Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I am so proud of little Fergie! Last night out at Lori's house, I got her out after we had worked all the other boys and let her play. We did the full size a-frame, the full size dog walk and tunnel! I was so proud of her for being so brave with all of the big equipment. I even let her off leash to do the obstacles and she only ran off once. Harley ran after her and pounced on her so we caught her. Thank goodness I have herding dogs! Anyway, she was so awesome and I was so proud of her courage. Now, we have alot of work to do on the teeter. We are playing the bang game but the teeter is so much heavier than she is. Right now I am just clicking and treating for her putting feet on the teeter and last night she actually ate cookies on the teeter after she pushed it down. Of course the teeter is being held on the ground practically so her pushing it is nominal but I am working baby steps with her. She still doesn't like the noise of it so I am having the other dogs bang it down while I feed her yummy treats. We are making improvements but I would love suggestions on how to teach the teeter to an 8 lb dog!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deuce and Fergie again

Wow, having a little dog is such a different ball game! I am so use to my "big" dogs and at that herding dogs that are so biddalbe and want to work for you! I am still trying to find that button or trigger that gets Fergie to want to work with me, but we are doing better. She will work for food and will work for a tug toy but still doesn't have the drive I want to see. One thing that excites me is that we always train in one room and she will sit outside of that door and wait for me to open it so we can work. The other night she kept going up stairs and then peaking down the slats in the staircase like "You are coming, right?". I am really learning how to adapt my teachings to such a little dog. For instance, I had to use a tug toy to teach her turn and I usually use a food lure. She just didn't appreciate me leaning over her and would scoot out away from me from the pressure. So far Fergie knows "balance" which means jump on the balance disc, "sit", "down", "here"(touch my hand), "walk it" (climb a low a-frame) and "bang it"(bang the a-frame down). She is a work in progress but I am learning so much about how dogs learn and how to teach little bitty doggies. I love watching her brain process what i am asking or waiting for and for her to get the shaping game is so much fun! Now, if I could just get her recall more solid!!!!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Fergie and Deuce

Pud is now Fergie as we thought Fergie sounded better! Fergie is adapting very well to our home, much to my surprise. She is a very well adjusted dog, probably in large part to the staff and vet at Deer Creek. She potties in the house some but I don't mind as I haven't been paying as much close attention to her when she is in the house as I should. We took all the dogs to the show this weekend and I have to say, they all did really well. The only thing I didn't take into account was the fact that little dogs get cold and I didn't have her any little dog coats. I just wrapped her up in a blanket and she got warm and then put her in the ex-pen with the boys and they all snuggled. I was worried about her pulling out of her harness or her collar but she did great. I am still trying to get the hang of the stupid flexi and will be getting her a nice slip lead as soon as I find one i like. Deuce absolutely loves her and they play alot. They even tug and sometimes Deuce will lift her off of the ground! I am trying to get some good video of them playing together. How come dogs always know when you have the camera and stop? Anyway, I hope to weigh her weekly to see if we are taking the weight off. She is so active, I can't see how she won't loose it.

One great thing about having Fergie is the jealousy factor. If deuce doesn't want to do something, I just turn my back to him and play with her or take her into the training room (aka guest bedroom, only room with a door i can shut the other dogs out of. I love to see the look on his face when he gets ignored! It is almost like, "how dare you, I am the baby!". I will have to take her to agility class and see if this works there too. I haven't done much agility work with her as she is so fat but we could just run around like idiots and have fun when he leaves me. I am also going to try Ami's suggestions of doing all "its yer choice". I kind of started doing this the other night, taking him off leash and asking for a down instead of dragging him around by his leash. I will also go get some really smelly yummy fancy feast or something to have in my pocket so if he leaves and then comes back or makes good choices, he will get a lick. I was also reading a book yesterday about canine adolescence and it was talking about how they do the most baffling things during this period and this would probably be about the time he would go through this fun stage. I worked him a few times in the show over the practice jump and with joc and her pup for distractions and he did great! Great drive, great tugging, great attitude, so still wondering what that piece of the puzzle is that I am missing on thursday nights.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I know this is called the puppy blog but I thought I would let you in on a new "puppy" that has entered my life. Her name is PUD. She was a stray that a older lady took in and now that lady has had to be put in a nursing home and Pud is homeless. Pud has been living with the local vet at his office since September. It just so happened that I had been recently thinking very hard about getting a smaller dog. My weakness is smaller dogs because I have always had big dogs so I have no clue how to train them really, whether it be for agility or for just everyday. Pud has alot of potential, but she also has alot of belly fat. Pud is going on a diet as is Deuce (vet gave us the official okay to step his calories back) and of course both tony and I so we are hoping to get the weight off of her and our dogs. She is a very busy dog and I look forward to having a new project. Deuce thinks she is wonderful and they slept together with me in the bed, much to tony's chagrin. We now have three dogs and a cat that sleep with us nightly. Tony was grumbling about getting a bigger bed but I don't think you can get anything bigger than a king size can you? So from time to time, you will probably get a Pud update on here too!

