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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kirby Bow

I sat down with Kirby last night with my clicker and bait bag. I didn't have a goal in mind, I just wanted to start dinking around and seeing what he would offer.

We started with a belly crawl. That was fun, but seemed uninteresting at the time. At one point his butt remained in the air briefly while he was on his way to a down and it sparked the 'bow' work. That and Laura's explaination of 'Be a Table Top' sounds like soooo much fun!

Kirby picked this up pretty quickly. I apologize for the camera angle. I'm not so much the videographer...

And sorry about the cat constantly walking across the screen. That Orange Dude just does what he wants.

I did begin adding the command here, but I don't know if I'm supposed to yet or not. This is not even close to solid yet, so maybe I need to wait longer?  *shrug*

Two things that I noticed that I need to work on:
*Not being so quick to pull the trigger- I notice that I click when his ass comes all the way down. Whoops.
*Sometimes my 'YES' marker word jumps in there along with the click. That might take some time to cure.

Share your thoughts!

ps~ If you ever hear me 'growling' at Kirby when I'm 'YESing' him (as in this video after the paw), it's because he likes it. It's weird and it's hard to explain. Kirby seems to react better to men and men's deeper, husky voices then he does to most female voices. This has been questioned both at disc comps and in agility class. He runs better for my male agility instructor, and he plays frisbee better with my non-frisbee playing hubby when they 'growl' at him. And I was told that the person who adopted Kirby from the rescue previously was a male. He likes being spoken to roughly. If you don't like or approve of my growling at my dog, don't watch his videos. Thank you and have a nice day.  :o)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Never Get Bored!

I am never going to get bored with this trick training!  It's simply not possible!  I've got 4 dogs and a cat at home, and there are different things to teach each one of them. Here's what they have been working on this week.

Kirby: "Fetching a beer from fridge'.
We began with having Kirby target a tug toy that is hanging from the fridge handle. I've also been asking him to pick up empty soda cans to get familiar with the material of the can. I do wonder how he will fit a full one though. Can coolie maybe?  Or bottles with the coolie on it?  Not sure, haven't gotten that far yet. I certainly don't want him getting hurt and will scrap the trick if the cans become a safety hazard.

Maggie: 'Clicker Comfort'.
I have no goals with Maggie yet except to get her comfortable with the clicker sound. She is offering downs and sits though!

Jake: 'Spins, Targeting & Belly Crawling'.
Jake is the most fun to work with, possibility-wise, but also the most frustrating. Frustrating because for one, he has one of those mammoth-vacuum-Labrador mouths, so every time I offer him a treat, he is inhaling with a super wide open mouth. So 75% of the time he misses the treat (it falls out of the gaping hole of course!) and the treat will roll under something and then his attention is lost until he finds the food. And for two, he's already got an arsenal of tricks that he knows so if I attempt to shape something, he's launching through the entire arsenal thinking that one of the tricks is going to get him what he wants.  Usually it looks like this; sit-laydown-play dead-launch into a couple of vertical jumps-sit pretty-left paw-right paw-left paw-sit-playdead-verticle jump, all the while whining and barking.
We've begun working on his treat taking. I'm holding the treats in my hand until he nicely nibbles them from my hand, which gets a click and another treat.  We also started trying the above 3 tricks!  He will spin counter clockwise with little luring, but he seems determined not to turn clockwise. He did it twice with some serious luring, but it has me thinking maybe it's uncomfortable him to do so.

Frankie: I haven't tried anything with her yet. But think I will use her to work more Frisbee tricks, like dog catch without a disc, hoop, etc. All can be done using a clicker.

Sylvester: 'Sit, Stand, Laydown'.
Syl seems to enjoy the clicker training!  Probably mostly because of the food involved. Syl is very greedy. He's got a nice sit, but I think it's a fluke. He won't sit on command unless he knows I have food. Fluke. I can lure a stand and a down, but haven't put any words to it yet.

I wonder if I should try clicker training Red...

