Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shiner & Guinness, CGC

Hooray for goals accomplished! Earlier this year I set out to do the CGC test with my two dogs, and boy howdy, we done done it!

Official Canine Good Citizens!
I've been looking at taking the test for a while, but wasn't sure I could pass it for a variety of reasons. So all summer, I've been "drilling" the dogs in the various exercises without actually doing any formal training. For instance, I've been making a real point of meeting and shaking hands with other leashed, polite dog owners as practice for the "reaction to another dog" exercise. I've been emphasizing the loose-leash walking. And so on.

Many thanks to the Big D Hunting Retriever Club, who hosted this evaluation during their health clinic.


Guinness' particular weak spot is reactivity with other dogs, particularly when he's leashed. As I was walking him out to the car to leave for this test, a large dog charged us from across the street. Breaking up a near-dog fight is not a promising way to kick the day off when you have a trial of any kind, let alone one where you're about to do a behavior test. We got to the test, and sure enough, Guinness was ready to rip the face off any dog that made the mistake of getting within 3 feet of him. I pulled out my secret weapon - his brush. Guinness is a huge attention whore and loves to be brushed, so I sat and just brushed him until he was a relaxed puddle of fur sprawled out on the concrete. We did some warmup obedience drills to get him ready, then did the classic dog show "hurry up and wait."

Now, for some reason, every time we have an obedience trial of any kind, Guinness acts kind of obstinate through the first round. Today's example was refusing to sit properly - every time I'd cue a "Sit!" he'd just lay down. Doesn't count, buddy. But we got one good sit, and I just let him sack out through the rest of the test - the more relaxed his body language, the better. The "meeting another dog" test was passed with flying colors, and 1 more exercise later, I can call myself the proud owner of an official Canine Good Citizen!


On to Shiner. Shiner's issues are basically the exact opposite of Guinness'. He is insanely friendly to everyone, but very easily overstimulated and hard to keep focused. We call it his "Terrier Brain." I pulled my bouncing, overly excitable dog out of his crate, watered him, then literally just ran up and down the sidewalk a few times to get the kinks out of his body and get him focused on my end of the leash. The biggest thing I reinforce Shiner for is actually paying attention to me, instead of everything around him.

We walked into the test, where Wiggle Butt was out in force. "OOH WHATS THAT SMELL!" "WOW THE FLOOR IS SLIPPERY!" "WHO'S THIS LADY, YAAAAY I GET TO SAY HI!" I kept him calm as possible, informed him that jumping was inappropriate, and he pretty much bounced his way through the whole test, alternating between working his moves and trying to keep it together. But he sailed right through all ten exercises on his first try, no repeats! What a good boy!

I gave them a celebratory half of a hotdog each, and took a picture to celebrate their accomplishments.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shiner the shoulder dog

Silly doggyWhat a jokesterKissesMom, isshot!Zzzzz.....

Shiner the shoulder dog, a set on Flickr.

Shiner's favorite spot in the whole world is the top of the couch right next to my shoulder. I've started taking a picture of it every day, and am going to continue doing so as long as he keeps doing it and I remember. Here's our relaxation faces from the last week!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

CH Tibbsy!

About a month back, Tibbs and I went to yet another show to knock down the final leg towards his championship.  We bathed.  We brushed.  We did nails.  We pep talked.  And off we went.

Now, over the last year I feel I've gotten to know a lot of the folks in the dog show world pretty well - they've taught me more about handling than I knew there was to know.  They've taught me to table stack and together we've worked through Tibbs' fear of the Scary Table.  And whaddaya know, it's paid off!

I've added the specific accomplishments to Mr. Tibbs' page, but to quickly list them here, he went Best Male in both Sunday shows, finishing his Championship in style!  Judge comments included, "This dog has a really nice ass!"  He most certainly does.

Look at how chuffed he is!
Whenever we have money we'll buy a formal New Champion picture, but I took this after we got home from the show.  I think he looks pretty proud of himself.  I know I'm proud of how we've developed as a team.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Just Keep Swimming!

Today Tibbs and I ventured to the North American Coton Association dog show in Hutton, TX. For those not familiar, Tibbs' show record contains a serious on the table freak out which preceded 2 shows of working through what developed into a pretty decent fear of the table examination. He took a Best of Winners last month but prior consistently got beaten (mostly by his more rapidly maturing siblings).  As of last month (now that Shiner's Championship is finished), I've taken over handling Tibbs and we're starting to gain some momentum.

We got to the show early today and received some handling and stacking advice from the lovely Kathleen Chance. The first show we went in the ring and Mr. Tibbs is in BUSINESS, my friends. While we didn't win anything, he presented himself beautifully, including on the table.  I am super-proud of him for conquering his fear!

The second show got started around 1, and since this was a smaller show (Easter weekend and all) things were moving along briskly. That being said, there was a good amount of competition in the Rat Terrier classes, which is always exciting but also a little daunting. In we went, and up onto the table. I got two good tailings out if him, he stacked like a statue, and gaited as well as I can ask. Bar the occasional leap for food.  He was awarded Best Male by judge Irma Szabo Fertl! Go Tibbs!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Terrible Teens

You know, I don't know why they call it the terrible twos.  When my younger dogs were puppies my biggest concerns were making sure they were housebroken and teaching them the canine equivalent of their ABCs.  While exhausting I've got to say that the early puppy period has nothing on the "Teenage" years for trying your allotment of dog-focused patience.

As I mentioned in a few posts, the two terriers are just over a year old and RIGHT in the middle of their "teenage" years.  It's a simple fact that the majority of pets surrendered to animal shelters are between the ages of 7 months and 2 years, and about half of those aren't neutered.  It's something I've thought about in depth as I'm bringing these guys through that very period of time as a pair of unneutered males.

I think a big part of the cause of dogs being surrendered (aside from crappy owners) is that at a year think you're done.  They're not a puppy anymore, usually they've been through at least a puppy class and there you are with your dog.  Then they hit a certain point and seem to either forget or no longer care about a single thing they've learned in the last year.  The reason isn't because they're a bad dog, it's because they're not yet a full-grown dog.  A year is not the end of development for a dog by any stretch - it generally takes 2 years at the MINIMUM before a dog is an adult physiologically as well as mentally.

Which brings me around to my boys.  Shiner and Tibbs are both spending a lot of time on socialization right now, particularly at dog parks as I am trying to desensitize them to the concept of novel people and dogs.  Additionally, desensitizing their reaction to potentially tense situations, loud noises, other dogs scuffling, and so on because at this age their reactivity is very high.  I have the sweetest little puppies in the world right up until one of them fixates on another dog (often one younger than them), and decides the world will not be right until they have licked or humped that dog for a good period of time.  Now, while in the canine world this is normal behavior, people are incredibly touchy about this kind of thing.  So it can be tough.  I'm trying to simultaneously allow my dogs to age out of this phase, ensure they get sufficient socialization, let them run around and have fun, teach appropriate boundaries, and avoid conflicts with other dog owners while we get through it.  Point of fact, a lady referred to Shiner as "vicious" at the park (though clearly this woman has never seen a REAL dog fight, rather than just a kerfluffle that's 90% noise).

The hardest thing to remember at those times is that it IS a phase and they WILL age out of it - in fact, Guinness the Perfect Gentleman had a pretty prolonged teenaged period.  He chased inappropriately, played too hard, snapped to easily, and thoroughly enjoyed destroying anything he could get his jaws around.  But with time and patience and a lot of work, he aged out of it and turned into the dog we all know and love today.  The tough part is the persistence to get there.