'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, 28 February 2011


...is clearly a psycho. The poor ball didn't know what hit it.

And a (late) Sunday Summary:
Lola's height - about 11 inches.
Lola's length - about 13 inches.

One Puppy = Lots of Noise.

The last couple of days have been hectic; basically, since Angela moved in on Friday. She's now in the little room where Lola has previously been kept. When L first saw her (she was in the kitchen with Jess when Ang brought her stuff in; didn't want to risk either of them dashing out of the door), she was in my mum's bedroom talking to her. Lola had a fit of barks, because she had forgotten someone else was in the house (which is something she does - if someone reappears from upstairs after a few hours, if they've been quiet, she barks at them for a moment or two occasionally). After that, though, she gave her a wide berth for five minutes or so and then was fine the following day.

On Saturday evening, Lola met two of my mum's friends: a man and a woman. The woman she didn't get to see much (she was really agitated, barking manically - the previous disruption to the house and the fact that everyone was getting ready to go out, bar Angela, meant that she was already on edge), and the man she eventually calmed enough to sit near whilst I was in the room. As soon as I left, she stuck to me: I swished into my room, and she followed; she followed me into the bathroom; and downstairs; and into the front room; and so on. She was obviously stressed--she would curl up at my feet whenever I stopped for more than a few seconds, but as soon as I moved she followed at my heels. Poor baby.

Yesterday morning she didn't see my mum's female friend, but the man (who is like a brother to her) stayed over; and Lola was not happy. She barked at him when he came in, settled down eventually, then barked when he made a sudden movement to pick up his drink (from her place on the couch/my lap). When he moved toward us to go into the kitchen, she fled the couch and scurried away from him further into the kitchen, and barked some more before settling. She later watched him move around without a peep. If I'd had the presence of mind, I would have removed her to give her chance to calm down; my head and stomach were hurting enough that all I could do was to mutter 'shut up' and give her treats and strokes when she was quiet.

We may have played 'pose the puppy!' the other day, too.

Friday, 25 February 2011


Today, I decided to go to my old college--months after they sent me a letter asking me to do so, oops--and pick up my A Level certificates. That's in the next town, so I also decided to swing by the post office returns centre in the same town, to save my mum having to make the trip. And I also had to go to the library in my town...

I also decided to take Lola with me, to see how she reacted (and, of course, because I was feeling far too lazy to have to deal with the cleanup when I got back). She's been in my town centre before (quite a few times), but has only ever been to the next town once, and we didn't stay long.

On the way up to the library, we were both startled by a young boy on a (mechnical? remote controlled?) car that made a lot of noise. It spooked Lola completely; though she didn't make a peep, she growled softly a few minutes later at the next kid we saw - a girl in the library who was just stood there. On the way back, we saw five or so other children (including one on a bike, and another that was squealing and asking to stroke her) and she didn't make a sound. I jackpotted her with treats for her eye contact.

After we got back from the library (dumping the new books, grabbing my bag and giving Jess a chance to go to the toilet, which she didn't want to do), we headed straight up to the bus stop and caught the bus to where the Hourglass used to be. From there, we walked down to my old college; on the way, Lola bark/growled at a young boy and his mother (I'd just taken a break from shovelling treats into her mouth). His mother was very understanding when I apologised.

We then headed up into the town centre, and passed a man who, after speed-walking towards us, bent quickly down to stroke Lola (without offering her his hand or slowing first). Lola backed away and barked at him, and I headed on as quickly as I could.

When we got to the centre, the outdoor market (which I'd forgotten was on today) was in full swing - it was packed! At the market, there were children everywhere, and little miss Lola didn't make a sound. She got frequent rewards for being quiet and calm, and I even let her run at a pigeon once or twice. I popped in to say hello to my mum  at her work before I headed to the post office returns to pick up our parcel. I left it with Mum to bring back in the car and spoke to her outside for a bit; until some children (a girl of about ten and a younger boy) came running up to see Lola. Lola freaked and barked, and the kids ran off - and then ran back again, this time shouting 'woof, woof!' at my pup. I started edging away, and when they came running back a third time I just quickly and calmly moved Lola away, out of their sight on the other side of the building. Their mother watched them the entire time, and didn't say a word; apparently, it's okay for your children to harass my dog. If Lola was a Rottweiler, it'd have been a different story entirely.

By the time we got back (on the bus, which Lola snoozed through most of), three hours had passed since we left. Lola hadn't been sick on either bus ride, hadn't had an accident in Mum's work or on the college grounds, and had only barked five times (to four people/groups of people - thrice at children, once at the rude older man). She's now a puddle of tired puppy on my lap.


In other news, I found out today that my mum's ex-boyfriend's daughter is going to be living with us for a month or so. Jeez. She's engaged to a man who, apparently, wants a month's break from her (or something). So: Angela is coming to stay for a while. Mum wanted to put her in the little bedroom (where Lola is when no one can be around), but there's also the option of the front room, which I hope Ang wants instead. It'll be a major hassle to put Lola in the front room, which is three or so times bigger than the little room and has wires and dog food and such in there, all of which can be chewed by eager puppy teeth.