Clicker Maggie

A couple of years ago, I dropped my clicker. Not literally, but figuratively. I absolutely love the click/treat method of training, but I hate dealing with the clicker itself. I'm not skilled in the multi-tasking department anyways, and trying to click on time, dealing with my bait bag and treats, keeping the leash under control, etc got to be a little much.  So I took the theory and I replaced my clicker with the word 'YES'.

The marker word works well in most situations for us. It keeps confusion to a minimum and the dogs know it. All of them have been introduced to a clicker and all of them except for Maggie have a good foundation in it's meaning.

Maggie has always been noise reactive. If you set your coffee mug down on the table too hard, she runs for cover. She doesn't appreciate cans opening or people suddenly farting near her. I've made attempts with Maggie on the clicker before, but quickly stopped after seeing the world of terror it sent her in to.

My recently renewed interest in trick training had me trying again. I didn't think to get the first couple-minute session recorded and I should have. It would have shown you what I meant. I first tried clicking and then tossing a very high value treat out for her. But she didn't see the treat because she was already hightailing it in another direction. I called her back and gave her a few treats to show her what I had, then began clicking as she was just taking the treat. She spooked a couple of times, but her Corgi stomach won out over the fear and she stayed with me. We called it quits on a good note and Red and I took her for a walk.

After the walk, we came back to it. I did record this one! You can see in the beginning she's kind of hiding behind the chair. She knows I have food and she wants it.
After I watched the playback, I can see I'm not clicking nearly as fast as I should be. About halfway through when I feel good about her association of clicker and food, I start waiting for her to offer something. On one hand it's a little heartbreaking to see her become stressed enough that she thinks about simply running away. But on the other hand, she's so cute and so determined to stay!  I'm incredibly proud of her for being so brave for me. You can see her actively making decisions throughout the process.

I wait for a couple of sits, then I begin waiting for the down. Check it out and critique what you think I should change or tell me what I'm doing right. Cuz I'm not always certain!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kookamunga Kitty Weed

Hey, the cat has to have some fun too!

Enter, the Kookamunga Kitty Weed. I mean catnip.

His reactions are varied. Sometimes he gets the zoomies, sometimes he rolls around on it and acts like an idiot, and sometimes he just eats it.

On this particular day, he choose to go the idiot route. 


Monday, August 20, 2012


I had the privilage of hanging out with Laura and Lance-A-Lot over the weekend at our disc dog club's Star Jam!  It was a fun night... until the sky turned blood red and the lightening started showing it's ugly head.

Laura is a gifted dog trainer, and Lance is a DOLL FACE who knows a gazillion tricks. This is where Laura will pipe up and say that it's not a gazillion. But I'm here to tell you that if it's not a gazillion, it's at least like a million. Or somewhere in that range.  He's so smart and he's got huge ears and everything he does is way too adorable.

Anyways, Andrew Han was visiting here in the land of ten thousand (15,000+) lakes and we got a front row seat to view some of Lance's tricks! It got me thinking and asking about how to train some of them.

Today, I recieved a list of awesome dog tricks to play with (thank you, Laura!) and I'm so excited to start working on some of them! Hopefully I won't be a total sandbagger and I'll remember to video some of the stuff. Or at least take photos?  But I'm making no promises.

Friday, August 3, 2012


It's already been nearly a month since I brought Frankie to a surgeon to have acl surgery, to then (thank you God!) find out that she didn't need it!  In that time I've completely changed the way my dogs do things. Everybody is on joint suppliments now. Jake already was, Maggie because she's a Corgi and she's that age where backs and limbs might start giving her grief. Frankie and Kirby are also on the stuff now. Both of them are under five years old, so I hadn't put them on it initially. It's for older dogs, I thought. But then the acl scare happened and with the Aussies being sport dogs, regardless of age, they are going to require it to keep them comfortable down the road.

I'm doing a lot more hands on stuff with them too these days. Massage, stretching, lots more 'grooming' time, I call it. Mostly its just me petting and hugging my dogs all the time. Lol!  But the Furminator is right there so why not brush more fur away.

