I caught myself using an "off-limit" word! criteria) starting tomorrow. I will have to be mindful that there will always be some types of people that Ike deserves a cookie for not reacting to. After all, some people are just plain scarier to Ike. Hopefully if I add additional mentally stimulating games for Ike that will also help. Part of our morning walks involves training and I do not want to lose that, I just want to redirect it. And I would like my dog to go to the bathroom!

I am not sure if this will ease the scanning or not, but it is a start. If anyone has any brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) brainstorms, please share!


This is Evil-Yorky-Joey. He was my SIL's dog. My FIL has inherited him. He has no bite inhibition, no training, yada-yada. My FIL says and I quote, "Joey tries." I really do not care for him and neither does Ike!!

Anyway, don't let the cute, scruffy looks fool you. He is evil!

The FAVORITE Pink-Kitty

This is Ike's numero uno kitty. It is missing its tail, part of its ear and the voice box makes an extremely odd and slightly unpleasant stuttering dying electronic noise.

Ike adores it.

The replacement kitties don't get played with - period -

Saturday, March 1, 2008


Ike and I are supposed to be at the Bo-Gee Agility Trial today in Derry, NH. Yesterday I woke up at 3:45 am with a crushing headache and then I started hearing about all the snow headed our (their) way.

Since Ike just got over being as sick as he has ever been and I am apparently fighting something off I decided to be smart and scratch from the trial. ARGH!!! I spent all of yesterday torn between scratching, going up to Reading and being prepared to scratch, or just going. At 4:30 I decided that I would be wise to stay home.

I am bummed. However, I slept until 9am and it is still snowing up in Derry so I guess it was a good idea. I have way too much going on to get sick!

Being responsible is a pain!