'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Expanding Her Horizons.

Today we took Lola to visit my mum's friend's house. It's about a forty minute drive each way there on the motorway, and on the way she threw up twice (using up two of the three towels I'd brought, urgh). She was also extremely shy when we got there; the stress of being on a motorway for only the second time, being on the longest drive we've done so far and being in a new house with strange new people all resulted in a whiny, clingy dog.

She slept on me for an hour or so, and when she awoke I took her outside to go to the toilet and explore. We went to the Waterloo Road set (a school roughly a minute's walk from Doreen's) and I snapped a couple of shots of Lola exploring the gates outside the set, and the graffiti-covered buildings beside it. When we returned, Lola was more awake and lively and snuffled around the house, before making friends with her 'uncle Dek' as he was feeding her little bits of the crisps he was eating. Usually, I don't allow the puppy to be handfed by people who are eating, but her awkward shyness with strangers meant that I wasn't bothered: if she was happy to take food from Derek, that was good enough for me. She even did start begging for food from him, sitting about half a metre away and giving him her laser eyes, to no avail.

When a couple of old dog toys were brought out, L fell in love with a pig that was a little bigger than her. She ragged it around, bit it, pounced on it, fled from it in a huge circle and then bounced back to bite it, and so on. Even a squeaky ball couldn't distract her attention for long from her beloved pig: I'll have to get her one soon.

By the time we arrived home (without any sick on the way back, even though we stopped for twenty minutes to pick up some Dominos pizza) Lola was tuckered out... sleeping for all of an hour before returning to her usual 'play with me!' energy with poor old sleepy Jess.

I'm glad to be back home, though, and not have to watch L with beady eyes every second she's on the floor.

Monday, 27 December 2010

New Collar.

Pink Inspire collar by Scrufts, medium size.

Establishing the Basics.

Establishing the Basics from Sarah Fisher and Marie Miller's 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog (pages 40 to 51).

1) Use an indoor kennel: p40-41.
a. 'A dog should also see the indoor kennel as his safe space where good things happen, not a prison where he is dumped when his owner seems angry with him for some inexplicable reason (dogs don't always understand our logic, see pp. 12-13). Ensure that he always has access to water when he is in his crate.'
b. 'When your dog has been active and is becoming tired, encourage him into the kennel with a stuffed Kong or chew toy but leave the door ajar. At this stage the only place you should give him exciting things to chew is in the indoor kennel. ... When your dog is happy to go into the kennel, begin to close the door to confine him for short periods. Make sure he has exciting things to chew in the indoor kennel.'
> Despite having been crated as a puppy, Lola really doesn't understand or like her crate at all. We're going back to Crating 101 at the moment.

2) Provide effective housetraining: p42.
a. 'Puppies usually need to relieve themselves when they wake up, after they have eaten and after (or during) an exciting game. Watch for signs of circling or sniffing. Quickly and calmly take him outside and stay neutral so you don't distract him. Give a tasty reward when your pup toilets in the right place. When he begins to understand why he has been taken out, attach a cue word (see p.32) quietly as he is relieving himself.'
> I already take her out very frequently, following this. Irritatingly, she doesn't have much of a pattern when she's going to have an accident indoors; but she's started to alert me by looking at me and then heading toward or even scratching the kitchen door, so that's something. If she's way over-excited during play, she forgets though, so I have to remember to take her out for her.

3) Follow a sensible feeding regime: p43.
a. 'Decide on a good diet, put the food down and leave it for 10 minutes. If there is anything left in the bowl, clear it away and do not offer anything else until the next mealtime. Fussy eating habits tend to develop very quickly if you constantly offer alternatives.'
> We already do this; the girls get what they're given, and if they don't want to eat it (something that's never happened outside of J being ill, occasionally) then that's that until the next time.

4) Cultivate good food manners: p44.
a. 'Dogs need to learn how to be polite and confident around both food and the food bowl and this can be done in a kind and motivational way using clicker training.'
> At the moment, I really need to get on with this. Not with Jess--she's used to behaving well for her food, and we even had to once given up on making her 'wait' whilst the bowl went down, because eventually, a few years ago, we got to the point where she would not eat from her bowl unless you were standing in her vicinity and repeatedly told her to 'go on'. But teaching Lola to wait--teaching her some ever-so-helpful self control--would be a brilliant idea.

5) Teach food bowl confidence: p45.
a. '...it is important to encourage your dog to feel confident about humans being near his food bowl while he is eating. A simple and effective way to do this is to add tasty tidbits to the bowl while your dog is eating. It is then potentially rewarding for people to be near the food bowl.'
> I already do this with both of my girls - as a result, neither minds me touching them when eating extremely high value foodstuffs (e.g. tripe, raw bones), though I don't take bones and such away from them without ever giving them something in exchange. There's just no reason to do so; it's cruel and promotes food guarding.

6) Ensure appropriate eating from the hand: p46.
a. 'Many dogs learn to grab food from the hand, which is both unpleasant and painful. It makes good sense to teach your dog how to be confident and gentle when taking food offered by hand; even if he has already learned the art of snatch and grab, you can still teach him better manners using this exercise.'
b. '1. With your palm facing up, trap a piece of food under your thumb and offer it to your dog. 2. If your dog tries to grab it, keep your hand and especially your thumb very still and release only when he slows down and softens his mouth to take it.'
> This should be really helpful for my savage little beast. I've been doing something similiar--offering a treat, but curling my fingers back around it if she tried to snatch--and that seems to be working, but maybe holding tightly under the thumb would send her a clearer signal.