But most importantly, for my piece of mind, I've been walking Frankie differently. Frankie's natural speed is usually a gallop of sorts. She doesn't do anything slowly or calmly. When she's galloping or loping or cantering, I can't gauge her gait very well. Everytime I'm outside with Frankie, I'm watching her movement like a hawk.

I might be the slightest bit paranoid.

I've always walked multiple dogs at a time. It made more sense, there are four of them and I can hold on to two leashes. But this also makes for more work, less focus and shorter leashes to keep from getting all tangled up.
Now, after I work with Frankie on disc dog stuff, we cool down with a walk by ourselves on a flexi. Frankie can go out ahead of me, I can watch her walk and most importantly, I can control her speed. I can watch for any hitches in her step, limping, favoring, weight distribution, anything that could tip me off about her comfort.

And then afterwards, she's just the right amount of tired that I can brush on her some more.
Last night's fur load.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I have this teeny-tiny-itty-bitty little obsession for double merle Aussies...

It's gigantic, actually. But I need to downplay it here.

Today I spent an hour posting ASRM's newest puppy to the website and I'm completely, one hundred percent, head-over-heels enamoured with him. SAM!  He's deaf and blind.

You can't HANDLE the cute!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

2 x 2 Weaves

Kirby loves agility. We take our classes through Paws Abilities Dog Training and it's been a very fun journey!  At this point, Kirby will take just about every obstacle put in front of him, with the exception of a full on teeter (it's still modified on short tables) and weaves.

Wait, let me make a correction. Kirby will do weaves just perfectly fine... on the Paws Abilities class course. Anywhere else, it's as though he's never seen a weave pole before.  It's mildly frustrating for me to watch him do them perfectly in class and then go home to our setup and watch him clown around like he doesn't have a clue.

So, while attending a NADAC agility trial last weekend, I had a chance to sit down with Laura from The Dogs Are Really In Charge and she said "Have you tried the 2x2 method yet?"  Ummmm... no?  I'd heard of it before. I'm a big Susan Garrett fan and I have a number of her books and DVD's. But I'd never tried the 2x2 weaves before. Using her shoes and mine on a bleacher seat, Laura explained the basic concept to me.

And last night, we put it to the test.

I stuck two poles into the ground about 2 ft apart. I had our handy dandy tennis ball in hand. I sat Kirby directly in front of the poles about 7 ft away, got into place with my arm out and told him to 'weave'.

He ran around the poles. "Oops!" is our fail word. It means 'That is not what you were asked, let's try it again' and no reward.

Reset. "Weave". Kirby again flew around the poles and searched the air for his beloved ball. "Oops!"

Reset. This time I set him up about 4ft from the opening and was a little more obvious with my hand/arm. Kirby bolted between the poles!  "YES!" Throw the ball.

I love our new tennis ball reward system by the way. Once that ball is thrown, Kirby must immediately flip back through and figure out what exactly he did to get that result, because he's a quick study after that.

Reset again, about 5ft away. He nailed it again and again. It was only when I changed his start position at a bit of an angle that he got confused and ran around them. But we simply reset and tried again and he did it!  We ended there on that note. If I've learned anything in dog training, it's that short, quick sessions are more likely to bring success than a long, frustrating, drawn out session. So no matter what we're doing, we keep it short.

I will likely need to borrow or buy the 2x2 weaves DVD soon, just so I'm clear. But a couple of people have sent me youtube videos which are also really helpful. Stay tuned to see if 2x2's works for us!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sport Dog Injuries

On June 18th, I took Frankie out into the backyard to practice for our club's largest comp of the year. We were barely into it when I noticed Frankie's mouth was bleeding, pretty heavily on one side. We stopped and I had her go get a drink of water. It's not uncommon for disc dogs to bleed once and a while, since they often bite their tongues when they snatch a Frisbee out of the sky. The bleeding appeared to have stopped, so we went back to it. After one catch her mouth was bleeding heavily again, so again we stopped and got some water. I took a peek in her mouth to see what was going on and discovered that one of her lower teeth on the right side had broken in half! 

