'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

Monday, 31 January 2011

Working on Bang Bang.

Today we've been working on L's newest trick with breakfast & dinner kibble (and some nice big chunks of liver for the jackpots).

We did a hundred reps with breakfast of me saying 'bang, bang' and then giving the hand signal, and she didn't perform once without first needing the signal, of course.

At dinnertime, we did the same thing, after a few basic drills of down/sit/paw/touch to get her in the mood. On reps 127, 129, 157, 161, 167, 180, 181, 182, 183, 184 and 189, she offered her 'bang, bang' before I gave the signal but after I gave the verbal cue.

So, progress! Ten times out of two hundred reps doesn't sound like much, but it is (in my opinion, anyhoo) for a little puppy. 'Bang, bang' is the most complicated behaviour she's done so far (lie down>onto side), rather than just a quick down/sit/paw/etc, so I think she's doing pretty well. We're going to try again tomorrow evening, and I'm hoping for some quick responses!

Sun/Monday Summary.

This is not Lola mid-slip. Honest.

Lola: 10 inches.
Jess: 14 inches.
Lola: just over 12 inches.
Jess: 16 inches.
Neck Sizes:
Lola: 9 inches.
Jess: 14 inches.
Training Logs:
New/Developed Tricks:
Leave It (90% accuracy) - L.
Leave It (~92% accuracy) - J.
Paw (95% accuracy) - L.
Bang, Bang (working on it accuracy) - L.

New Years Resolutions
I've not written much, only about 500 words, but it's a (re)start..
So far, I've read twenty one books (out of target 150).

Today: Walking, Falling, Sliding.

Took Lola (on her own--Jess is still recooperating!) to a New Place (for her at least) today. And she did very well! She was pretty confident about exploring--when I wasn't running away from her--and she even played with a BIG DOG without any fuss whatsoever. Silly pup.

I ran away from her a few minutes into the walk, and hurtled into the kid's park bit. She did a couple of laps around, screeching her head off, with me laughing fit to burst before I thought to flip out the camera. Then, of course, she figured it out.

For the first time, she got to see/play on something new: moving surfaces. There are literally none other than at this park (close to a friend's house) near me, but she didn't seem at all fazed by it.

In fact, I'd go as far as to say she enjoyed herself. She loves to chase.

She did not enjoy me running away and hiding up on top of the slide, though. Or being forced to try and scale the slide for my enjoyment.

I think that this game was more fun, though I nearly dropped the camera. Not a great plan, in hindsight.

We had a couple of ups and downs on the way to, during and on the way back from the park. On the way there, Lola decided to flinch and try to flee whenever a lorry went past, regardless of which side of the road it was on. (And, obviously, there were lots of big, noisy lorries out today. Naturally.) I had her sit and touch for treats as the lorries went past; by the time we headed back, she was happy to carry on walking as they went past on the other side of the road, and gave only wide eyes and an ear flick when they went past on our side.

And L--she who flirts with other dogs and screeches when they move toward her--played with a dog. A big dog. I think she was in love; she got very wiggly, play-bowing constantly, barking to invite play, etc. He was tolerant of her silliness, thankfully!

Oh yeah, and one last thing. The last time I called Lola, I may have run away from her (which I do, sometimes, to increase her drive to get-back-quick!). I then may have slipped, and may have slid down a muddy bank on my backside. I may have then had to walk home hoping my coat would keep the muddiness hidden. Of course, this may not have happened at all. I wish.

My not-entirely, not-quite, no-longer-Sunday Summary will be up... eventually. Damned procrastination.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Oh, Lola...

I like grass! I like leaves! I like being a moron!
My silly puppy has apparently decided a few things:
a) Children (especially children with scooters or bikes) must be yapped at,
b) The big brush is a beast from hell and must be attacked; it absolutely cannot, must not, be allowed to sweep away crap in the front yard,
c) The correct way to play with strange dogs is to run up, barking to play, and then run away screeching when they step toward you.


Nah nah nah nah, can't touch dis.
I've realised that Lola isn't that comfortable outdoors yet--and she can't ever seem to relax. I think this is because she's only going out for walks (it's just too cold for me to sit on a bench with her and let her chill out).

Little rat.
Anyway: tomorrow we are going to be walking around town, and then see if we can't sit in the library for a while; it's indoors and warm, but not someone's house. I need to nip the yapping-at-kids thing in the bud; I can keep her away from children now, but when it comes to summer they're going to be everywhere. It doesn't even sound like her fear-bark (which is really, really screechy and genuinely earsplitting), nor her play-with-me bark, and she doesn't bark when she's found a prey thing to kill.

Lola is imprisoned until future notice. Yes.
I might try asking some kids (we live opposite a primary school, sooooo yeah) to drop treats at their feet, but I don't want her mugging every child she sees for treats. Eh, I'll think of something... eventually.

Bang, Bang.

Lola learning 'bang, bang' (our cue for play dead). So far, she'll only do it for the hand signal right on the ground (fingers curled into a fist, with thumb and last finger poking out). Once she's got that perfected, I'll be moving on to lifting my hand higher and higher before I give it a verbal cue, then add duration and distance. Either way L seems to enjoy it!

This Morning...

...Has not started well.

Jess still has diarrhoe, and has now thrown up twice (within about a minute), thick yellow fluid (bile?). I managed to get her to have a Gastrine tablet (for sore stomachs/vomiting/diarrhoe), which I forgot to give yesterday, and she hasn't had any cod liver oil since the day before yesterday; if it's that that has upset her stomach, she just won't get it anymore. Lola is acting normal (perky, no issues with toileting, no vomiting, currently sleeping on my lap) so it's obviously, definitely not some sort of bug.

If Jess throws up again, I'm going to ring the vets tomorrow and try to book her in. If need be, I'll skip a day of uni to take her during the week; my girls come first. In the meantime, she's not going out on a walk today; she's on bed rest (yeah, tell that to L--they've already wrestled and chased each other once today). I'm going to cook some pasta and give her that and her dry kibble filler shortly.

My mum had a diabetic attack earlier too, at the same time as I was dealing with Jess. She got off to work an hour later than she should have, and now she's arrived she has no memory of that hour. Great start to a day.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Distractions and Annoyances.

Today, when we went out, I decided to test Lola's 'paw'. In hindsight, it was probably not the best idea to do so when I only had dry kibble and when she was off-lead with dogs nearby; but she performed brilliantly. Throughout the walk, I asked her five times for her paw and each time she smacked the back of my hand with it. I really need to work on softness, though: I now have little cuts oozing blood on the knuckles of one hand. Hm.

Jess was an idiot on the walk. She was on a contraption made up of her usual lead (around my waist), a bungee rope and the 10ft or so long lead. It didn't give her much freedom, but maybe that was for the best. She was grumpier than usual, snarking in particular at a boxer and yappy spaniel, perhaps due to her current upset stomach. She's still passing mostly yellow fluid; not nice at all.

On the way home, I saw an elderly woman trying to dominate her excited spaniel: 'NO, you CAN'T GO OUT THE DOOR FIRST, heel!! HEEL!' There comes a point where even the most stubborn person can see a method isn't working: but people in my area seem more stubborn than anywhere else. DT is the leading camp; R+ just hasn't made a mark yet.

It's Yer Choice.

Jess's second time playing; Lola's third. Lola kept removing herself from the situation (walking a little away, watching from a distance) to help her control herself. That's pretty interesting for me to know: if in doubt of L's ability for self control, remove her from the situation quickly. I found it quite amusing that Jess did not want the treat in her paw at first, as if she thought she just couldn't control herself if it touched her.

Friday, 28 January 2011

101 Tricks to Teach.

Tricks that have been striked are complete, and can be performed reliably with a verbal cue in any situation.
Tricks that are purple, we're working on 'formally'.
Tricks that are blue, we're working on 'informally'.

101 Tricks to Teach:
1. Sit down: Sit: Jess, Lola.
2. Lie down: Down: Jess, Lola.
3. Stand up: Stand: Jess, Lola.
4. Touch palm with nose: Touch: Jess, Lola.
5. Target end of t-stick: Target: Jess, Lola.
6. Don't touch that: Leave It: Jess, Lola.
7. Touch hand with either paw: Paw: Jess, Lola.
8. Shake body: Shake: Jess, Lola.
9. Scratch the ground: Digger: Jess, Lola.
10. Beg: Beg (J), Meerkat (L): Jess, Lola.
11. Drop what's in your mouth: Drop: Jess, Lola.
12. Get on to furniture: Up: Jess, Lola.
13. Get off of furniture: Off: Jess, Lola.
14. Spin left until told to stop: Twirl: Lola. (Jess has a generic 'spin', either direction.)
15. Spin right until told to stop: Circle: Lola.
16. Roll onto back, relaxed: Roll-over: Jess, Lola.
17. Roll over (stood->on back->stood): Rolypoly: Jess, Lola.
18. Lick face of speaker: Kisses: Lola.
19. Leave the room the speaker is in: Out: Jess, Lola.
20. Enter the room the speaker is in: In: Jess, Lola.
21. Stand up on back paws: Up, up (J) / Hot to Trot (L): Jess, Lola.
22. Take offered item in mouth: Take It: Jess, Lola.
23. Hold offered item in mouth: Hold That: Jess, Lola.
24. Walk informally to heel: With Me: Jess, Lola.
25. Walk formally to heel: Close: Jess, Lola.
26. Enter and lie down in crate: Crate: Lola.
27. Stay until released: Stay: Jess, Lola.
28. Fetch a ball: Ball: Lola. (Jess has a generic 'fetch'.)
29. Jump into speaker's arms: Gimme love: Jess, Lola.
30. Put paws on speaker's shoulders from front: Hug me: Jess, Lola.
31. Take a bow: Bow: Jess, Lola.
32. Lie down and cross paws: Queenly (J), Boleyn (L): Jess, Lola.
33. Wave: Farewell: Jess, Lola.
34. Weave between speaker's legs: Weave (J), Dancing girl (L): Jess, Lola.
35. Bark: Speak up: Jess, Lola.
36. Stop barking: Shut yer mouth: Jess, Lola.
37. Lower head: Head down: Jess, Lola.
38. Lift head: Head up: Jess, Lola.
39. Touch muzzle with own paw: Are You Sad?: Jess, Lola.
40. Crawl to speaker: Crawl: Jess, Lola.
41. Limp (hold one paw up while walking): Is puppy hurt?: Jess, Lola.
42. Jump into the air: Launch yourself: Jess, Lola.
43. 'March' front paws, one at a time: March: Jess, Lola.
44. Shake head from side to side: Say no: Jess, Lola.
45. Shake head up and down: Say yeah: Jess, Lola.
46. Target other dog with nose: Find your sister: Jess, Lola.
47. 'Handstand'/stand on two paws: Circus freak: Jess, Lola.
48. Do agility weave poles: Weave: Jess, Lola.
49. Jump over agility jump: Jump: Jess, Lola.
50. Jump through a hoop: Hoop: Jess, Lola.
51. Jump through speaker's hooped arms: Hoola: Jess, Lola.
52. Put front paws on wall, facing wall: Don't shoot: Jess, Lola.
53. Walk forward: Front-step: Jess, Lola.
54. Walk backward: Back Up (J), Backstep (L): Jess, Lola.
55. Walk right: Slide Right: Jess, Lola.
56. Walk left: Slip Left: Jess, Lola.
57. Circle around speaker: Herd Me: Jess, Lola.
58. Return to speaker: Come here [or respond to whistle]: Jess, Lola.
59. Stop directly in front of speaker: Front: Jess, Lola.
60. Return to, and sit in, heel position: Finish: Jess, Lola.
61. Shake a toy: Kill it: Jess, Lola.
62. Target item with paw(s): Bunny hop: Jess, Lola.
63. Target item with nose: Snuffle: Jess, Lola.
64. Shift backwards when laid down: Moonwalk: Jess, Lola.
65. Shift backwards when sat: Scoot: Jess, Lola.
66. Jump over other dog: Leapfrog: Jess, Lola.
67. Stand on speaker's back, speaker bent: Piggyback: Jess, Lola.
68. Play 'bowling' with child's bowling balls and pins: Strikeout: Jess, Lola.
69. Move in a circle with paws up on a stool: Elephant: Jess, Lola.
70. Put toys back in toybox: Clean Up: Jess, Lola.
71. Hit a button with paws: Smack That: Jess, Lola.
72. Lift left back leg: Links (german--left): Jess, Lola.
73. Lift right back leg: Rechts (german--right): Jess, Lola.
74. Stand on an item (all four paws): Popup: Jess, Lola.
75. Get in an item (all four paws): Minimise: Jess, Lola.
76. Put paws on other dog: Sibling love: Jess, Lola.
77. Move and stand in a corner, head hanging: Rebel Princess: Jess, Lola.
78. Roll onto side, head on floor: Bang, bang: Jess, Lola.
79. Roll onto back, paws stiff in air: Play dead: Jess, Lola.
80. Climb up speaker's back (with speaker knelt), head on their shoulder: Aren't you Lovely?: Lola.
81. Stop moving, in position: Freeze: Jess, Lola.
82. Meet handler's eyes: Look (J), Watch Me (L): Jess, Lola.
83. Target speaker's left foot with left paw: Dasher: Jess, Lola.
84. Target speaker's right foot with right paw: Prancer: Jess, Lola.
85. Blow bubbles in bowl of water: Treasure-Hunt: Jess, Lola.
86. Stretch: Kittycat: Lola.
87. Touch speaker's nose with own: Eskimo: Lola.
88. Wrap self in blanket: Tuck in: Lola.
89. Begging position, one paw higher: High Five: Jess, Lola.
90. Walk with paws on speaker's feet: Tippytoes: Jess, Lola.
91. Hold speaker's hand gently in mouth: Infant: Jess, Lola.
92. Touch own left paw with nose: Gauche (french--left): Jess, Lola.
93. Touch own right paw with nose: Droite (french--right): Jess, Lola.
94. Target football in midair with nose: Heads: Lola.
95. Hide face in paws, laid down: Whodunnit: Lola.
96. Wait (i.e. don't barge out of door): Wait: Jess, Lola.
97. Move away from where you are: Move: Jess, Lola.
98. Settle/calm down: Settle: Lola.
99. Tug object offered: Tuggy: Lola.
100. Target own tail with nose: Choppit: Lola.
101. Return to own home: Go Home: Jess, Lola.

Working on: Paw and Leave It.

Aw yeah, guess who got some rechargable batteries for her camera, at last.

Today we've been working on paw and leave it, rather than our usual retrieve. The latter is something L knows (vaguely), but after seeing a video on It's Yer Choice I decided to push it much further with her. After just a single five-min session on this with her dinner, she seems to understand that even when my hand is open, she can't get the food if she's been told to leave it. That's a marked improvement on divebombing my hand as soon as my fingers even thought about cracking open.

Before today, L has never given her paw. I used capturing/shaping to get it: holding a treat in my loosely fisted hand, and putting it on the floor in front of her. I'm seriously glad I did this before doing It's Yer Choice - otherwise the fist might have put her off. She quickly stopped sniffing my hand and began pawing it lightly. Click/treat. She looked at me, looked at my hand. Pawed my hand. C/t. Another rep and I didn't need the treat inside my fist; she pawed as soon as it was present. Halfway through the session, I put a word to it: paw. I'm guilty of jumping the gun a lot when it comes to verbal cues, when I'm not keeping training logs for the behaviour, but in this case there doesn't seem to a problem. Another five minute session later on in the day, and she will now tap her paw against the back of my hand (or my mum's hand) regardless if I'm sat, crouched, knelt or stood (and, obviously, leaning down) in the living room or front room. Sweet.

Tomorrow I'm going to add some duration to it (maxing out at five seconds, without resorting to scratching my hand open. I'm also going to ask her to paw in more distracting areas: in the front room by the window, in the yard, on the street, and finally when we're at the park.

Lola's Fetch.

Naturally, when the camera came out, L decided to go all slow. Puppies.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Queen Jess.

Jess might be a grumpy, sighing Old Lady who shouts at other dogs, but she's mine.

Happy Inbox.

From yesterday.

Today, I received two emails that made my pretty happy.

One was from Dog's Trust--I need to ring them tomorrow to see if I can get a 'subsidised neutering voucher.' If so, when I get Lola spayed it will only cost around £30, rather than £130. Sweet.

The second was from the dog training club in the next town over (about a ten minute bus journey, then fifteen minute walk):

'Hi, we are just three weeks into a new course, you are more than welcome to come and view the classes, any time, to discuss next enrolment and see if you like us.'
Their willingness to let me come and observe the class first (something I couldn't do with Trinity Training, without first paying the not entirely cheap £55) is a green light so far. The only downside to this place is that it doesn't say anything about it's training methods on the website. I'm hoping that, at worst, they use a mix of traditional training and positive reinforcement; but are open to me being able to do my own thing in the corner of the room or something. And I'm hoping that, at best, they forbid the use of physical corrections (and over-reliance on verbal corrections) and use R+ consistently. We'll see on Tuesday, when I go down; I'm going to go to the 6.30 til 8 classes (puppy socialisation 6.30 - 7:00, adult starters 7:00 - 7:30, bronze KC 7:30 - 8:00).

In training news, Lola's retrieve is going fabulous. She can now bring the ball back to me, one cue only, and drop it within 1ft of me. She drops it sometimes and looks at me, but a second later she's picking the ball back up and bouncing toward me. She even had to wrestle it away from Jess earlier; I threw it, J snatched it, L harassed her until she dropped it, and then L grabbed it and trotted back to me. Serious success. That's mostly all we've been working on.

I've decided I need to work more with Jess, too. An extra handful or three of her dry kibble a day won't do her any harm; she's still struggling a little to put back on all the lost puppy-influenced weight. And she loves to work! I brought out the stool we use occasionally for the first time in a few weeks, and she immediately put her front paws up on it and started walking around it, away from me, when I moved toward her. I need to start getting her to just 'go round' on her own, and might start working on that with her.

In personal news, I'm eighteen in eight days. Oy. Going out for my first (legal) drinks on the day with friends at home, and then two weeks today (we think, so far) going out with my friends at university. For more drinks. Something tells me that weekend and the following week will be fun.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Not-entirely-Wordless Wednesday.

Took the girls to a new place to walk. Only saw two dogs, belonging to a pair of girls. Jess went over to investigate--and the girls kicked their own dogs when the dogs started whining to play with her. Sometimes, I hate where I live.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Jumping Jack.

Today, for the first time, Lola managed to jump up and pull herself onto my mum's bed (abt 28/29 inches in total). And, of course, she did it whilst I wasn't there. Damn it, L. She showed off by jumping and yanking herself up several times when I got home, and seemed very pleased to have figured out the secret to getting up there without having to puppy-eye us into lifting her up.

One small step for me, one giant leap for the rat.

Puppy Training Class: Enough is Enough.

I have had enough of the puppy training classes. Let's go through the reasons why:

1) On the way to the class, I mentioned my newfound theory about how Lola doesn't like to be touched when she's working because she's working (and teething). She sees contact as an annoying interrupter, unless she's wrestling with my hand; she's trying to figure out what I want, so why do I keep touching her? Jean, the trainer (one of the two main trainers) who gives me a lift, immediately said, "You have to be careful with that, she thinks she's top dog."
This is the puppy who came bounding back to me after I called her away from a squirrel, and the puppy who greets me when I'm gone with screams, a wiggly puppy bum and a hundred kisses. I just made a noncommital sound.

2) We had to do down-stays in class, which me and Lola have not done. We are working on sit-stays--we were never even told to expect to have to do down-stays. Nor are these part of the examination; the dog is required to stay in the position it is left in, irregardless of whether it is sat, laid down, stood up, etc. So we were working on our downs (L was stressed by the other dogs being 1m away; she wanted to play! but she was game enough to obey), and she was looking for treats when I told her she was a good girl. I went to give her a treat, and I was corrected from across the room--"No treats! Put your treats away!"
Lola, obviously, was extremely confused. She popped out of her downs, and after six or so reps she just stopped and began giving off calming signals: looking away from me, head lowering, yawning, sniffing the ground.
One of the two secondary trainers came over, and asked if I was having trouble. I couldn't say no, because she could see that Lola was losing her concentration swiftly. The woman took the lead from my hand, and began to lift it up swiftly over L's head to jerk her into a sit, after sharply saying, "SIT!"
I saw red. I was about a second away from slapping the woman. I grabbed the lead, crushing the woman's thumb under the heel of my hand, and brought it back down. It was all I could do to contain myself enough to shout at her, "do NOT do that." I spun a lie, saying that L had a sore neck, and that she was very sensitive about it; if I could have, I'd have left without lying, but I needed the lift back and so would have to wait for the end of the lesson.
She tried to coo to Lola to get her to come back to her, after L had shot well away from her to hide behind my legs. I eventually had to step forward--stiff, tense, veering on the edge of physical violence--in order to make L shuffle forward the slightest amount behind me. The woman picked her up and inspected her neck (ignoring Lola's frantic struggles to get away: L seemed to know both the woman's intent and my role in keeping her safe), and then allowed me to continue.

3) One of the other handlers, with Lennox the Bedlington Terrier, was also having difficulty keeping him down. (She later told me she hadn't worked beyond a three-second sit-stay.) Jean went over to them, grabbed Lennox by the throat, and forced him onto his side: not forced him into his standard 'down', but a basic alpha roll. And yet it did not end; she relaxed her hand, he obviously thought he was free to get up, she shrieked AH, AH! in his face and smacked her hand back onto his throat to hold him down. She kept him there, going through the procedure several times, until he eventually gave up trying to get up.

4) At the end of the lesson, we let the dogs off. Lola had fun barking at the others (she wanted to play, but didn't quite know how to play with the big dogs). Jean's Italian Spinone started chasing her, and the Alsatian belonging to the crappy trainer woman immediately followed. L began screaming, her real terrified screech, and fled once around the room before bolting toward me. I instinctively reached down and put my hand just between my calves, not stroking her but just supporting her, and Jean and the other main trainer shouted, "do not stroke her! You'll make her more scared! You're telling her it's right to be scared!"
Uh, no. If my dog is afraid, she has the right to remove herself from the situation and be comforted by her protector. I am not going to try and flood my dog into accepting the hugely bouncy dogs chasing her around and scaring the living daylights out of her.
Later, she snapped at two dogs--the lurcher and alsatian cross that belonged to the secondary trainer--which is something she has never done before.

I am tired of the dominance bullshit, the constant use of aversives and no treats. I am tired of being treated like an "average" owner who knows nothing. I am tired of being told that I cannot use treats when I am training my dog to accept something new.

I am not going back.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday Summary.

Lola: abt 9.5 inches.
Lola: 12 inches.
Neck Sizes:
Lola: abt 8.5 inches.
Training Logs:
Sit-Stay 2.
Fun Retrieve 1.
Fun Retrieve 2.

New Years Resolutions
Haven't written anything, oops. Need to fix that; I miss writing.
So far, I've read seventeen books (out of target 150).
I need to sort this out. As soon as mum's friend leaves (next Friday or Sunday), we're going on a health kick and we are not buying any more shitty food.

Collar Fear and Work Drive.

Ever since Lola's fur was starting to look (and feel) weird from constantly wearing her collar, and since she was accepting enough of it to only be scratching at it once or twice a day, she and Jess have been back to wearing no collars. And now, in the last two or so days, L has decided that the collar going over her head is the most awful thing ever. She'll sit and wait as instructed, even though she's quivering to go and leap at Jessie's face, but as soon as the collar comes within a couple of inches of her head she's wiggling away from it, shying back or jolting like she's been electrocuted.

I have no idea what's brought this on. I've never dragged her by her collar, or grabbed it more than necessary (to get her to hold still occasionally, but always with treats galore). When I do manage to get her to stay still, her ears shoot back as soon as it clips together around her neck. I'm going to try and pair the clipping of the collar around her neck with huge blocks of cheese, but I have no idea how to get her to not shy away when the collar comes closer. Hmm.

I also need to work on a problem I've realised we have: how she doesn't want physical contact, thank you very much, when she's 'working.' Sure, she'll wrestle with and chase my hand for a reinforcer after a particularly good repetition of something, but she'll duck away from a pat, and she most certainly does not want her lip moved so I can see her teeth. Even more than the collar problem, I have no idea how to increase the value of physical contact when she's working without removing her super-focused work drive. But without it I'm not going to be able to display my ability to 'groom' and handle her in the puppy class test in a few weeks. I'm at a bit of a loss on that.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Four Months Old; Recall; Retrieve.

Today my little rat-girl is four months old. I've had her for just shy of two months. It's amazing to think that - it seems like I've had her for seconds and for years, all at once. She's my little angel; the first day she came she parked herself on my lap, and she hasn't left since.

Yesterday, whilst out walking just Lola (with Jess resting until her leg's back to normal), I hid from her when she blew off my recall to play with another dog. I didn't call again - I just turned around and ran. A second later, I heard her pounding away after me. I managed to put 10m between us slip behind a tree just before she came into sight, and she whimpered for a minute or so, growing increasingly frantic, until I calmly and quietly cleared my throat. She immediately hurtled around the tree and leapt up at me, doing her I found you, there you are, hello there! screaming yip. Ten minutes later, she set off after a squirrel. I blew the whistle and, immediately, she turned around (despite being only 3 or 4m from the little thing) and ran full speed back to me. Today, I recalled her off of several crows with great success. What an obedient little firecracker.

We've been working on her retrieve today. I decided to start afresh last night, scrapping our previous fetch work (which we'd reached an awkward point with) to begin shaping a fetch, rather than trying to force one. Last night, we worked on her targeting the ball in my hand, then mouthing at it. By the end of this morning's session, she was five for five for following picking the ball up from the floor when I rolled it away from me. At the end of the afternoon session she lifted the ball clean up into the air without hesitation, and by tonight's final session she was lifting the ball and taking two steps back toward me, five for five. She seems to really enjoy it: a light goes on in her eyes when I bring out the ball. Perhaps she's not a ratty terrier after all; maybe she's a retriever with her legs cut off. Who knows!

Here's to a good puppy, and hopefully a good long life with her.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Wordless Wednesday.

Yesterday: the Good and the Bad.

Yesterday was a strange mixture of good and bad. We got back our coursework from one of our modules from last semester at university; like at least half of the lecture class, I'd failed. It was, my lecturer said, a very good, engaging and interesting essay - but it was all literature criticism, not language. Oops.

I was upset at this at first (I do not fail at English; I never have), but spending the afternoon with Jenny and the dogs made things better. Lola and Millie enjoyed wrestling (even if Millie's slightly psychotic growling alarmed me at times), and it was fun to just relax when we got back from the walk with chips and gravy, whilst watching the League of Gentlemen.

Then last night, Jess started limping. I wasn't too concerned, as she's done this before when she's overworked herself whilst out. She's usually better by morning... but today she was still limping, and now I'm a little concerned. My mum is off from work and watching the dogs today, so at least Jess and Lola aren't alone. I was able, both last night and this morning, to touch and move the leg she seems reluctant to put weight on without her caring. If she's still limping tomorrow though, I'll contact the vets for a checkup. My girl is old now, though she often doesn't act it, and I want her to be healthy.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Puppy Training: Grooming and LLW.

Finally, we got back to training class. All we missed last week was a recap of what we've done so far; so I hadn't missed anything. It was strange to see people after so long (especially Lennox and his handler; the poor bedlington has had a shave cut thanks to miscommunication with a local groomer, and he looked so weird).

This week, as Lola's now had plenty of time to get used to the strange sights, sounds and smells of puppy training, I took a proactive approach - and took half a sandwich bag full of treats (filled with a slice of tiny chunks of cheese, a sliced up meat stick, 6 shapes broken into crumbs, several barbeque bones smashed up to crumbs, and L's dinner; two handfuls of kibble) to continuously work L. She was so excited to get there--and especially when her bff Lennox arrived--that she was yapping and jumping and darting like crazy before the lesson even started. I moved her to the other side of the room, and worked on getting and keeping her focus with two dozen or so reps of sit, down, touch and with me as we walked around the room, rewarding her with both treats and situational reinforcers.

Throughout the entire class (well, for the 90% or so of the lesson--which ran on for 20 minutes longer than usual--that we actually had some treats), I asked L to continuously give reps of sit, down and touch. Nonstop reps, with the occasional jackpot for a super-speedy sit or down, and it kept her so much more focused. She was startled by Jean's Italian Spinone being present, for the first time in the course, but she managed to ignore it when it was about 3m away and concentrated on giving me sits and downs for treats; and this was even toward the end of the session.