7) Use effective rewards: p47.
a. 'Different dogs value rewards in differrent ways. Some love to work for food, while others prefer to work for a game with a specific toy; some may enjoy both equally. And then, of course, there is also verbal praise and physical contact.'
b. 'Grade the value of treats that you give to your dog. ... Find out which of his toys your dog rates the highest and vary the toys you use when working with him to keep him interested.'
c. 'The most important thing to remember is that a reward needs to be just that - a real reward for the dog, and therefore must be appropriate for the environment that he is in at the time and for the precise moment that you want him to respond.'
> This is something I need to work on; I really ought to make a list and scale Lola's reinforcers, from the highest (e.g. exciting chase-play, cheese, chicken) to the lowest (e.g. biscuits from her daily meals), and start working with her from that.

8) Train your voice: p48.
a. 'Dogs have a very acute sense of hearing and can pick up a variety of pitches and sounds. Like people, they respond well to praise and an interesting, well-paced speech pattern. They will be far more engaged and keener to learn if the person that is working with them uses their voice effectively.'
b. 'Many owners fall in to the trap of either talking too much or not praising enough when teaching their dog new skills. A weak, flat or monotone voice, or gruff, short commands will do little to motivate your dog and a terse attitude can cause a dog to withdraw and become aloof or depressed. At the other end of the scale, a permanently excited, squeaky, high-pitched voice can over-arouse or confuse a dog.'
> I do quite well working with the dogs with my voice, but I'd like to get better at making minute vocal adjustments to further help us. At the moment, I tend to lean toward over-praising in the early stages of working on something, which can be confusing, and I also chatter inanely to the dogs throughout the day. I'd like to cut back on the useless chat (though not stop talking to/at my girls altogether).

9) Work on your posture and hand signals: p49.
a. 'Dogs communicate primarily with body language so it is often easier for them to learn visual cues, which can then be paired with verbal cues.'
b. 'When training your dog by encouraging him to use his initiative and perform a behaviour of his own free will (free-shaping), it can be helpful if you sit. This way you are less likely to lean or shuffle or involuntarily give clues; all of which may distract him. It also helps him to know the only 'clues or hints' he will get will come with your clicks and treats as he works towards the goal behaviour.'
> Sticking to the same cues? Controlling my posture? Not waving my hands around for any damn reason? Yeah, I need to work on this, badly.

10) Use bodywraps and t-shirts: p50-51.
a. 'This is not about dressing up your dog as a fashion accessory. Both bodywraps and T-shirts have practical uses and can provide an important first step for service puppies that go into freeze (see p.32) when they first wear a puppy coat or body harness, and for dogs that are noise-sensitive.'
b. 'Putting a T-shirt or bodywrap on a timid dog can help him to feel less shy and can help a bouncy dog to settle and become focused on what he is being asked to do. They can also help dogs to overcome a fear of being confined or touched. Giving a dog sensory input with T-shirts or a stretchy elastic bodywrap can also help to reduce over-excitability when travelling in a car...'
> I'd like to use the relaxating, step-by-step methods outlined in the book to help Lola appreciate her coat more. At the moment, she fights like the devil to get it off/away, making it incredibly difficult to put it on if she's wide awake and bouncy. I might also purchase some secondhand jumpers or t-shirts from a charity shop, and sew-adjust to the right sizes, to suit her now as a temporary measure (rather than buying an expensive T-shirt that she will grow out of within the month).

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Christmas Fun, and Sledging Horror.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the girls didn't go on a walk. Lola came with us to my grandparents' house on Christmas Eve for a couple of hours, and was happy enough to sleep for the rest of the day when we returned after badgering their wimp of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to play. I was pleased to see Lola stick up for herself when Poppy growled at her--the spunky, confident attitude is why I love terriers, and my shy little pup is starting to mature into a more mature older pup, now she's three months old (as of the Eve!). Yesterday, I was just being lazy: I spent the day in nice soft pyjamas, as is my tradition, and the girls seemed happy enough tearing into their presents (assorted squeaky toys, a huge tennis ball that J can barely fit in her mouth, an amazingly strong tugger, etc) and playing with them and each other.

But oh god, I suffered for my laziness before I walked them today. Curse the idle bones. They were both hyper--three month old pup and nearly eleven year old bitch alike--and frantically wrestling and growl/barking at each other from waking for real at about eleven until I finally got round to walking them at about half two. And they were off! Lola usually bounces up and leaps at Jess' face for only a minute or so while on-lead when we first set off, but today she was leaping and bouncing (and Jess was pulling like a freight train) for about five minutes. God, that wasn't fun. We're definitely going to have to start loose-lead walking in earnest soon.

Both jetted off as soon as they were let off-lead, though Jess, being a pain as usual, decided that trying to get into someone's wheely bin was more fun than running about thirty seconds after being let off (while Lola was--really nicely!--greeting an absolutely HUGE black lab dog). They played, ran, etc, until Lola got tired about ten minutes in and just clung to my back leg, as usual.

Whilst Jess was sniffing an extremely exciting smell by a tree, we headed onto the snow-covered path on the park we go to. At the same time, a girl on a sledge was pelting down toward us. Lola took one look at her, backed away a step or so, and then whipped around and fled--down snowy stairs (that she would usually take at least twenty seconds to get down; she cleared them in about five), and across the arena. I managed to get her to stop by blowing my whistle, but she would not come back toward me while the younger girl was still stood beside me, even though the sledge was now not in use. The girl was laughing, and I was half amused and half exasperated. I had to crouch and call L with real enthusiasm to make her charge back in my direction.

I rewarded her for returning (and Jess, too, got a reward, as she'd come back to me at the sound of the whistle) and then again when we passed the sledge--she was showing much less stress, and that was better than nothing, so she got a tiny bit of doggy chocolate treat after we passed the scary sledge. Her stress was still there, though: ears back, head lowered, walking slower and in a curve around the Terrifying Sledge. Poor baby. There's not even much I can do to help with sledges: unless we have any more snow, there won't be any around in a week's time once the sun gets out, and I don't own a sledge. I might see if someone tomorrow will let me borrow their sledge for ten minutes while we're out, to c/t for Lola touching (or just calmly going near) the sledge so that it becomes less of an awful thing.

Jess' collar came on Christmas Eve, too. It's beautiful - and despite her stupidly sized neck, fits her fine once adjusted. I need to get a photo of it on her, but the collar itself can be seen on the Scrufts site here. (It's the Pink Inspire collar, at the bottom of the four.)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Tellington TTouches.

Photo from May 2010.

Right now, I'm reading Sarah Fisher and Marie Miller's 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog. There's a section in it on something I've never heard of before--the Tellington TTouch (or just TTouch):

"TTouch is a training system in its own right; it also blends well with other techniques. The groundwork and bodywork exercises add variety to training and improve balance, co-ordination and self-control.

The benefits of TTouch are many. It helps to reduce unwanted behaviours including leash pulling, noise sensitivity and phobia, excessive barking and reactive behaviour towards humans and other animals. It reduces strss in dogs that live in kennels. Dogs that experience TTouch show a marked improvement in concentration and an increased willingness and ability to learn.

TTouches work on the nervous system and therefore require relatively little pressure to be effective. To convey a sense of the amount of pressure that is appropriate when doing them, we use a system of numbers from one to ten. Place your thumb lightly on your cheek and rest your fingertips on your cheekbone. As lightly as possible, move the skin over your cheekbone without rubbing so that you can barely feel the bone. This is a one pressure. Repeat on your forearm, making sure there is no indentation on the skin. Moving the skin over the cheekbone with a little more pressure so that you can just feel the bone gives you a three pressure. When using a three pressure on the forearm you should notice a slight indentation.

Ear Work
1. With your dog sitting or standing calmly by your side hold his ear gently but firmly and stroke it from the base right out ot the tip.
2. Move the position of your hand each time you stroke to ensure that the whole ear is covered. Work gently but with intent. If you are too tentative you may make your dog nervous, particularly if he is a little ear-shy.
3. There is a 'shock point' on the tip of the ear, which can be worked by making circular movements with the finger and thumb. This is beneficial for dogs that have had a traumatic experience, have cold tips to their ears and/or are habitually nervous.

Clouded Leopard
The Clouded Leopard is the foundation for all the circular TTouches. . . . Clouded Leopard TTouches are most commonly used with a pressure ranging from two to three, depending on the preference of the dog and the area on which you are working.
1. Visualize a watch face on your dog's body, make it about 1cm (1/2in) in diameter with six o'clock being the lowest point. With one hand lightly holding the leash, supporting the collar, or resting on your dog's body, place the fingers of your other hand at six on your imaginary watch face.
2. With your fingers in a softly curved position, like a paw, push the skin around the clock clockwise, until you have made just one-and-a-quarter circles. Maintain an even pressure all the way round, on past six until you reach eight. At eight, pause for a second and then move to another spot and repeat.
3. Ensure your fingers are gently pushing the skin rather than sliding over the hair. Check the dog is relaxed before moving on to another spot. You can do the Clouded Leopard TTouch over the whole dog, altering your hand position where necessary around the contours of the body.
4. Remember to breathe. Holding your breath stiffens your body and affecs the TTouch.

Mouth Work
Working around your dog's muzzle is an excellent way of helping him to learn. Mouth work helps to reduce excessive barking and oversensitivity and improves focus.
1. Stand beside your dog's shoulder or sit on a chair with your dog sitting down or standing, but importantly facing away from you. If he turns round to face you, stop immediately.
2. Support your dog's head with one hand and stroke his muzzle and sides of the face with the back of your other hand.
3. If your dog is nervous you can start by using a different texture such as a soft paintburhs or sheepskin mitt.
4. If your dog is happy, continue with a Clouded Leopard TTouch. Work around the jaw muscles and move the upper lip in a circular motion.
5. You can then slide a fingertip under the lip and rub it gently along the gum. Wet your fingers if the dog is dry in the mouth.
6. If your dog is happy, work both gums. Switch hands and work the other side of the mouth.

This is a great TTouch for warming up and cooling down your dog before and after energetic or competitive work. It can also be used for accessing areas on your dog's body that may be overly sensitive to contact.
1. Stand to the side of your dog - he can be standing or sitting. Rest your fingers on his shoulders and zigzag your hand along his back, spreading your fingers apart as you move your hand away from you and drawing your fingers back together as your hand moves back toward you.
2. Keep the contact light but with enough pressure to ensure that you are not tickling.
3. Switch sides and repeat the exercise."

> The above is taken from various sections of pages 35 to 38 of 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog by Sarah Fisher & Marie Miller (David & Charles Limited, 2008).

Puppy Training Class #3.

Bit late posting this, but I forgot to write it up. Oops. This is the fourth class of ten technically, but the third now that I've attended. And, now, the second that Lola has been to without being sick. Whoo! It looks like she's over her car sickness now, as she's been in five trips since the last time she was ill.

Lola enjoyed herself immensely, as usual. We were practising recall (all dogs, including L, came immediately upon being called or whistled; Lola only veered from the beaten path by turning and looking to the chair I'd been sat on, and I had to call her name to let her know where I was before she came charging over to me), sit/stays (which we haven't done before, and quite frankly we suck at them) and heelwork.

Urgh, the heelwork. Some aspects of the class really annoy me. When your puppy pulls, the trainer said, quickly walk backwards, yanking the dog's lead in a multitude of short, sharp bursts. That's not a correction though: that is just cruel. Apparently doing this would only hit the muscle on the back of the dog's neck, but try telling that to Cerys, who had a tucked head, was yawning and was frantically licking her lips even as her tail hesitantly wagged. Wagging tail or not, she obviously wasn't happy - and when the trainer bent to stroke and praise her, Cerys sank to the floor over her feet in pathetic, giddy relief. It was horrible to watch.

We also didn't let the dogs off, due to the extreme coldness in the class area - its a church, and so the heating has to be on constantly to keep the chill off the air. People were obviously itching to leave though, and so we were allowed to leave ten minutes early. We haven't got another lesson until Jan 10th, and our homework for the next couple of weeks is: heelwork (not a problem for L--she walks great to heel, without needing extremely harsh aversive corrections), recall from a distance, sit/stays for a minute and control at the door. I'm not using the whole 'slam the door in your dog's face hurr because the alpha goes through first lol!' approach to control at the door, but rather NILIF - if the dogs don't sit and wait, they don't get to go through the door, and they have to wait until released to continue through.

Some of the dogs at the class are so adorable. The Springer Spaniel Molly, for instance, is the cutest and most obedient little thing - and you can tell the bond between her and her family is genuine and based on love and trust, not punishment and cruel dominance theory.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Walking on Ice.

Today, despite the tiny flurry of snow we had this morning, the sun has been out and steadily melting the snow that we still have. That's not a good thing though, as on both of the two walks we've had so far today, I slipped and almost fell in the middle of roads. Multiple times on both walks. It's getting ridiculous now--I want the snow gone, but I don't want this ice, and I kind of want another white Christmas.

The dogs still don't like the snow much. Lola has a new coat now, lined with fake sheep wool, and although she's not a fan of how strangely it makes her walk (being as its an awkward size; she's just over 2.5kg, and yet the coat that she needs, thanks to her long back, was about a ten inch--so it fits along her back, and is too big around her neck and waist) I think she likes the extra protection from the cold. She's been much more outgoing on walks now, chasing Jess and greeting other dogs... and skirting people, generally. She's not fearful, just shy; and no, mate, it doesn't help when you swoop down and try to pick my puppy up. People can be ridiculous.

At the moment, we do two walks each day. One is at about twelve or one in the afternoon, and I take both dogs out; this gives them both exercise (with Jess naturally needing less anyway, being as she is almost eleven years old) and keeps them asleep for a couple of hours when we return home. The second walk is just Lola, at about three or four (depending on how awake she is; it's mean to drag a sleeping puppy out into the cold), to let her meet and greet other dogs away from grumpy ol' Jess, and to give her more exercise so she doesn't pester Jess to play quite so much.

On the first walk of today, Jess decided that, hey, if kids are kicking a ball around then they obviously are trying to kick it to her. They just didn't know it yet. She snatched the ball, which I had to quickly get back off of her before her strong grip punctured it, and then I handed the slobber-covered thing back to the little boy who'd been playing with it. Jess got the message and left it alone after that, whilst Lola trailed behind and watched as usual.

There were more dogs out on the second walk, and Lola got to meet and greet, in order: a slightly overweight Jack Russell Terrier (with a Staffie's head--that was weird) called Tiny; Peppy or Peppe, a Staffie-something cross that J knows and occasionally plays with; a German Shepherd-like dog, Shiba, who had been playing with Peppy and had gotten Lola's interest (though of course, she was slightly bemused when both were sniffing at her - but no yelping or barking, so that was a plus); and then a pair of Patterdale Terriers, one on-lead that I didn't catch the name of and another off-lead that seemed more friendly and was called Jake. She was respectful of the other dogs' spaces, though she did try to play with Tiny (chasing and bowing, like she does with Jess) as Tiny's owner tried to walk on past us, and immediately returned to me each and every time I blew my whistle, no matter how exciting the other thing was.

I could definitely get used to this whole obedience thing.

Wordless Wednesday.

Friday, 17 December 2010


Today at twelve, I headed out with Jess and Lola to my friend Daisy's - where I got L from originally. There's still three of the litter there at the moment (the one they're keeping, Rocky; one that's going tomorrow, Ness (one of only three girls, including Lola); and one that's going sometime after Christmas or the New Year, Stimpy), and all were excited to see L.

However, I don't think they remembered her as their sister... as the boys spent about an hour and a half or so trying to hump her in-between wrestling and playing biteyface.

We stayed until just after four. Lola was tuckered after playing with the others, but refused to sleep in their crate with them - instead, she wandered around, snoozed next to me for a moment while I ate, and then settled in on my lap at threeish. Jess enjoyed getting (see: demanding) attention from various people, and especially Daisy's mum. She spent a good twenty minutes on her back next to Eileen, begging to have her stomach rubbed, and was happily obliged.

When we got home (after no car sickness on the way back, whoo!) the girls flopped down in front of the heater, snuggled up together, and didn't move again for almost two hours.

First Walk.

On Tuesday at 12pm, Lola had her second lot of injections. She was supposed to stay in for another two weeks, and I agreed vaguely, nodding along at the right moments to the vetinarian.

On Wednesday afternoon, she had her first brief walk - five minutes on a field where dogs aren't supposed to go, really. She was on-lead to give her the experience of walking, walking on-lead and walking on-grass. She seemed to enjoy it.

Yesterday, however, she had her first real walk--about fifty minutes of trawling across Alkies park. Jess & Jenny's Cairn terrier, Millie, shot off as usual, only returning for their infrequently disposed treats. Lola, on the other hand, stuck behind my leg the entire time. She was off-lead but clipped to a dragging long lead, so that if she was startled or over-excited by something, I could grab or stand on the lead to stop her bolting to or from whatever it was. I didn't want her chasing a cat into the road, or running from a big dog, etc.

However, she did great! She ignored the five or so dogs that we saw out (even though Jess, whilst on-lead around a Dalmatian (she's had trouble with them recently, perhaps because they're so big & bouncy), had devolved into a grumbling, lunging mass at the end of her lead), and literally stuck to me like glue. In order to practice her whistle-recall, I actually had to run away from her several times and whistle as she was running after me. Argh.

We got back, and the dogs all died in the living room, in various states of exhaustion.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Puppy Training Class #2.

Class 3 of ten, yeah, but it's only the second one I've been to.

First thing, before we went to the puppy class, me and Lola spent 20 minutes at Jenny's, where Lola played (amazingly, for her; she came out of her shell really fast) with Millie, and even approached Jenny's dad for food tidbits. Her and Millie seem quite matched on energy levels; they ran around chasing each other for five minutes or so, though neither seemed entirely sure about the other yet. That'll come in time, though.

On the way to the puppy training class, Lola didn't throw up! I'd brought two towels & a carrier bag to put any sick-covered ones in (after last time having sick on my knee; what a great first impression), and they were unneeded; not only did L not be sick on the way in, neither did she be sick on the car ride back. It's about a twenty minute trip either way, so that was really good!

At the training class, L rekindled her love with Bedlington Terrier Lennox by trying to play biteyface with him. Needless to say, we sat at the other side of the room from Lennox & his trainer so as not to have the pups constantly trying to play. Instead, she was trying to play with Springer Spaniel Molly, who looked half alarmed and half curious; Molly's a little dog-shy, so Lola leaping at her face was possibly not the best option that my little pup could have chosen.

We were doing recall & manners at this session. For recall, we each took turns standing at one side of the room (with the other dogs on the other sides between us and our dogs--on lead and held by the trainer, Jean) and then called our dogs and commanded to come here! Lola, despite *no* training on this, actually did quite well; she came skittering over to me immediately, curious to see why I was crouched down and calling her, haha.

After recall practice, we did manners at the door and gate. This was... not something I was at all impressed with. Several of the dogs (Cerys the Welsh Springer Spaniel, Alfie the Tibetan Terrier and Lennox the Bedlington Terrier) were taken to a door in the room, with the intention being that they learned not to go through a door before the trainer. Jean would stand there - and then slam the door in the dog's face if it dared to move forward. One dog caught a paw and yelped. I was not at all happy--the explaining of this was not for a dog to calmly walk through a door or gate, under control of the handler, but rather that the dog learn to let the 'alpha' go through first--but this is the only training class in the area, soooo. Lola doesn't get picked for these things because she's so cute and tiny, but I won't be practising these door manners. I'll be using R+ at home over the next week, treating & commanding for going through doors, to do the same thing without hurting my dog.

Then, we had to practice/show off our dog's ability to sit beside us and stay whilst we stood up, motionless. There were two problems with this for me. Firstly, because L is so young (she's only had her second injections today), she hasn't been anywhere but our house really, so her commands are not proofed enough for this situation. Secondly, again because of Lola's age/size, most of our training still revolves around me being crouched or knelt when asking her to sit or down, when I had to stand up and say the command she just looked at me askance. This all basically resulted in me standing there, foolish (we couldn't use treat lures, had to just get the dogs to do it), and repeating myself to try and get Lola to a) not pay attention to the other dogs, b) sit, and c) stay sitting. She popped into a sit once, and I heavily praised/stroked for it, but she popped up again a few seconds later and that was that.

Eurgh, so annoying.

After class finished (not long after that!), Lola and Lennox were able to play for five minutes on-lead - leaping up at each other, Lola tumbling over, biteyface fun, etc. Next week, we get to let the dogs (except Poppy, the fear-aggressive older Daschund) off lead to play for 5-10 minutes at the end of the class, and I'm really looking forward to that! I just wish they'd stop with all the dominance shit, and that they'd also tell us what we'd be doing before we got there; it's not nice arriving and learning your dog should have a reliable recall by now. Humph.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Gwen Bailey - Clever Dog!

This was a pretty good book with some interesting ideas for tricks to train! Here are the ones I'm most wanting to teach to my girls:

1) The Retrieve: Jess already knows 'fetch', but is quite resistant to the idea of learning names for things. So I'm using shaping (as outlined in the book) to teach 'fetch' for individual items with Lola. We're currently shaping a mouth-touch to a ball, and when she starts picking it up I'll cue it for 'ball', rather than a generic 'fetch.'
2) Back Up: This is annother that J knows, cued as both 'back up' and 'back away' - aka, I was stupid and inconsistent when teaching it, and now I have to use both interchangably. I'll definitely try the slow-walk prompt, as outlined in the book, towards Lola to teach her though; it took weeks to fade the lure of my hand under Jess' stomach.
3) Go to Bed: Again, Jess knows this one; she goes to her bed when told to 'go to your box.' We use it mostly as a time-out zone (she tends to sleep on the floor, my chair, me, etc--never in her bed) to calm her down; particularly, now, with her and Lola going crazy for playing. I'll be using 'go to crate', and the method outlined, to get L to voluntarily retire to her crate.
4) Jump!: If I'm to do agility for fun with L when she's older, she's going to need to know to jump! Jess can jump through my linked hoop-shaped arms, and I'd like to teach L to do the same as well as to jump over the pole-jump. I won't be teaching the 'jump!' to Lola until she's at least six months old; and that will be very basic, and any increasing heights will be very gradual.
5) Take A Message: I'll definitely be teaching Lola to find a person on command! It looks like a lot of fun. We already do a very basic form of this in saying the name of a person as we're wandering through the house to find them. I'll have to wait until she can carry things before having her take messages, though.
6) Ring The Bell: This would be good to teach the girls so that they can let me know when they need the toilet. As it is, Jess goes out every few hours and Lola even more often; plus, L isn't mature enough (I don't think) to understand the sequence of ring bell > open kitchen & back door > allow to go and toilet. I might teach this to J and see if L picks it up when she's older.
7) Put Toys Away: It'd be fun to teach L this, but she needs to know the names of things first! I tried it with Jess a couple of months ago, and it bombed; J just didn't understand the concept. Maybe with shaping, though...
8) Find Lost Keys: Christ, this would be good to teach both girls (though I think Jess would be resistant to it--like I said, she just can't understand concepts such as toys=named things!); I'm the most careless person I know, constantly dropping this or that. I'll be using the outlined method in the book for this.
9) Carry Groceries: Not too sure about carrying groceries, but picking up and holding objects would be good to teach to L. At the moment, she would pretty much devour anything in her mouth though: she is still learning self-control. I'll be using the method in the book; and I'll be twisting it to teach her to hand back to me things I drop.
10) Bark and Quiet: Not too sure about 'bark' (I don't want to encourage them! they currently only bark in warning when the door goes, or in play; and in Lola's case, whilst in her crate, argh) but 'quiet' would definitely be useful to teach them! It'd be possible to teach L to bark on command (she'll bark/yap at squeaky toys, frex) but Jess very raaaarely barks.
11) Body Search: This would be a really fun party trick - and great for a Staffie/Beagle and a JRT to learn! I'll definitely use the method outlined to teach this, too.

Her Usual Expression.

Lola is a true Boleyn girl: when she sees something she wants, she finds a way to get it.
Jess, on the other hand, just wants to sleep and not have a puppy dive at her head from the couch.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Two Sides of Lola.

When Lola's with me, she's an angel. She mostly sleeps on my lap, plays with her tuggy toys and plays with Jess under my watchful eye. When she's with someone else (like, for the last two days, my mum) she's a psychotic little crapping machine. Hmm.

She's learned 'touch' and 'sit' really well now, and 'down' is coming along very nicely (we're starting to proof by me asking her to lie down whilst I'm on my knees rather than sat on the floor). We're going to start on 'stand' tomorrow, I think - and then when she gets that, the ever so fun sit/stand/down games can begin!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Puppy Training Class #1.

Okay, so technically this was class two of ten, but I didn't go to the first one--wasn't signed up!--and this was the first week the dogs all met anyway. So I dub this to be class numero uno.

We didn't do much of anything: mostly introductions and 'how to deal with...' basics. As well as Lola (the youngest of the group by far!), there's a Springer Spaniel (Molly--I think she's 14 weeks), a Bedlington Terrier (called Lennox), a Tibetan Terrier (I think called Alfie), a Welsh Springer Spaniel (Cerys?) and a Daschund who's name I didn't get, but who is the oldest of the group.

First up, introductions. Most of the people there oohed and aahed over Lola and her incredible cuteness. She was seriously dwarfed by the other dogs, but didn't seem that bothered--just a little timid and cautious at first, but she livened up really quickly. The main instructor led us through 'how to teach your dog to sit/lie down', and then had us try. I knew Lola wouldn't be able to 'down'--she's still getting it at home, without distractions apart from J--but she surprised me by sitting quite readily, once a little slice of ham was by her nose.

Of course, it's also possible she wasn't that keen because she felt unwell. She'd been sick in the car (on my knee--thanks, girl!) and again about five minutes into us being there. There was a LOT of pink bits in there--I think she might have been swallowing bits of J's toys, that I confiscated yesterday. Urgh, puppies.

After the sit/down (with only a few dogs really getting it - iirc, the only ones that laid down were Molly and the daschund), the trainer ran through some common problems. She also demonstrated things like how to stop a dog chewing its lead (if it doesn't drop it when you let go and hold the collar, popping the lead and saying 'ah!') and mouthing at feet (stamping foot, holding leash taunt so that the dog runs back against it) - aversives and punishments. They seem to use an odd combination there of P and R+ - treats for good behaviour, aversives for bad. They also seem to support dominance theory, ew.

Thankfully though, because Lola is only really there for basic knowledge & the socialisation aspect, she won't be being popped around.

On the other hand, Lola had a fab time wrestling (or rather, trying to) with the younger Tibetan Terrier, Lennox. The TT's owner was getting stressed with his constant barking and rowdy jumping; but the pup was excited, and really just wanted to play! L also had fun trying to convince Molly, the Springer, that she was good and safe; Molly's more timid than Lola (which was odd actually--I'd thought Lola would be quite afraid for a while, but it only took her maybe twenty minutes to adjust to all these new dogs and smells: what a good girl!), and L kept letting her hesitantly sniff, and tried to lick and playbite at her tail. Hmm.

I'll be going again next week, but keeping an eye on the DT propaganda. I don't want to be told that Lola is "dominant" because she likes to sit on my shoes when the floor's cold.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Terrier Wars.

Over the last three or so days, Lola and Jess have gotten comfortable enough with each other to begin play-wrestling and fighting. So far, J is almost always the chaser (unless she has a toy!) and L the chased/rolled over/snapped at. I only intervene if L yelps; just keeping them both happy and relaxed whilst playing is a mission. Even when Lola has yelped, she'll lunge back at Jess for more, and I have to hold her aloft for a moment to give her a chance to calm down.

Crazy, savage dogs - they love their Terrier Wars.