The vet was called and a dental scheduled for that Wednesday so we could get the problem taken care of. I picked her up Wednesday night and unfortunately, since I was concerned about her oral comfort level, we cancelled our place at the competition. But Frankie healed and life was good again.

On June 25th I took Frankie out into the backyard to practice for an upcoming Frisbee demo. We worked on a few specific moves and within 5 minutes or so, we were done. Frankie trotted off to get water and walk around like she usually does after a practice and I took my spot on the patio to watch her walk as I usually do. I've become very tuned into my dog's walking and trotting gaits as I've become more and more paranoid about them being injured.  Frankie walked normally, went potty and we went inside to watch some tv.

About an hour later, it was nearing time to get the dogs fed and ready for bed. I took everybody outside one last time to potty and in watching Frankie, I thought I was catching glimpses of her being kind of wonky on her right rear leg. I was concerned, but when I went to check further she went into wiggling spasms and went over for a belly rub. While she was down, I checked for heat or swelling, but couldn't feel anything.

The next morning I woke up and went to let the dogs outside. Frankie was standing in her crate with her right leg hiked way up. Panic on my part, wiggling on hers. I let everybody outside and watched Frankie. She wouldn't even attempt to put weight on it. It was almost like it was so tight that she couldn't lower it. That's about when I started crying. To try and help me out, Frankie hopped over to the nearest Frisbee and dropped it at my feet and backed up, waiting. Silly dog.

I rushed her to the vet, fearing an ACL tear. My vet seemed to agree and referred us to an ortho surgeon who specalizes in knee injuries.
On July 9th, I drove Frankie to the surgeon's clinic to have her surgery. We filled out the paperwork and went in for a thourough exam and xrays. To make a very long story short, we got lucky. God blessed my little blue dog and it was found that Frankie did not require surgery and more than likely, her acl was fine. *happy dance!*

But the instances this year of my dogs going through one thing or another, especially the Aussies with their sports, really has me thinking hard about what more I could be doing to prevent the injuries in the first place. Here are a few of the things that we are beginning or have already been doing to help prevent injury.

*Managing their weight ~ Overweight dogs are going to come down a lot harder then a fit, lean dog.
*Conditioning ~ Ensuring that your sport dog is active and trains in their sport regularly will keep their muscles strong and more able to support the body.
*Adding joint suppliments ~ Fish oils, glucosomine and MSM are all things that my 10yo Lab takes to keep him limber and feeling good. But all of our dogs will now be on this program.
*Nutrition ~ Make sure that you are feeding your dog a well balanced, nutritionally correct diet for their size, weight, age and activity level. Bread and bacon bits from the table do not count as good nutrition! Plus that promotes begging and that's just annoying.
*Regular dentals ~ I knew that keeping my dog's teeth and gums clean and healthy was just...healthy. But I was not aware until my visit with the surgeon that keeping their teeth healthy will also aide in keeping their joints healthy!  She didn't explain the why, but it's interesting and something I'll remember for sure.
*Know your dog ~ Become hyper aware of your dog's gait and watch for any inconsitancies. Dogs are generally very stoic and won't show their pain or discomfort, which is why you need to know your dog well enough to step in when something looks wrong.
*Massage ~ This is one that we are beginning right away! Learning how to warm up your dog properly and massage major muscle groups will not only keep them limber, it will also alert you to any new growths or knots as soon as they appear. Eventually your hands will know your dog's body so well that you'll be able to feel something as small as a mosquito bite that's not normally there!
*Pet Insurance ~ This is another thing we are starting. Pet insurance, depending on which plan you choose, can be a major life saver when it comes to vet bills. And I mean literally a life saver. Major vetting on a pet costs a lot of money and unless you are really awesome at saving money and have some put away for this kind of emergency, chances are most people can't afford it. So their only other option is to put their pet down or give them away. For Frankie, it will cost me about $35 a month to put her on the best plan the company that I've chosen offers. So now in the future, if Frankie does need a knee surgery or something, we will get about 90% of it back with the insurance. Yes, $35 for one dog every month might seem like a lot. But $35 a month is much much easier to do than a $3K knee surgery!  We were forced to take out a loan from the bank to pay for Frankie's surgery, which required that our vehicles be used as collateral and we had to put full coverage insurance on them while the loan is active!  Like I said, we were blessed that we're able to pay it back right away because surgery wasn't needed. But if the opposite had been true, I'd be paying $250 a month for the loan payment AND the extra $100+ for car insurance. Yes, $35 a month is MUCH easier to look at than $350 a month!