Monday, May 3, 2010

another piece of the puzzle

I am really confused now. SO, I teach beginners on monday nights and then after the class is over, we have open practice for anyone who wants to practice. I run miller on those nights and tony runs harley and I also run Deuce with lots of rewards. I take the course that Lori has set up (no numbers) and make up a course for the diehards to do. I try to make it fun and challenging. For example, tonight, Jan was getting ready for a NADAC weekend so we made a fun flowing course that didn't have weaves (but did have table and teeter, whoops). He needed contact practice so I wanted him to have as much contact work as possible. After she ran Mac through a couple of times, I ran Deuce through with stops along they way and rewards for good performances. It was an 18 obstacle course (except I didn't do the a-frame). He ran it with drive and enthusiausm like I only see on monday nights. So what is the difference? One difference is the whippet girls aren't there, which he is just going to have to get over. Another difference is that the other puppies aren't there for me to compare his performance to (yes, I am human and am competitive but should give it up, they are border collies, different ballgame). We aren't doing drill work either, but I am breaking down the courses fairly small, into four or so obstacle blocks with rewards. He did leave twice tonight to go see Harley, but both times when he did, I walked towards the car and he came running. I guess I am very puzzled as to what is going on. Very obviously, I am putting some unknown pressure on him. I have to figure this out, this is driving me crazy! I LOVED his running tonight!!! Great speed on contacts, great speed on jumps, wonderful turns. So what am I missing?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

i am a thinker too!

Okay so I have been thinking about Deuce's performance alot here lately. I am a big thinker too and i have been really trying to dissect what I can do better to improve his drive and performance. One of the things I am going to try which was suggested by my friend Cheryl who is also a dog trainer, is to hide when he disengages or get in my car and drive off. As long as there is someone to watch over him, next time he disengages from me, I am going to do this rather than call for him or hunt him down and drag him back to where we are working. Let's see how important the momma truly is to him! The other thing I am going to do is really reward alot, really break down performances. I was just listening to Susan Garrett's 2 of 30 podcast and it made so much sense to me! I do train alot but I do very short sessions so I am trying to make these short sessions even shorter. Today for example, I did weave channels in the morning with maybe 8 runs through them total (two just driving straight through, 2 with rears, two with lateral movement away from the poles, and two with fronts). All had him driving to the target with lots of cookies and lots of praise. We quit while we were ahead and did another set of 8 tonight. I also did some go overs with a very low jump and target and then took up the target and did a couple of go overs and turns. Again, I quit while I was ahead. For the most part, today I saw drive and enthusiasm, especially the last set of channel weaves we did. I have really been revving him up with restrained recalls and lots of ready, ready, ready instead of putting him into a position and then releasing him. I did have to put him into position to do the front crosses and he was a little slower. I thought I had been rewarding his position at the start but maybe not enough?

Another thing I am worried about right now is the amount of calories Deuce is taking in. We do alot of target work and lots of clicker work in a day so he is getting lots of extra kibble. I have not cut him back at feeding time as I wanted to let him grow until at least a year but I also don't want him too heavy. He hasn't gained any weight in 2 or so months, but I feel like he is getting so much food right now. I have tried incorporating tug into his training but I can tell he doesn't like it as much as food and with the issues I have been having with drive, would be afraid that would make it worse. I have been using his kibble as food since his stomach is so sensitive but I wonder if he needs something more yummy. This would probably be more calories though! I need to take him to my vet to see if he is ready to be cut back, if he is done growing. I can add in green beans or other low calorie foods if he isn't growing anymore. So much to think about!