In training news, Jessie's 'stay' has really improved since Lola's been here & training with me. Whilst me and L work on her tricks (so far she knows 'touch' about 95%, 'sit' about 70% (85% with hand lure) and 'down' about 60% with lure--though we're working on fading the lures), Jess lies down and patiently waits, being treated often. When Lola's tired or distracted, Jess gets a turn; Lola doesn't know 'stay' yet, at all.

First training class for Lola tomorrow, at 7.30pm. Hurrah!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Pet Name Analyses

Analysed here. A fun little thing that doesn't really match my girls, but hey-o.

Wessica Jabbit:
Wessica - Yours is a proud animal who truly believes he/she is descended from royalty. This animal will prance and displays great dignity. Your pet is certainly never dull. You may find this animal has a dualistic nature being very communicative one minute and sullen the next. Your pet is sexually oriented, clever, and definitely knows how to go after what he/she wants. Your pet can be manipulative and domineering. Sensitive areas are teeth and bones. This animal has a pleasant disposition and enjoys the company of pets of the opposite sex. This is a curious, loving pet that’s a real 'people' animal. Your pet has a real need for adventure and has very little fear, so keep an eye on this one!
Jabbit - You have a strong, independent, adventurous pet that is filled with wanderlust. Your pet is sweet and loving, enjoys being stroked, and definitely prefers luxury to a spartan life. This is a determined animal; you'll find yourself giving in to such persistence. This pet has an obstinate streak and a tendency to be lazy, keep a close eye on your pet's calories. This is a determined animal; you'll find yourself giving in to such persistence. This animal has a pleasant disposition and enjoys the company of pets of the opposite sex. This animal lives for your time, attention and praise. This is a shy, affectionate animal with a gentle soul. Your pet is best suited to a tension-free environment. Your pet needs time alone to rejuvenate, so don't take it personally.

Lola Boleyn:
Lola - Yours is a very sociable, loving pet who needs to be around other pets and humans. Your pet has a highly developed sixth sense, especially when it comes to home and family. This animal is very tenacious and intensely loyal. This is a tolerant and affectionate animal that cares about his/her appearance and prefers beautiful surroundings. Your pet has a real need for adventure and has very little fear, so keep an eye on this one!
Boleyn - You have a loyal pet that is very protective and possessive. This is a tolerant and affectionate animal that cares about his/her appearance and prefers beautiful surroundings. Since your pet may be a prima donna, grooming should be part of your regular routine. Your pet is certainly never dull. You may find this animal has a dualistic nature being very communicative one minute and sullen the next. Your pet thrives on communicating and loves to show you just how bright he/she really is. Your pet is obedient, learns quickly, and can be a bit standoffish. You'll find your pet has an innate sensitivity to what is expected of him/her. This is an animal that is quite intelligent and adaptable with a gentle nature. Your pet insists on neat and tidy living quarters. This animal likes to be in control and doesn't mind being alone occasionally.

The Girls.

4th December 2010

Winter Wonderpaws.

After getting some advise from the LJ community dogsintraining, I slept downstairs again with Lola (in her crate) with my fingers through the crate bars. It has worked amazingly well for the last two nights; she was quiet and lying down within a minute or two the first time, and in about 45 seconds last night. She woke me up whining at about half two (about 3-4 hours after we go to sleep) and then again just before seven. Both times, I took her straight out into the yard (well, after faffing around putting my boots and coat back on--I can't exactly sleep in them!) and she peed and immediately, upon returning, fell back asleep. Success!

We're working on reducing her troubles in the crate when she's alone, too. At the moment, she's eating meals in there (I toss the biscuits in, making her bounce in and out), and yesterday after I got some rawhide chews she even ate a full chew in there, without making a peep, for about fifteen minutes whilst the doors were shut. It was great!

J & L are getting along good, too. They play-fought a couple of times yesterday (and L tried to chew J's tail twice, leading to a look full of disgust from my older girl), and I only had to step in when it got a little out of hand; Jess kinda forgets size when she's play-fighting, and she bowled Lola over and made her yelp, oops. No lasting harm though: Lola was bouncing happily back to play again within minutes.

I've arranged with a local dog trainer to take Lola to the training classes a town across. The woman is going to pick me up en route at a road about fifteen minutes' walk away from me, at 7pm on Monday. We missed the first week of a ten-week course, but I don't mind: the next course, in my town, doesn't start until late January, which is just too long to wait. Lola will also probably be a little younger than the other dogs there--and she hasn't had her second injections, but at the moment I think the issue of socialisation (she's quite timid) is more important than the relatively small risk of illness; especially since all the dogs at the puppy classes will already be innoculated too.

Further to that, me & L have started working on a few commands - 'sit', 'touch' and 'down' (as in, lie down, not get down/off). She's picked up 'touch' the best, bops her little nose gently against my palm, which is adorable. She probably has about a 60% grasp of 'sit', whereas 'down', which we started working on yesterday, is still in the lure & c/t mode. I like to work on a few commands at once, once the basic idea has been achieved; otherwise, dogs (especially my dogs!) just anticipate what I want, and sit/spin/bow or whatever before I even say the word; they aren't associating the word & action.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


After university yesterday, I took J for a walk in the snow. It was much heavier than before--actual snow, rather than patches of snow/frost--and she wasn't all that impressed. We headed afterwards to ASDA, and then, at about 5pm, we picked up Lola.

Lola and Jess got on alright. Some sniffing and careful glances from J, with vague curiousity from L. A couple of accidents later (once when Mum was watching her, and twice in the crate; she wasn't impressed by being in it, despite having been crate-trained for her entire life so far), after playing and generally keeping everyone calm for now, I headed to bed on the downstairs couch. I wanted L to know she wasn't utterly alone, having come from a big litter (nine puppies born!) from a family that already had three adult dogs (including the mother).

Bad plan. From about one until three in the morning, she cried. And cried. She screamed, threw herself around her crate, yelped, whimpered. Anything and everything she could do, she did. (But no accidents overnight! Success, I suppose.) Apparently, she was still crying when Mum came down at half past three, but I was dead to the world then.

Other than the crate crying problem, she's having a little, um, difficulty in being seperated from me. If I go upstairs, leaving her under Mum's watch, she cries. If I go take Jess out for a walk, she cries (though she did apparently stop quite quickly; maybe knowing I wasn't in the house helped?). If I wash up in the kitchen, regardless of whether or not the door is open and she can be around me, she cries. (Whilst washing up, she even tried clambering up my jeans a few times to get into my lap. Obviously, this didn't work very well.)

Urgh. Tonight, Lola's downstairs, on her own, in the crate. Hopefully being alone--and the many toys she has--will be enough to keep her calm enough (and quiet enough) to sleep. I'm feeding her in the crate, trying to make her sleep in the crate when she dozes throughout the day (with the crate door open), giving her treats in the crate, etc, and yet even this doesn't seem to be helping very much.

I hope she sleeps all night.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dog Days of... Winter?

Jess has been 'enjoying' the thin layer of snow today. To begin with, she was irritated by it: she didn't want to go outside into the backyard, and just glared out at it for a moment. When we went out, she managed to perk up and zoomed over the crusty grass, which was great to see - all the excitement with none of the filthy, muddy paws! By the end of the shortish walk, she was limping exaggeratedly along, lifting one of her back paws. I had cut the hair between the pads of her paws earlier, and I think the cold snow against her bare pads wasn't making her at all happy.

Still, I got some lovely photos of her!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Seeing Lola.

I went to see Lola again today for a couple of hours. She is so very, very adorable.

'Who, me?'

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Stress Signals: Clear as Day

About a week ago, on the train back from my university, a small dog (a JRT cross, I think) got on the train roughly fifteen minutes before the end of the line, where I get off. It was, of course, freezing cold; the temp was hovering at about 0C. The little, long-legged dog had a padded coat on, and crawled onto her owner's lap as soon as he sat down.

She spent the entire journey wide-eyed, repeatedly licking her lips, panting and shivering. She showed the clearest stress signals I have ever seen in a dog, and I hope I never see anything that bad again. Poor girl.

Socialisation Checklist for Lola

These are all things to socialise Lola to before the end of the critical socialisation period (i.e. up to 16 weeks old). She will be sixteen weeks (four months) old on 21st January 2010. In order to check something off the list, it needs to have been experienced at least three times on three different occasions.

Children (aged 0-5 yrs)
Children (aged 6-13 yrs)
Teenagers (13-18 yrs)
Young Adults (19-25 yrs)
Adults (m), white
Adults (f), white
Adults (m), black
Adults (f), black
Adults (m), Asian
Adults (f), Asian
Elderly (m; aged 50+ yrs)
Elderly (f; aged 50+ yrs)

Short People (m)
Short People (f)
Tall People (m)
Tall People (f)
People with Canes/Walkers
People in Wheelchairs
People with Beards/Moustaches
People In Hats
People With Umbrellas
People with Deep Voices
People with High Voices
People Alone
People In Groups
People With Animals
People in High-Visibility Clothes
People in Short Clothes (e.g. skin showing)
People in Long Clothes (e.g. dresses)
People on Bicycles
People on Roller Blades
People on Skateboards

Parks (with children; no dogs)
Parks (with dogs)
Countryside (i.e. farmlands)
Busy Streets
Main Streets
Quiet Streets
Streets with Cars
Streets with no Cars
Crowded Areas
Empty Areas
Places in the Morning
Places in the Afternoon
Places in the Evening
Places in the Night
Pet Shops
Supermarket Carparks
Outdoor Markets
Indoor Markets

Cars (when stationary)
Cars (when moving)

Big Dogs (m)
Big Dogs (f)
Medium Dogs (m)
Medium Dogs (f)
Small Dogs (m)
Small Dogs (f)
Quiet Dogs (m)
Quiet Dogs (f)
Bouncy/Loud Dogs (m)
Bouncy/Loud Dogs (f)
Dogs on Lead
Dogs off Lead
Cats outside
Cats inside
Pet Shop animals
Farm/Countryside animals

Vacuum Cleaners
Washing Machines
Stereos & CD Players
Games Consoles
Fridges & Freezers
Stairs Going Up
Steps Going Up
Stairs Going Down
Steps Going Down
Sports Equipment
Cars Going Past
Motorbikes Going Past
Trucks Going Past
Tractors Going Past
Lorries Going Past
Vans Going Past
Footballs, Basketballs, etc
Fire (teach to avoid)
Lit Candles (teach to avoid)
Unlit Candles

Insect Noises
Emergency Sirens (police, fire rescue, ambulance, etc)

Thunder and lightning (indoors)
Thunder and Lightning (outdoors)
Heavy Rain (indoors)
Heavy Rain (outdoors)
Hard Winds (indoors)
Hard Winds (outdoors)
Bright Sunlight
Dim Sunlight
Snow & Ice

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Bringing Lola home.

On Tuesday 30th November--in one week's time!--at about 4:30pm, just a few hours after her first injections, I'll be bringing little Lola home. We're picking up all the stuff for her in the next couple of days: crate, toys, collar, lead, food, etc etc. She's already met Jess once, and the meeting went well, with Jess sniffing her whilst her tail happily wagged. I'm anticipating some ruffled feathers in the first few days at least, but I'll be paying twice the attention than usual to my old girl, and hopefully she won't be too jealous.