We love dog sports and our dogs love doing what they do. Our world revolves around dog sports. I never want to have to take that away from them. We have been given a second chance to do things the right way, so you can be damn sure we are going to do it right this time around.

What else do you do for your animals who are active in hunting, agility, frisbee, etc??  Post in the comments below!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jump Solution

Kirby and I have been taking agility classes for appx 2 years now. I think. Anyways, jumping has not been one of Kirby's strong points. Well, he can jump just dandy if it's strait up into the air or to catch a Frisbee. When that is the case, it's like Kirby was born on springs for legs. But 12" agility jumps?  90% of the time, he just blows them off.

I'm not laying all of the blame on Kirby though. I'll take half of it, becausemy handling skills are nowhere near perfect. My positioning probably made him think he didn't need to take that jump.  But once my handling improved, the jumping did not.

Our agility instructor, Rick, put his thinking cap on. He pulled me aside and gave us some homework. I have a few agility jumps at home. I was to start with one. Set up Kirby as usual. Instead of treats though, he told me to keep a tennis ball in hand. After Kirby was released and I was certain that he was committed to taking the jump, I would mark it 'YES!" and throw the ball. 

This worked almost immediately and during the first night we were able to add a second jump. This actually ended up failing about half the time, so we went back to class and discussed with Rick and he tweaked our homework a bit. Now I was to send him off to jump and mark/reward, but each time I started backing up and moving out. This was teaching distance. There was a time when I would have to turn really close into the jump to force Kirby over it and prevent him from coming into my side and blowing it off. We had no distance. But soon we were able to add jumps and I could begin on either side from a good distance away. 

We have absolutely not 'mastered' the agility jump, not by any stretch of the imagination. But we've greatly improved. By the next class, Rick said it was like he was a completely different dog, taking most if not all of the jumps he was asked to!

Switching from treats to a tennis ball had huge effects on the agility course. We have since begun using it elsewhere, and I'm kicking myself for not doing it earlier because I'm sure we would have advanced a lot quicker. 
As long as the black dog is having fun though, it's alright by me. And I really enjoy our agility classes. I've always had really nice classmates and it's educational to watch them work as well and pick their way through their own issues and come up with a solution. Sometimes it helps me, sometimes it doesn't, but may help somebody else. As long as I can afford it, I will likely continue taking classes even after we begin trialing. While I will technically be taking the same class multiple times, they are never the same. Paws Abilities trainers have always been excellent at looking at the individual team and breaking each class down to fit the needs of it's students. Our main focus for our last Intermediate Agility classes was jumps and handling skills. We are beginning Intermediate Agility again and those 6 classes will probably focus on something completely different. That's the beauty of it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pawsitive Vybe Seminar

Over Memorial Day weekend, we attended a four day long training seminar with the trainers of Pawsitive Vybe.  This is our third year attending the PVybe camp.

If you are not familiar with PVybe, it's a dog training studio that was founded by two sport dog rockstars. They are positive trainers and they focus on, well, everything. PVybe is HQ'd in New York, however it currently has branches in North Dakota, Wisconsin and Florida as well.

The focus of our camp this weekend was Disc Doggin (K9 Frisbee). It's kind of become our 'survival kit' to make it through the long Minnesota winters. We have something huge to look forward to every spring!

We worked on a ton of things over the course of the weekend. But the one that stood out to me the most was actually a very small thing. In learning this sport and playing with Frankie, I was unintentionally making things very difficult for us. At last year's camp for instance, we didn't have a Scoot. A basic, relatively simple move that has your dog do a 180 in front of you and back up through your legs from front to back. So Apryl worked with us using treats and from there we traded the frisbee until we had a Scoot. Well, in order to keep getting the scoot, I would scoot her, then automatically turn to the right and toss a disc out in front of me. That was her reward, as well as a setup for a throwing sequence. So this year, as we worked on new Scoot moves, it was discovered that now I had conditioned Frankie to always come out to my right, making it difficult to take this setup move and apply it elsewhere. It was very frustrating for me (in a good way).

Another example is the 'Go Around', where I signal Frankie to run around behind me on my right and come flying forward from my left. This was the very first 'trick' in disc that we ever learned!  So for the last four years, when I signal a Go Around, a disc is going to be thrown in front of me. That has just always been the case.  So when Ron wants Frankie to Go Around and then immediately do a Leg Over, it's almost impossible to break her of this habit that I spent four years creating.

To sum it up, that small thing is learning how to break up things that I've engrained over the years. Frankie can be a tough cookie to work with sometimes. She's incredibly smart and insanely driven for the disc. But after enough repetition, she will begin to see the shortcuts and she will not hesitate to take them.

For this upcoming season, I've laid out my goals.
#1 - Perfect my vaults and rebounds
#2 - Create a freaking routine!

For the past three seasons, I've relied completely on my brain. And that hasn't always worked out in my favor. I tend to 'wing it' when we step onto the competition field. While other, more successful disc doggers can go out and I can tell you just about every move they will make and the order in which they will do it. That's called a routine. And the nice thing about routines is that once you have one, you are no longer 'winging it'. I'm tired of winging everything. My anxiety over competing has only increased every season, not subsided as I'd hoped. My confidence is not building as I gain experience.

I learned much. But now I need to figure out how to put it together.
Overall it was a great weekend!  I felt like we had tiny breakthroughs and now we're ready to disc dog for real.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Hills Are Alive...

No, they really aren't. But I couldn't think of a good title right at the moment.

I've been away for exactly one month today. Not away away, but like away from the blog. Whoops.
I didn't forget. I actually have a lot of things to talk about!  But I am so lazy sometimes...

Anyways, today I wanted to share a photo of my handsome Labby boy, 'pre-sportdog' if you will.
Before I discovered dog sports and realized the importance of maintaining my pet's weight.  I can't seem to maintain my own weight. But that's something I don't really want to talk about right now.

Jake.  Pre-sportdog. I'm not proud of this at all, btw.
Look at those rolls. He's like a pudgy bear-dog. Today, Jake is trim and can hike with the best of them. There are no rolls that sag over his collar. He actually has a neck now.

Thank God for dog sports. I can't believe I was one of 'those' people who let's their pets suffer this way.

Overfeeding is just as bad as underfeeding in my brain!

Hey, it's hump day!  Holla!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lights Out

I legitimately made an attempt to work on yesterday's goals. I got out my dusty bait bag. I chopped up the Nature Balance roll stuff and mixed it with some small kibble. I got out the necessary tools for each animal.

I sat on the couch to eat dinner before I began training.

Before I know it, there was a BANG! and the power goes out. Pure blackness. There was not a single thing to be seen. The streetlights had gone out, the neighborhood was down for the count. My phone was dead, so we used Red's phone light to get a dozen candles lit. We gated the dogs in the foyer, just to keep any crazy animal on candle stuff from happening, then we stepped outside to see how far it went.

The neighborhood was eerily silent, and adding to the creepy effect was the fact that the moon was full, huge and spotlight white. We could see our neighbors in their homes shining flashlights around, so I knew Red couldn't blame it on my hairdryer again.

Finally the utility trucks showed up. So did the cops. A blown transformer maybe?

So anyways, we didn't have any power. And judging by the number of trucks that arrived to crowd around the pole, we wouldn't have power for a while. Red and I pulled out the cribbage board and played by candlelight. Eventually, it was time to get ready for bed. We brushed our teeth and fed the dogs by candlelight. It was kind of relaxing actually. We crawled into bed and as we blew the last candle out, the power came back! 

Thinking back on it now, I actually could have used this incident as a training opportunity. Kirby was oddly alarmed by the sudden outage and was very 'Aussie Alert' until we went to bed. He began barking as soon as the power went out. Going from a fully lit house with the TV on to complete silence and dark did not make him happy. Anytime a car drove by or anything he went on full Aussie Alert Bark, groaning and pacing. But I was too preoccupied finding candles and looking out the window at the utility trucks.

It did bring up another thing to add to Kirby's training list though. He has some anxiety stuff that we need to tackle. We stayed pretty calm last night, to the point where it was kind of humerous. So I dont think our actions were making him tense.


Okay, and in writing that last paragraph, it occurs to me that Kirby has some light reactive stuff in the past. He always has, and it was pretty intense right when I adopted him, but with the help of Tania from House of Misfit Dogs we had pretty much knocked it out almost completely. Kirby doesn't like fire. Candles. Okay, I see where we went wrong. There is my lightbulb moment for the day. I woundn't know that Kirby doesn't like fire except for the fact that when I use the clickey lighter thing anywhere near him to light candles, he barks at me and gets that insane look in his eyes. It's odd that he in no way associates that with the treat clicker??  Interesting....

Gotta love a lightbulb moment.

Monday, February 6, 2012

You Gotta Have Goals!

Since beginning this blog only a short time ago, a small space of my brain has been watching and storing bits of information in regards to my animal's behaviors. I've been picking up little things that I can start working on.  So here is one thing for each animal that will begin today.

Sylvester ~ Introduction to a target clicker stick

Maggie ~ A basic sit.

Kirby ~ Kirby actually has a lot of basic obedience on him already. He would probably excel in it if I gave him the time. But I have no patience for 'that' kind of obedience, so I'd rather put those talents into trick training. Who knows, maybe I can teach him to fetch me a beer! Today we will begin shaping with an empty plastic bottle.

Jake ~ Jake has a lot of basic obedience on him too. But his is very rushed. In fact, if there is even a hint that I might give him a crumb of whatever I hold in my hand, he will launch through his entire hat of tricks. So we will begin slowing this stuff down.

Frankie ~ Standing on her hind legs.

If you're lucky, I will manage to get some of this on video. Either the beginning examples of what I'd like to change, or the change itself.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Kitteh Revenge

I hear it all the time. 'Revenge is not an emotion or instinct that animals can grasp'.

I say that's crap. There is nothing you can say to me that will convince me that my cat doesn't plot and get revenge.

I will say, however, that I roll my eyes anytime somebody tells me their dog takes revenge for things. Dogs are a creation of God. Cats are a creation of the devil.

Sylvester is a greedy creature. Not in the way of my Labrador. He's greedy, too. But in a different way. Sylvester believes he is entitled. To the following things:
The couch
The recliner
The other recliner
All overstuffed arms of said furniture
Every rug in the kitchen
A personal wait staff
Bubbles baths of champagne
100% of my attention, even though there are 5 other beings in the house that require my attention

If Sylvester doesn't get these things, he makes me regret it.

Example; Last night, I was running low on cat food. So he got a smidgen less for dinner than normal so that I'd have enough for his breakfast and then I could grab a new bag today. Well apparently Syl counts his kibbles every meal, because as soon as he was finished, he whipped around, yowling and following me around for more. (After a normal meal, Syl generally sits down on a rug, licks his chops, cleans his paws, and uses his litter box). 

