Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Fun

Some agility practice for Teller and Kipling with some good friends followed by Teller's best skill playing with puppies! Didn't get any pics of Kippie's agility work, but he did really well for a green dog in a new place - sticking his a-frames and teeters. Jumping, reading crosses, tunnels, etc. Good session in the sunshine! The funniest picture of the day:

Check out the pictures at the bottom for Pam's super-cute baby Connor.

Teller's silly face enticing Connor to PLAY! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A vent on behalf of dog trainers everywhere...

Here's one of those vents that has been a long time in the making - but must be said - at the very least to get it off my chest. It's part vent, part rambling and it starts like this...

In the office or at dinner parties (the few I go to since I'm usually off training, trialing or otherwise occupied) I'm always introduced as 'the dog trainer' or 'the dog lady' - something of the like. Often with some sort of phrase such as "if you need help training your dog ask Erica". In general I'm pretty giving with my advice. I know a lot of these engineer types won't actually go take classes (because they're so incredibly brilliant they already know it all) or they have such busy schedules fitting in training time is impossible. In these cases if I can offer some solutions I know I'm helping the dog - the person, well they take the free advice and do whatever they'd like with it. If their 12 year old dog never learns to retrieve there's no skin off my nose, but I've given them some tips to get started. Sometimes these folks will end up in a class with me - or someone else (which is fine). I don't really care who trains the dog if the net result is a better dog-owner relationship.

Then there are the folks who persist, who come back time and time again looking for advice on how to 'fix' the behavior their dog has always had that has always bothered them, that they REALLY WANT TO FIX, but then will argue with me over a thousand excuses why they can't use any of my suggestions for any number of reasons - and then will complain over and over again about above referenced behavior. It becomes this "My dog is so bad that..." punchline.

Case in point: 
A recent acquaintance, has a high-energy working breed. On first introduction he tells me that he's owned this breed for 25 years and he's never had one as completely untrainable as this one (which he's had for five years btw - from puppyhood). The dog is high energy, probably high drive too - would probably make a dynamite working dog if she was in a different home. The unwanted behavior is pulling on leash - not an unusual problem for owners of big high-energy dogs.

This dog has been dragging her people on 5 mile walks every day for five years. As it was described to me "She pulls, and bucks and rears" the whole way. The wife can't walk her because she's so strong and the husband complains that it's 'so much work' to try to walk this dog every morning.

My first question - how much exercise does this dog get?

It turns out this dog does not get any off-leash exercise - EVER. She's off-leash in their small backyard, but she has been declared non dog friendly (with no actual evidence to this fact) and 'will not come' when she is off-leash. Well, if YOU were a dog and never got any freedom, or exercise - or training, my guess is that you would buck and pull when you were walked at a leisurely pace too.

So my solution (again, remember this is all free advice) - find the dog someplace to run off-leash or with a long-line or teather. That line could be 100' long if you needed it to be, but this dog needs to burn off that excessive energy - and she needs to do so every day. Once she's gotten that release you can start working the leash walks, but you can never let her buck and pull again. When she pulls you need to stop your motion and wait for her to reconnect with you. You need to offer positive reinforcement when she is walking with you and not bucking and pulling. Start in small spaces (your backyard) get some really nice loose leash walking in your yard, then move to your driveway, etc. Build up the behavior with small steps at a time - with lots of positive reinforcement.

But she can't be off leash! But she is REALLY tired after she pulls for five miles! But she doesn't run when she's loose in the yard - she just stands at the door. But I don't have that much time to do all that training. But the wife doesn't want to deal with a dog who hasn't had a long walk to tire her out. But I'd have to get up at 4am to take her to the park when no one is there. But she doesn't like treats or toys!

Excuses. And more excuses. One of those situations where I'm not going convince the dog owner to make changes and one of those situations where I can say the same thing every morning, dispense the same "how much exercise is she getting" advice and the dog's situation won't change. So today my conversation (in unfortunately a public setting after a relatively long frustrating dialogue) with this person ended badly:
"You must like things the way that they are because you have a lot of reasons for not wanting to change the behavior".

Done. I do feel guilty for not helping the dog - but I won't keep giving away tools and getting back disrespect and excuses.That's not the way this game works.

Here he is with a solid plan for fixing this problem which he's had for five years - but it's too hard. It's too much work. It's too inconvenient. I can't fix what people are unwilling to change for themselves. I can give people the tools to change, I can give people ideas on what has worked for other dogs and other clients in the past. But I can't (and frankly don't want to) work with people, dogs, clients, etc who aren't willing to put the time into fixing the issue.