In the lesson, we had to demonstrate our ability to groom our dogs (um... I can brush L with a treat as a distraction, but I can't lift her lips to see her teeth when she is too interested in getting at everything and anything), and then we moved on to showing off our loose-lead walking and doorwork. Lola's fabulous focus on me whilst walking was commented on--several times; and we were the only ones to be complimented as such!--but she went from intense focus on me (just like usual) to lunging to play with the other dogs (just like usual). I'm going to borrow some other people's dogs and do on-lead manners with L in the next couple of days; she will have to learn to wait until I say, 'say hello' to be allowed to greet the other dogs. Our doorwork was fine, nothing great; about on par with everyone else's (and we really haven't worked on it outside of the house, so I was amazed we did that well).

Twice during the session, Lola began fidgeting and whining. I took her outside immediately, and was rewarded with her toileting quite quickly. Success! A few weeks ago, she would have just sniffed, squatted and done her business in the training room; now she knew enough that she shouldn't go here, she should tell me and get me to take her outside. Fantastic.

Next lesson, we're carrying on with leadwork so, ideally, I need to have at least started L's on-lead doggy manners by then. We also apparently have four lessons left until the test; the likelihood of us passing is probably about 1.5% at a push.

However, I got some great news in that (despite what I was led to believe before) if we fail (and we probably will!) it will only cost us £20 to re-take the test at a later date. So that's good. I was worrying we were going to have to go through the entire course again. Now, we'll be able to work until L is ready, and then I'll be able to keep up our momentum and apply to take the next test possible.

Not-Quite Sunday Summary.

Lola's sleepy ears: one up as usual (floppy tip), one too tired to stay upright.

Lola: abt 9 inches inches.
Lola: 11 inches.
Neck Sizes:
Lola: abt 8 inches.
Training Logs:
Sit-Stay 1.

New Years Resolutions
Haven't been doing so much this week, but last week I wrote around 6k.
So far, I've read twelve books (out of target 150). Seven have been fiction, five non-fiction.
Yeah, I've been slacking. Ready meals and chocolate and fizzy drinks and no extra exercise ahoy. I'm such a slacker.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Bronze Certificate (part 1).

Bronze Certificate from Sarah Fisher and Marie Miller's 100 Ways to Train the Perfect Dog (pages 52 to 100).

11) Practise calm containment: p53.
a. '1. Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels. Place the puppy between your knees and thighs with him facing away from you to reduce the chances of him jumping at your face. 2. Put your heels together to form a V-shape so that the puppy cannot reverse. 3. Keep your arms relaxed and place your open palms lightly on the pup's chest. 4. Go with his movement: if he tries to walk forward, gently draw him back to you, keeping your hands relaxed, and contain him in the original position. The aim is to create a mobile barrier, not to pin him to one spot. 5. Some dogs accept this very quickly but others continue to wriggle. Stay calm and keep repeating the gently containing movement until your dog relaxes and is happy to sit quietly with you.'

12) Work on all-over handling: p54.
a. 'Teaching your dog to accept and enjoy contact is an important part of his development. It enables you to make regular health checks, to handle him without causing upset, trim toe nails, groom him, treat minor cuts and grazes, clean muddy paws, towel dry him and so on.'
b. '1. Start by containing your dog or sitting next to him. 2. Run your hand lightly and slowly over his body without applying too much pressure. Use the Clouded Leopard TTouch (p.37) to help keep him calm and to show him that contact is something that is truly pleasurable. 3. If your dog is wary about contact around his hindquarters, for example, start by working on another area and use the light Zigzag (p.38) to access the pelvic reigon. You can also use this technique for helping him to be less sensitive to having his paws handled. 4. Use different textures so that your dog becomes accustomed to lots of different sensations and does not develop a fear of being groomed.'

13) Teach your puppy to accept the collar: p55.
a. 'If your puppy writhes around when you attempt to put on the collar or attach a leash, squeeze some soft cheese or pate on to the door of a refrigerator or washing machine to change his focus.'

14) Teach the 'off' or 'leave' cue: p56-57.
a. '1. Hold a treat between your finger and thumb. Offer it to your dog with the palm of your hand facing up and allow him to take it gently. Repeat this a few times. Say nothing at all. 2. Offer another treat and as your dog moves forward to take it, turn your hand over and close your fist, making sure that your thumb is tucked inside. He will probably push at your hand, or he may paw it, but ignore this behaviour. Keep your hand still and refrain from speaking to him or reprimanding him in any way. 3. The moment your dog stops trying to gain access to the tidbit, turn your hand over, palm up and give him the treat. 4. Repeat this process a number of times, making sure that you give more treats than you withhold.'

15) Introduce appropriate greetings: p58.
a. '1. Offer the back of your hand to your dog. Have your fingers pointing downwards and hold the clicker in the otherh and well away from his head. When his nose gently touches your hand, click, pause a couple of seconds and then give a small soft treat. 2. Make gentle eye contact (half-close your eyes) and then offer your hand. Click when your dog touches it and, as before, give a small treat. 3. Repeat step 2 a few times, increasingly making more direct eye contact until your dog is confident. 4. Gradually lean and move more quickly towards your dog until he accepts this approach by immediately touching the front of your hand. 5. As your dog gains confidence, begin to involve oter people in training this behaviour, talking them through the exrecise. He should greet them with a hand touch and then turn back to you. 6. Finally, when your dog is offering this behaviour consistently as a greeting, put in a verbal cue, such as 'say hello'.'

16) Teach a calm 'sit': p59.
a. '1. Hold a small tasty treat near your dog's nose with your fingers curved and pointing upwards; this forms the basis of the hand signal. 2. Slowly raise your hand at a slight angle so the dog follows with his nose and begins to tip his head back; click and treat. 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 and click when the dog is almost sitting. 4. Repeat step 3, but this time wait until his bottom actually touches the ground before you click and treat. Your dog is now responding to an upward hand signal. 5. When the dog is consitently responding to the hand signal introduce a word cue by saying 'sit' as you give the signal. Click and treat.'

17) Give lessons in 'down': p60-61.
a. '1. Most dogs find it easier to learn the down from a sit position. Hold a small tasty treat near your dog's nose, with curved fingers pointing downwards; this will form the basis of the hand signal. 2. Slowly lower the treat in a straight line towards the floor. 3. As your dog begins to follow your hand with his nose, click and after a few seconds drop the treat between his paws. This will encourage him to get into the habit of looking to the floor for the treat, which will diminish the chances of him learning to do 'doggy press-ups' and following your hand back up in search of another treat. 4. Again from the 'sit' position, take the treat loer so that this time the dog's nose is close to the floor and his front legs begin to bend. Click and after a few seconds drop the treat. 5. Still from the sit, lower the treat from nose to floor and then slowly push it back towards his chest. 6. Wait until he drops his wole body into the 'down' position then click and after a few seconds drop the treat between his paws. 7. Repeat this a few times until your dog gets the idea. Then try lowering your hand, giving the same hand signal towards the floor. 8. Click when he takes the down position and after a few seconds drop a treat.'

18) Play a shared game: p62.
a. '1. Start with your dog on a flat collar, or harness, and trailing leash. Choose a toy that is big enough for you both to hold. Wiggle the toy along the ground and encourage your dog to mouth it. When he takes the toy, stroke him, praise him and have lots of fun. 2. While you are both holding the toy, stroke your dog but quietly pick up the end of the leash before you release the toy so that your dog cannot bounce away with it. 3. When your dog is happy to share the game and to give up the toy when you ask for it using the 'off' or 'leave' cue, start to throw the toy a short distance, but leave the leash trailing so you can contain the game.'

19) Introduce the fun retrieve: p63.
a. '1. Put a toy on the ground and when your dog looks at it, click and treat. Repeat this a couple of times. 2. When your dog looks at and then begins to move towards the toy, click and treat. Repeat this a couple of times. 3. Wait until your dog moves forward and touches the toy. Click and treat and repeat so  that your dog understads the game. 4. Continue to slowly shape the behaviour until your dog is picking up the toy. 5. Once he has grasped the idea that you want him to pick up the toy, callhim to you as he picks it up and turn away to encourage him to come to you. If he drops the toy, encourage him to go and pick it up again.'

20) Teach the recall: p64-65.
a. '1. Start at home where there are few distractions. Every time you remembre that you have a dog, call his name and say 'come'. Have your hand in front of you holding a tasty treat and draw him towards you. Make sure you are standing or sitting upright as this will encourage him to come closer; if you lean forward he will probably hang back. 2. As he arrives let him scent the food you have in your hand. Raise your hand slowly so that as he lifts his nose to follow it, he will sit. Give the reward. Use calm, verbal praise and avoid high pitched tones. 3. Talk to and touch your dog and on some recalls give a small piece of food every few seconds. It is essential he learns that it is worth staying with you, rather than simply grabbing a treat and running off.'

21) Start line training for recall: p66.
a. '1. Attach the line to your dog's harness and let him go. As soon as he passes you or moves too far away, but well before he reaches the end of the line, call 'this way' and change direction so that you are moving away from him. 2. Use the clicker to help him understand this exercise. Click as he turns and begins to follow. He will continue towards you to get his treat. Remember you are not clicking to gain his attention but to mark that he had already changed direction and started moving towards you. This is the behaviour you want him to repeat. 3. When your dog is consistently changing direction to follow you, drop the line and allow it to drag on the ground.'

22) Introduce recall with a whistle: p67.
a. 'When your dog understands recall with a whistle, it is important to give the high value treats only for a high value recall. If he is lazy in his response, thank him for arriving but withhold the food or give a bland food reward.'

23) Coach appropriate behaviour for greeting children: p68.
a. 'Dogs need to learn how to approach children calmly without bumping into them, jumping up or knocking them over. This can be overwhelming and frightening for small children.'

24) Ask your dog to follow a hand target: p69.
a. '1. With your dog watching you, move your hand a centimetre or so and as he begins to follow it with his nose, click and treat. The treats can be delivered from the hand or dropped to the floor. 2. Gradually extend the distance and time that your dog will follow your hand. Teach him to follow both hands. 3. You can now encourage your dog to follow a hand while walking by your side to gain his attention when he becomes distracted.'
b. 'In potentially distracting situations, use hand targeting to encourage your dog to follow you.'

25) Teach walking on a leash: p70.
a. 'A dog's natural movement is usually much faster than human walking pace so unless you teach your dog to walk slowly and in balance he may find it diffcult to walk without leaning into the leash.'

26) Lead from both sides: p71.
a. 'Teaching your dog to be comfortable being led from either side can be beneficial if you are walking along a busy road or need to switch sides to avoid an oncoming bouncy dog.'

27) Make use of a target mat: p72-73.
a. '1. Put the mat on the ground near your dog. Sit on a step or a chair nearby. When your dog looks towards the mat, click and throw a treat to the other side of the target. 2. As the dog moves back towards you having retrieved the treat and either looks at or touches the target, click and throw another treat over the target. 3. Repeat this step until the penny drops and your dog understands that the click is linked to him interacting with the target. 4. The next stage is to pause for a rew seconds as he stands touching the target then click and treat.'

28) Introduce 'stand' on cue: p74.
a. 'Try standing sideways on to your dog and lure him into a stand position with your fingers curved sideways away from him. This will form the basis of a hand signal. Take care with your hand height: if you hold it too high he is likely to sit, if you hold it too low he may lie down. When he is in position click and treat.'

29) Practise safe travel in a car: p75.
a. 'Take your dog out in a vehicle as soon as you can. Begin by going on short drives that end in a lovely walk so he associates cars with something pleasant. ... Make sure that he has been able to relieve himself before he gets in the car and avoid feeding him prior to travel to limit the chances of carsickness.'

30) Work on controlled exits: p75.
a. '1. Ask your dog to sit or stand when you open the door. 2. Clip on his leash and ask him to wait using a hand signal so that he learns not to leap out the moment you step back from the car. 3. Ask him to jump down or lift him if he is small and ask him to sit or stand by the side of the car.'

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Training Video.

We started doing work on stay, but I got bored after five reps and decided to run Lola through her paces. I'm going to start doing at least one session like this a day; even if I don't do work on a new trick, I'd like to at least try and remember to put Lola through her paces.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Blood and Water.

Today, Lola's brother Rocky came over to visit--and to come on a walk with us.

It was great to see him (and his owner, Daisy). It's strange to look at Lola and Rocky together; in some ways they're so similar, in others extremely different. Lola is the only one of the litter with scruffy fur (she's not quite wirey, but she isn't exactly smooth either), and Rocky's felt so soft compared to hers! He's also chunkier, slightly shorter-legged and has a slightly thicker, shorter tail. When they were together, L looked almost gangly, which was odd.

The two have inherited from their mum the tendency to stick right next to you on walks. They only ventured away to play and follow Jess, really; otherwise both of them stayed close. It was really adorable to have them both out!

Rocky still doesn't like to go downstairs, whilst Lola managed to get over her fear of stairs within a week or so of being here. We managed to get Rocky to follow Lola down the steps throughout Alkies park, but he did not want to come down the stairs back at my house. Daisy tried to coax him down with dry biscuits and he would only wave a paw toward the next step; I tried a meat stick, and he eventually slid down onto the next step, then down the four or so until he reached the ground. He's such a laidback little puppy, too: L looks downright neurotic next to him. She's also much more drivey and enthusiastic; her recall is quicker, her 'down' super-fast, and she licks at your face absolutely frantically compared to chilled-out Rocky.

When we got back from the hour and a half (or so) walk, the puppies conked out, played for a bit, then conked out again, whilst Jess took on the Very Important Task of chewing an antler. Daisy and Rocky arrived at about half ten and left at about twenty to two; so by the time they left, L was exhausted. She's slept solidly since half two; and even Jess, who didn't really lower herself to play with a young boy-dog, seems knackered by all that running (and ignoring my recall commands, hmm). Hopefully we'll be seeing Rocky again soon! It was fab to see him: such a chunky, handsome little dog!

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Antlers, Shopping and Training.

Jess and the small Stagbar antler.

Yesterday, Lola's new collars from Scrufts arrived--Pixie Dog and Foxy Dog. The foxy dog collar/lead set is especially adorable, but her old collar had a pink heart tag which looked better with the pixie collar; so she's wearing that right now. We decided today to get her a tag for the foxy collar.

This morning, I worked on Lola on her stay. We've been working on this using training logs and Jean Donaldson's push-stick-drop method: and it's going pretty great. She's up to being able to do five for five reps of a ten-second stay. It's definitely more efficient and practical to do logs whilst training; it really helps to stop and make notes, and has helped me to learn how to better motivate L during our work.

Later on in the morning, at about half eleven, the Stagbar antlers I ordered from pure dog arrived. Both of the girls were initially baffled; Lola took the initiative in a slight mouthing of it, and soon realised it was edible. It's Jess, however, who quickly decided that antlers are the best thing ever. Except for an hour or so of playing with a filled frozen Twist n Treat, J has been chewing at an antler all day - and has only succeeded in taking maybe an inch off of one. I reckon these will last at least a week, with any luck. If they do I'll probably get more, as they are expensive but they will really help clean the dogs' teeth if they're chewing them constantly.

We also went shopping--and spent almost £50 at Pets At Home, when we went there only to get a tag for Lola's foxy dog collar. We bought the tag (it'll take a week for it to arrive with us), and also bought: a large box of dental chews (with peppermint) for Jess, a 2kg bag of biscuit treats, a Busy Buddy Chuckle, a Wiggly Giggly Jack, a 140g bag of puppy treats, a Wlpet Training Treat Ball, a large (and rock solid) rubber ring to chew, a Happy Pet Tough Wobbly Nobbly Toy and a Happy Pet Boingo Ball.

When we got back, the dogs were ecstatic with all their stash!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Exploring the Unexplored.

Thought - Inspiration - Idea - Concept.

Today we visited the Millenium Green. It's a place only five minutes or so from me--about as far as the park we usually go to--but I always forget about it for some reason. I generally don't bother with that side of town; and I'm a creature of habit, lazily just visiting the same places over and over again.

The Millenium Green is a really cool place. It runs past Pendle Water; on one side of the canal you have the Green, on the other side you have the beginning of the industrial estate. It's an interesting juxtaposition. I love taking photos of the girls in places where nature meets humanity; what better way to echo the nature of dogs themselves, little shreds of tamed wilderness.

The girls enjoyed getting out--and I enjoyed taking them somewhere that wasn't that filthy. Alkincoates Park is huge, and absolutely slick with mud when it has rained within the last five or six days. Hell, if there's been dew in the past couple of days, Alkies will still be wet. The Green, however, wasn't too bad. It was definitely better than just an on-lead walk around town.

The girls' Busy Buddy Twist'N'Treat arrived today. Jess immediately clamped a foot on it and began rolling it around, rather than trying to pick it up and then drop it as she does with her Kong. I quite like the design of it; it screws quickly and easily into place, and can be adjusted very easily to change the difficulty with which they can get at the treats. Jess had it on the second-hardest twist, but I'll probably let Lola have it on a slightly easier mode when she has a try tomorrow.

The girls have been quiet since we got back from the Green. Maybe the graffiti-like awesomeness of the place has struck them silent, for once.

Yarn Puppy.

Lola decided that the 'sweatband' I was knitting would be cuter as a little neckscarf for her. I think she was right.