Monthly Archives: September 2011

Nah, nah, I can’t hear you!

Well, I’m home from my weekly agility lesson with master trainer Debbie Berkley, who commented: “I see Rush is going through the juvenile ‘I can’t hear you!’ stage.” Fast forward a little further into our lesson: “I see he’s doing as good a job of training you as Dancer has done.”

Rush adores tunnels but was not interested in sitting to ask permission to do them; I made the excuse that perhaps his newly shaved butt was a bit sensitive, which made Debbie laugh. We spent the lesson working on his sit (which I thought he knew perfectly well, but apparently not) and on not barking in his crate while I worked with Dancer. By the end of the lesson, he was capable of sitting quietly and watching. Debbie has one crate with a curtain; she sat next to the curtain and just pulled it shut every time Rush started to bark. As soon as he was quiet for ten seconds, it was opened. He learned that lesson pretty quick.

The sit-for-permission was harder, but he did get there. I was so proud! He sat, I stepped two steps away, told him to take the tunnel, and he just flew through it.

Once we were home, I gave all three dogs bones with their lunch. So to set the scene: three poodles peacefully chewing on their bones. And action: The doorbell rings, and two of the poodles drop their bones and rush to bark at the door. Rush can’t believe his opportunity, and gathers up the bones. When the older poodles return, Rush is peacefully chewing his bone and the other two bones have disappeared. Where? Rush is lying on them.

Shaved off all that curly puppy fur….

Rush had a huge growth spurt yesterday–woke up at least an inch taller. Yesterday Paige put her hands on Rush and said “he’s thin”. And I said “Monday he actually had some padding and now he’s an inch taller.” Her reply: “so that’s where it went.”

This morning I woke up and realized that Rush had a terrible case of the itchies. I tried medicated shampoo a few days ago and it really didn’t help. Since I decided last night that I really didn’t want to try to show Rush in AKC conformation (which requires the fancy cut), I decided this morning to shave him down. Well, I found out the cause of the itchies–mats in some tough-to-brush spots, like armpits. He’s already clearly much happier, and I haven’t even given him a second bath (which will happen this afternoon when it’s warmer).

I know you all want to see what Rush looks like now that he’s shaved down, so I made a short video of his current ball retrieve. You’ll notice immediately that I have done nothing about his topknot and it looks kind of shaggy, but I actually like that. I left his tail unshaved too.

Here’s the video: Rush retrieves.

Dancer gets her AKC Novice Standard title

Almost exactly four years after her first run in AKC Novice Standard, Dancer got her NAP title on Friday. This weekend was not a joyful teeter, but she did three of them (three standard runs), earning a Novice Standard Q to finish her title, and earning her first Q in Open Standard the next day. In her run today, she did the teeter, but was distracted by something and crashed the triple. Given her distraction, I felt it made sense to leave; I thanked the judge (Lori Sage) and she took a few jumps on the way out.

Forgot to socialize for this…

Apparently, I forgot to socialize for stepladders. I had to clean out the gutter this morning, and when I was carrying the stepladder, it was very clear that Rush thought I was some sort of strange monster. He barked and yelled at me and barked and yelled some more. Until I put down the stepladder. Then I was okay, and so was the stepladder.

Elly will test any fence you have….

For a whole year, Elly hasn’t gotten into the vegetable garden (which has a fence separating it from the rest of the yard). Apparently, it’s because nothing appealed to her. Tonight, I couldn’t find her. Looked all over the yard. No sign of her. I put shoes on, put Dancer and Rush on leash, and went looking for her. I didn’t get far, because I found her in the vegetable garden, standing in the tomato bed, picking ripe cherry tomatoes off the vine.

Her topknot is green with extract of tomato leaves.

A triumph of classical conditioning….

Today, while Rush ate his lunch standing on the grooming table, I quickly dremeled all 16 toenails and two dewclaws. He held his feet up for me.

About a month ago, to my extreme embarrassment, I caught his ear hair in the dremel and completely freaked him and me out. I despaired of ever being able to dremel his toenails—and I’m lousy with a clipper. I was in the middle of my campaign to make him happy about the clipper, so I started alternating the clipper and the dremel while he was eating his soup. I played with his feet; I touched his toenails with the dremel (turned off); I clipped a little bit; I used the dremel to file my own nails (they’re very short now).

So far, so good.

Rush and the teeter board

Well, after all the issues with Dancer and the teeter, I was halfway holding my breath when I asked Rush to give the teeter board a try today. He walked across it and stood at the end. I clicked and gave him a treat. We did that about ten times. I swear, he yawned. “Mom, this is boring,” he was thinking, “can I please run down the stairs at full speed and jump from the third step onto the back of the couch?”

“No, honey, you did that yesterday.”

Second Basic Obedience Class, and more

We’re continuing to work on attention, recalls, walking nicely on leash–and today we added stay to the mix. The in-class exercise was to simply tell the dog to sit, then reward right up to the release, clicking from time to time. I’ve worked a lot with Rush on WAIT so I was pretty sure he’d do well, and he did, certainly. He was looking everywhere but his feet weren’t moving a bit. I was so proud! It’s such a distracting environment. He even let me walk all the way around him twice, something I never succeeded in teaching either Dancer or Elly (mostly because I didn’t bother, but…).

After class, we came home for a bit so I could get some lunch, then drove south to the barn (class is north, barn in south, I think I put 70 or 80 miles on my car today). I worked with Elly on attention and loose leash walking (which she can do—-as long as I keep those treats coming, it takes a huge paycheck for her). I worked contacts and the teeter with Dancer (AKC trial this weekend, I’m trying to get out of Novice Standard, just need one more Q). I worked on tunnels and the table with Rush. And hoops. I don’t get why hoops confuse him when tunnels don’t… I’m not really sure he sees them.

Puppy Training…

I started a Basic Obedience class with Rush. While he’s been learning very well indeed, I wanted to make sure he knew how to work with me when there are other dogs around. Our first class was yesterday. At first he was terribly distracted by the other dogs, but he gradually decided I was more fun than they were, given that I had hot dogs. (My newest method of making hot dogs: boil to reduce fat content, cut up, dry the pieces on a paper towel for an hour or two in the oven on the dehydrate setting (175 degrees and convection). Makes them a bit chewy and a lot less greasy in your pocket.)

The class was mostly pretty familiar: sit, down, touch, walk nicely on leash… and stand. I’ve never taught a dog to stand. The hardest part was figuring out how I wanted to signal it.

Today I took Rush down to the barn (and Elly and Dancer too) to train. Rush is beginning to get the concept of being sent into tunnels and being sent between jump standards. It’s fun! He is fast through the tunnels, too.

I also worked with Dancer on contacts. It occurred to me that I could test the contact position using ItsYourChoice the same way I test self-control in a sit. I showed Dancer a huge handful of hot dog bits; I ran her over the contact; once she stopped on the contact, I stood next to her with my hand open and fed her a few of them, one at a time. The second I managed to lure her off the contact, I closed my fist and stopped rewarding her.

I did that three or four times with both the a-frame and the dogwalk. After a while, she was racing into contact position and really sticking it. I need to test it on the contacts at the other barn, too.