And that is pretty much how my day went. Nothing a 5 mile run couldn't fix though. Five miles in 1:11:52 tonight. I feel better already.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Over-Rover - April 25th, 2012

Another night of cross-training for the boys. My intention was to get them out for a good long run, but they were significantly more interested in eating grass than running and retrieving. So we wandered over to the sand ring and played on some horse jumps. BOY! Are we glad that we don't have to lug the likes of THESE around!!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Kipling says Wheeeeeee!

Kippie has never met a stranger.
Here he is cozying up to spectators and
watching the excellent standard class....
So it's been a while since I've done a Kipling update. He's working hard, he's coming along. He's also a 12 month old intact male adolescent - who is frequently lacking in manners and attention span. Kippie has moments of brilliance and moments of, well...not so brilliance. He's looking more and more like a big boy and at the same time looking so immature as well. At the moment he's SUPER skinny so he's basically eating me out of house and home - for breakfast alone this morning the boy ate six duck necks. I've also made him a couple of boxes of mac and cheese to stabilize his weight a little. I don't need to add a lot of weight to his frame, but I need to not see his ribs through his fluffy coat either.

For fun we've been working on cross-training - go to the park play on the wobble bridge. Go to the trails for a hike, work recalls and jumping over random things. He's proven himself to be very smart, very bold and pretty much not phased by any of the weird things I've asked him to do.

Here's his first session on the slide at the school:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Burlington Obedience Training Club - April 20-22, 2012

A QQ cheeseburger in the rain is JUST as good as a plain
old cheeseburger in paradise. Hold the lettuce and tomato!
FINALLY a home show for Team Teller. Three days of trials in an awesome fieldhouse on great turf and getting to come home and sleep in our own bed at night! Oh and a super fun house guest (AND - to Kippie's delight - a super-cute border collie too), lots of mileage on the sneakers around the facility and surrounding bike trails, great dinners out with friends and a SHORT drive home after the trial this afternoon!

Sunday's QQ cheeseburger in the field.
Love the leaves starting to come out! Everything is so
green here in Vermont right now (we are of
course "the GREEN mountain state" after all)!
Teller had a phenomenal weekend in front of the home crowd finishing with 3 JWW Q's, 2 Standard Q's and one T2B Q - missing only Standard on Friday Afternoon! That all translated to 2 double Q's and about 65 points towards that MACH2 we're chipping away at.

Teller was so consistent all weekend - his runs were SMOOTH - just smooth. All that time we spent chasing double-Q, double placements and this weekend we got not one but two more (a pair of reds and a pair of yellows).

Thank you Teller-Woo. You're such a good teammate!

Not a bad weekend for Woo - four placements and four new toys!
I broke the runs into three separate videos by day.



Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Kipling!!

Today is Kipling's first birthday. A year ago the hypothetical became the theoretical over the following weeks became reality. Widdle Kay-Doo isn't so little anymore. Some pictures from the evening.
Kippie's sister Jordan sent the boys a party package with hats and cookies.
They liked the cookies and tolerated the hats.

Kipling's first quasi-agility pic. 

Somewhere along the line this week Kipling's dogwalk
contact 'broke'. His 2o2o turned into a sit. We've got
LOTS of time to fix it though!

Teller's dogwalks have been phenomenal this week.
AND I think he might be getting even more HANDSOME!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Acclimating the dogs to the heat

So it's April 16th, when the average high temperature should be about 50 degrees. Today it was 85 when I got home from work. SUPER. Just SUPER. But let's make the best of it!

My dogs always have a hard time with the change in weather - and to be honest Teller and Murphy both pretty much melt in heat and humidity - it's what keeps us in Vermont. They are Scottish dogs of course - Teller as Mr. Zero Percent body-fat seems to be particularly impacted by heat.  But since I'm planning to trial outside a bit this summer, we can try to get in some acclimation time before then. Short sessions when it's hot, followed by dogs passed out on the tile floor :-)

So Murphy stayed home this afternoon and Teller, Kipling and I went out to the school for a quick run and retrieve session.

4/16 - Everything within reach - and totally messy!
Leashes, brushes, harnesses, crates, bowls, treats,
water, ribbons, honey, toys...  
Both boys worked a bit when we got home - some 'yellows' on the bottom of the dogwalk.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Post-Bath Yellow Dogs

More photographic catch-up! Here are some post bath photos from April 6th

Kipling ten days shy of his first birthday.

Sweet face on a sweet dog.
This one totally captures the essence of Teller.

Murphy still a bit damp (he hates the blower) looking a bit ruffled.
Bad hair day Murphy?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Syracuse 2012

Catching up with the contents of my memory card - all 8gb of it! That's lot to get through! Found a fountain out on the Syracuse Fairgrounds (March 31st) and took some time to pose the boys:

Murphy says: I'm done with stays, do you have any cookies?

Friday, April 13, 2012

My dog is a hovercraft...

And other amusing images from this afternoon: