Sunday, August 25, 2013
|Official Canine Good Citizens!|
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, 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
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!|
Sunday, March 31, 2013
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
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 old....you 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.
Monday, February 25, 2013
I had Shiner in all 4 Rally Trials and both conformation shows on Sunday in the Champion's class. Saturday morning in the first show we NQ'd pretty spectacularly. This was my first weekend in Rally, and (unsurprisingly) it turns out there's a lot I don't know! For instance, I didn't know you have to have a training collar with a detachable leash. I had my regular slip leads.
So I borrowed collars and leashes and with that first embarrassment done into the ring we went. Shiner was ALL OVER the place - zooming this way and that, and generally just being very overstimulated by everything going on. The second show was a lot better - we squeaked by with a 72 for the first leg of his URO1 title!
Sunday we gave it our best effort but neither show resulted in a qualifying score, though we got through the course together, gave it our best shot, and I'm super-proud of how hard my little dog went at his new sport. The conformation ring was a bust for us, but I hadn't planned on entering anyways, so there were no hopes there to thwart.
This dude is a year old and has not as yet had what I'd call a successful show career. Point of fact, last October he was being handled by a friend and had a mega freakout on the table. Since then, the table has been a real problem. Tibbs is a pretty sensitive guy in the first place, so my new goal is to desensitize him to manipulation by strangers, both on the ground and on a table. This fear of his could be a problem in more than one venue (veterinarians and groomers both use tables) - it's not just a dog show skill.
As far as how we did, Tibbs is still pretty leggy and apparently at the moment he's "high in the rear", something he should mature out of. We went Best of Winners in the first show on the second day. He didn't win any of his other shows, but he came a long way on his tabling issue, we had fun as a team, and he's one major closer to his championship.
G-money is nearly 7 years old and has just been my best buddy in all that time. Turns out being my best buddy is damn good training! G was the first dog I took in for all 4 trials, and the only American Mixed Breed competing. In my ongoing "Things I didn't know" issue, I NQ'd us by patting him after a good exercise. In the end that didn't matter. On the last sign, a Sit->Down->Sit, I cued him to come back up from his down into his sit. I looked at him. He looked at me. I could see it in his eyes: "Noooooope." To emphasize the degree of his nopeness, he then rolled over onto his back and had a nice long back scratch, got up, shook off, then looked at me like, "Whatcha gonna do?" We dragged ourselves out of the ring, metaphorical tail tucked between my legs.
After some revision of my strategy we went back in, and the next three trials knocked out a 94, a 90, and another 94 for Guinness' URO1 title. Go Guinness go! So very proud of him.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
The last time we went hiking I had some problems, namely with Tibbs. Since he's James' dog, that is as a rule the only person that can get through to him when he's off-leash in "WHOOOOOO!" mode. I was concerned about it, and the dogs hadn't had any exercise in a few days and I knew they'd be running around like crazy dogs for the first chunk of the hike.
The trail I prefer for running the crazies out of the dogs is off-leash friendly and well, well away from any major traffic of any kind, so it's a great place to really let them go. Provided they're smart enough not to fall off any cliffs, challenge any coyote packs, or chase the deer. Guinness has been hiking regularly since puppyhood and I may have done the littler dogs a disservice by not ensuring to hike them as much as I did with Guinness. But to be fair, when Guinness was a puppy I was a college student in rural Alabama - not much to do in Tuscaloosa except drink or go outside to play.
I let the dogs out of the car and away we went down the trail. Sure enough, totally unlistening bonkers dogs.
As a dog owner, I'm continually training the dogs, no matter where we are. I had brought a bag of training treats with me, and throughout the hike regularly recalled the dogs to me, gave them each a treat, and then released them to go back to running around. The idea here is to build a rock-solid recall that (in the dogs' minds) doesn't necessarily mean the cessation of fun times. Get back to me, collect your reward, and off you go.
|Whatever this was, it was really interesting.|
|Immediately pre-bolt. I had to put my camera away for the most part after this.|
I called and called. And called some more. No Shiner. As I was concerned by the fact he'd shot up the hill, I went off trail and scaled the hill, where the dog's owners handed him back over. I put him on his leash and we parted ways in the opposite direction. After letting the other hikers get out of ear and eyeshot, I took Shiner's leash back off and WHOOSH. He TOOK OFF down the trail after his dog friend. Again, I called and called and no return by Shiner. Guinness, Tibbs, and I made our way back up the trail to find him attempting to hump this dog, a pit bull mix. He absolutely refused to come - he had to be caught. I have not been so disappointed in him in a long time.
The entire rest of the hike, Shiner wore the leash of shame. The leash of shame essentially means - congratulations. We're in a huge offleash area, and you've proved you can't be trusted with that. In more trainery terms, the degree of distraction overwhelmed him and his motivation to check out that other dog was way higher than any reward I had available. So I had to remove something he wanted - his freedom. He had to walk behind Tibbs and Guinness. He basically hated life that entire walk back to the car.
We finished our walk as the sun was beginning to set, so I laid down the seats in the car so they could have the whole back to sprawl out and then headed home.
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Tibbs does conformation:
Friday, January 25, 2013
|Mr. Tibbs, at a year old|
|Guinness and his proteges|
|He's a very proud big brother.|
|He's also very tired. The last year wore him out.|
Friday, January 18, 2013
The Canine Good Citizenship test, for the unaware, is a program by the AKC open to all breeds of dog. It's more or less an obedience test based on the dogs ability to function in a real world environment. If you pass, you get a certificate and the title CGC to the end of the dog's name.
Taken from the AKC's website on CGC testing:
Test 1: Accepting a friendly strangerThis test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to approach it and speak to the handler in a natural, everyday situation. The evaluator walks up to the dog and handler and greets the handler in a friendly manner, ignoring the dog. The evaluator and handler shake hands and exchange pleasantries. The dog must show no sign of resentment or shyness, and must not break position or try to go to the evaluator.Test 2: Sitting politely for pettingThis test demonstrates that the dog will allow a friendly stranger to touch it while it is out with its handler. With the dog sitting at the handler's side, to begin the exercise, the evaluator pets the dog on the head and body. The handler may talk to his or her dog throughout the exercise. The dog may stand in place as it is petted. The dog must not show shyness or resentment.Test 3: Appearance and groomingThis practical test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it is clean and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (i.e., proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and in a natural manner, lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it and give encouragement throughout.Test 4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)This test demonstrates that the handler is in control of the dog. The dog may be on either side of the handler. The dog's position should leave no doubt that the dog is attentive to the handler and is responding to the handler's movements and changes of direction. The dog need not be perfectly aligned with the handler and need not sit when the handler stops. The evaluator may use a pre-plotted course or may direct the handler/dog team by issuing instructions or commands. In either case, there should be a right turn, left turn, and an about turn with at least one stop in between and another at the end. The handler may talk to the dog along the way, praise the dog, or give commands in a normal tone of voice. The handler may sit the dog at the halts if desired.Test 5: Walking through a crowdThis test demonstrates that the dog can move about politely in pedestrian traffic and is under control in public places. The dog and handler walk around and pass close to several people (at least three). The dog may show some interest in the strangers but should continue to walk with the handler, without evidence of over-exuberance, shyness or resentment. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise the dog throughout the test. The dog should not jump on people in the crowd or strain on the leash.Test 6: Sit and down on command and Staying in placeThis test demonstrates that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The dog must do sit AND down on command, then the owner chooses the position for leaving the dog in the stay. Prior to this test, the dog's leash is replaced with a line 20 feet long. The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to get the dog to sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's commands. The handler may not force the dog into position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward the length of the line, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.Test 7: Coming when calledThis test demonstrates that the dog will come when called by the handler. The handler will walk 10 feet from the dog, turn to face the dog, and call the dog. The handler may use encouragement to get the dog to come. Handlers may choose to tell dogs to "stay" or "wait" or they may simply walk away, giving no instructions to the dog.Test 8: Reaction to another dogThis test demonstrates that the dog can behave politely around other dogs. Two handlers and their dogs approach each other from a distance of about 20 feet, stop, shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and continue on for about 10 feet. The dogs should show no more than casual interest in each other. Neither dog should go to the other dog or its handler.Test 9: Reaction to distractionThis test demonstrates that the dog is confident at all times when faced with common distracting situations. The evaluator will select and present two distractions. Examples of distractions include dropping a chair, rolling a crate dolly past the dog, having a jogger run in front of the dog, or dropping a crutch or cane. The dog may express natural interest and curiosity and/or may appear slightly startled but should not panic, try to run away, show aggressiveness, or bark. The handler may talk to the dog and encourage or praise it throughout the exercise.Test 10: Supervised separationThis test demonstrates that a dog can be left with a trusted person, if necessary, and will maintain training and good manners. Evaluators are encouraged to say something like, "Would you like me to watch your dog?" and then take hold of the dog's leash. The owner will go out of sight for three minutes. The dog does not have to stay in position but should not continually bark, whine, or pace unnecessarily, or show anything stronger than mild agitation or nervousness. Evaluators may talk to the dog but should not engage in excessive talking, petting, or management attempts (e.g, "there, there, it's alright").
My concerns about this test are the reaction to distraction with the two terriers, and with all three, the reaction to another dog. Shiner and Tibbs are terriers and they want to approach literally EVERYTHING. Drop a chair, and they want to go sniff it.
The reaction to another dog test concerns me because the boys may want to play with the other dog (though this doesn't usually happen at dog shows). Guinness on the other hand can just be a bit snappy when he's on a leash - but again, this doesn't happen at dog shows. So if I can get all three of them in "Dog Show Brain," we should be able to pass the tests with flying colors. If not, we're possibly hosed on those two. The other ones I think we've got down provided the test is on a day the dogs aren't too overly wriggly.
So there it is. Goal set.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
On a recent walk, Shiner just started crying and shivering. I ended up shoving him in my jacket for a lot of the walk from there. So, yeah. Dog sweaters all around.
This isn't my first rodeo - I bought Guinness a jacket for the same reason a couple years ago. After stuffing the little dogs into the outfits, they looked like an advertisement for Ruffwear.
|Shiner was the only one willing to hold still.|
|Aaaand it's covered in grass.|
|That's Tibbs at a trot from the front.|
|I can't tell whether they like them or not.|
|Here's their Christmas card photo.|
|"So....clothes. Kinda weird."|
|Handsome gentlemen, Mr. Tibbs and Mr. Shiner Black.|
Sunday, January 13, 2013
James took Tibbs for a little daddy-doggy bonding hike, so I walked Shiner and Guinness to the elementary school near our house to run around in the field and do some training. With only two dogs, I decided to up the ante by doing what I call tandem training.
See, at home I only work with a single dog at a time about once a day or so - the rest of the time the dogs are expected to more or less work as a pack. For fun I've started doing what my nerd friends and I call "Dog-bending". This is where using voice commands and exaggerated hand movements I do obedience with all three dogs at the same time. Normally, it's just cycling through sit-down-stand-stays in the living room, but no one is rewarded until they're all in position - I want them to work as a team. It also adds distractions (which training in the house, are hard to come by).
So, back to the elementary school. After a free play period where we run around and act like crazy people, I brought them in. First we drilled sit-stays with large circles walked around them (it was wet and I have trouble getting thin-furred Shiner to down when it's cold and wet). We drilled sit-stays for a while, then recalls - Shiner beat Guinness across a field in a flat out sprint! They both ended with a beautiful finish for their cookies.
Then we did what I considered to be our hardest drills of the day. I down-stayed Guinness, then off-leash heeled Shiner in a big circle around him. We came up beside Guinness, I finished Shiner into a sit - and we got it! Cookies all around. Finally, I sit-stayed Shiner and Guinness, then called Guinness to sit in front, then come around behind me to my left and sit. Poor little Shiner could barely hold his little self in place, but he did it!
I feel like these tandem drills add a level of difficulty to our exercises. As we move into the later part of the month I'm going to TRY to train the "Honor" into Guinness and Shiner - meaning I can down-stay one dog, and he'll stay there while I go through multiple drills with another dog. I suspect at first this will require tying the dog in place. But when I train out of the house I like to take more than one dog, and it's just sort of hard to know where to put one when you're working with the other. Hence....tandem obedience.
I'm also going to be moving from clicking/rewarding each individual drill, to stringing together multiple drills and clicking for the complete set, eventually moving to clicking once for a whole trial, then removing the clicks altogether for actual trial-ready training. Slow and steady wins the dog-training race!
Thursday, January 10, 2013
|Tibbs has a really good "LOVE ME" face|
|Shiner's favorite sunny day activity is laying in a sunny patch|
|So here's Shiner stacking. It seems like I may be walking too close up to him, so he leans back. This one came out okay though.|
|This one's perfect, if he'd just stretch out a tad more in the back.|
|Here's Tibbs, handsome devil that he is. All the pictures of his flawless stacks didn't come out (ain't it just the way)|
|Another from the same stack - bring those feet in a tad and you've got it, buddy!|
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Shiner finished his confirmation championship despite my ridiculously novice handling at 9 months of age. I've started him on Rally Obedience, and we're working towards his first rally trial in February. There's also confirmation during that show and he's now eligible for the Champion's class. So if we could get a qualifying score in Rally and a win in confirmation, that would earn him a Total Dog - a pretty cool accomplishment!
Due to a variety of factors, at 1 year of age, Tibbs has never actually won a confirmation class. For one thing, on the mental level he's been a goofy baby longer than I anticipated, which means he's lost to dogs with more precision. He's taking a while to mature and has been, as I've had it described to me, "All legs" - so he's lost to faster maturing females and also his brother. I've also been handling Shiner, so Rachel (his breeder) has been handling him. According to the UKC, Tibbs currently has 10 points and no wins in competition so to say the least we have a bit of a ways to go.
Going forward I'll be handling Tibbs in shows and training him with more regularity so when we walk in the ring, we do it as a team. He's got the right stuff, we just need to bring it together.
Guinness has been trained within an inch of his life as long as I've had him. I've taken the necessary registration steps so he can compete, and will be going into Rally Novice this February alongside Shiner. Going off of our drilling, he's gonna do great! I'm really looking forward to the chance to show off our teamwork.
In a perfect world, I could show Tibbs in all 4 confirmation shows, Shiner in all 4 rally and confirmation, and Guinness in all 4 rally trials. The challenge comes here:
If I handle my two boys in the same show, they'll end up in the Best Male ring together, quite likely - and I want to handle both of them. So I don't think I can show them in all 4 shows each. But I definitely want Tibbs in all 4 confirmation shows so.....what to do, what to do.
Monday, January 7, 2013
I'm an avid cyclist and lifelong dog lover. I've made this blog as a place to pontificate of dog care and training, as well as track and showcase my accomplishments with my own dogs.
I am currently caretaker, trainer, nutritionist, and napping buddy to three dogs:
- Tibbs (technically the boyfriends dog but who's counting)
They all have pages up top of you'd like to learn more about them. Welcome! I hope you enjoy long rambling articles on things you could quite likely just as easily google.