This morning, I awake to an angry Red, who immediately insists that I look at his chair, and then look at the loaf of bread I bought over the weekend. I groggily glance at his recliner, which has some mysterious orange stuff spewed all over it. Then I make my way to the kitchen and discover that Syl has knawed through the bag and chewed the tops off of no less than 6 slices of bread.

I return to Red and tell him that it appears as though Kitteh got into the bread and then later realized he ate way too much, and being too lazy to get off his compfy perch at the top of Red's recliner, blew chunks all over the chair. And I wouldn't doubt for a minute that Syl then went on to snooze for a good 6+ hours, happy with life in general. But not yet satisfied that he'd gotten revenge.

No, the revenge part comes when he gets to watch me from his perch, on my hands and knees trying to clean up his mess with a rag.  Before I've even touched my first cup of coffee!  That, my friends, is the ultimate feline revenge.

Don't you dare try and tell me that cats don't understand what revenge is. They do, and they know how to carry it out with a scary kind of flawlessness. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Truth About My Dogs

As I begin to read more and more dog training blogs, I notice myself paying more and more attention to my own dog's behaviors. It's a bit humbling, to say the least.

There was a point in my life, not so long ago, when I believed that I had well behaved, well trained dogs. And while I still think this is mostly accurate, I am also coming to realize that they are well behaved and well trained in our own little world. That is, when it's me and them, all is good. I am the one they look to for direction, I am the one they listen to, I am the one who has become so smotheringly worried about them that I won't let anybody else do anything with them.

Bad dog mama!

My whole adult life, when I needed a dog sitter, I would enlist the help of my vet. Professional dog people, close to my home, kennels where they can't escape, etc. In the past year, I've been working hard to try and get out of my comfort zone and let people watch my dogs.

But as soon as I leave for wherever I am going, I am flooded with these terrible thoughts.
"They are going to run away, I know it"
"This person can't possibly control 4 dogs! I need to turn around and go back!"
"They don't understand how damaging Aussies can be on a house!"

It's never as bad as I think it is, my dogs are actually good dogs and everything is fine upon my return. But I have this keep seated belief that nobody, nobody, can take care of my dogs as well as I can.  Plus, knowing an Aussies nature and seeing first hand how they can react when stuck with somebody they don't know, I worry it will turn into a 'Homeward Bound' moment and they will all start talking to each other and determine that they must run away at all cost to track me down.

As I was setting up this blog for launch, even though nobody is going to read it probably, I started paying close attention to my dogs. And I came to one conclusion.

They are just not that well trained!

Going outside to potty them is dangerous if you are in their path as they barrel towards the door. And I realized that's a lot my fault because I make going outside to potty an exciting event. "Should we go outside and go potty?!" I announce with great enthusiasm. Mostly I do this because I love how no matter what they are doing, everybody's ears go up, their heads cock and they all stand at attention. It's kind of a giddy moment for me. I think to myself, look how beautiful and perfect they all are!  Then as soon as I make any motion to stand up, it becomes a race to the door. Shoes go flying, dvd stands tumble, rugs are heaved aside, the cat is trampled. If Kirby had to launch himself over a recliner to beat the rest, the chair tips over. There is barking and nails scratching the floor.

It's really chaotic. I had at one point enlisted the help of a fellow disc dogger for advice in remedying this, but I was in a hurry and didn't take the time I should have and soon forgot about it. Now I wish I could find it!  I envision 4 dogs lazily walking to the door and through it.

I girl can dream can't she?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I know, you guys keep checking out my site and nothing is happening, right?  That's because I'm trying to move things from my previous blog to this new one. And then I decide to skip it and say "If I wanted the old stuff, why not just use the old blog?"  Well because, I want to start a new blog.

I'm caught in between a rock and a hard place, okay? 

I've got years invested in the old blog. But it's so full of just randomness and not the direction I want to keep going and I feel like if I keep using it I'll just melt, okay? So I started a new blog that I haven't written in yet.

Okay?  Okay. 

But don't go away completely! Check back!