I suppose I should feel sorry for Ang (she does love her fiance, after all), but I'm a selfish cow and I can't help feeling more sorry for us. It's been two years since she last lived here, but for the last six months or so that she was here she was disgustingly messy: leaving cups in her bedroom until they were thick with mould, clothes strewn across the floor, which was never hoovered, and which provided a breeding ground for moths. She also isn't a fan of dogs. But if she's staying here, she'll have to pull her weight, broken heart or not. (I'm really not a caring person, at all.)

I've fallen in love...

...with Amber, a JRT girl (approx two years old max) at a RSPCA shelter near me. I've forbidden myself from going to the shelter because if I see her in person, I will probably end up bringing her home. And at the moment, with Lola being so young (five months and still having housetraining issues when left alone) and me having to be out four days a week at university, it's just not appropriate.

I'm hoping that either a fantastic family gets her... or maybe next year, when I'm at uni three days a week tops and Lola will be older... Well, we'll see. I really, really want her though!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Growing Up.

Earlier today, I caught Lola chewing something - which she wouldn't trade for kibble, as she usually will. I was worried she'd gotten something dangerous (as I'd been eating chocolate biscuits in the room ten minutes or so before, and I'm paranoid about them ingesting things that are poisonous) and wanted to keep it, so I pried open her jaws and looked inside. And I was rewarded with blood on my fingers, and the guess that she was chewing a tooth. Okay, ew.

I promptly put it out of my mind, as I am wont to do, and about ten minutes ago we were playing around (all of us wrestling and playing tug) when this happened:

It's the first tooth of Lola's that I've seen (and I'm not sure how many she's lost so far), and it's so tiny! But it's still bigger than I thought it would be, truth be told. And I guess this is the biggest sign so far that my little hand-sized bundle of chub and fur is growing up.

Tricky T-Day 1.

So, I decided we're going to try and do tricky t-day. I say try because I have the worst memory in history; and I have a lot of university work I'm having to do at the moment. This isn't a new trick we've learned specifically for this, but I might as well show it off. By next week we'll have something new I'm starting to work on the foundations of for her.

For now, here we go:

Tricky T-Day 1: Find Your Sister.


Yesterday, Lola's brother Rocky came to visit for five or so hours. Because the weather was horrible, the walk we took was brief and on-lead, so there was no piles of sleepy puppies to photo. They spent most of their time playing (wrestling and eating each other), but we had a couple of problems: namely, fighting.

Lola and Rocky (and Jess, of course) have met each other before. My girls are fine with other dogs coming into the house, even without having to have met them outside first. Rocky, however, must not have felt entirely comfortable; he lunged at Lola (though not Jess) whenever she came too close, starting very loud, fast and flashy fights. Each time we separated them and put them into a different room to cool down, and then they would be fine for a while. Apparently Rocky doesn't do this at his home (where he lives with three other dogs, including his and Lola's mother), but like with Lola and Jess all of the others are older than him. Perhaps he was overwhelmed by being at ours, and took it out on the similarly-aged puppy (who isn't an angel either; she gave as good as she got and more).

It was interesting to see the behavioural similarities and differences between L and Rocky. There are physical differences of course; he is still chunkier (not fat, just more heavily built) and he is still a little shorter than Lola (in height and in length). And of course he has smooth, short and silky hair, whilst L's is longer, scruffier and slightly more coarse. But the behavioural differences are much more interesting.

- Both dogs have a tendency to air-snap at other dogs that come too close when they're getting a treat. Lola does it to Jess, Rocky does it to some of the others there.

- Rocky is much more laidback around the house; or, rather, he's not as drive'y and frantic as Lola. For instance, Lola (and one of her sisters, apparently) has a habit of air-snapping at your face amidst giving you licks. Rocky also takes treats much more nicely than Lola (or, for that matter, Jess).

- Lola is a lot quieter than Rocky outside. Oh yes, apparently he found his voice especially last week, and he barks at e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. Dog? Screechbark. Person? Barkbarkbark. Everything is given a sharp yap (and considering it is the same sort of pitch as Lola's high bark, it was quite painful to hear). He also pulls more on lead, and doesn't check in as much as Lola (I'm not stupid, though: I know she only checks in for the hope of getting a treat, which happens sporadically).

- Rocky and Lola's "main" difference (or the most prominent thing for me) was their quickness to try new things. Rocky hasn't been taught with aversive methods, but he also hasn't really played around with training. He knows how to sit and give his paw - and that's about it. We worked for maybe twenty minutes (with two clickers and two different items; we tried first with my new--and extremely quiet--clicker and the stool I usually start shaping with, and then moved on to my extremely loud clicker and a moneybox, which rattles slightly when touched) to shape him to try and touch the object. It was only in the last few minutes that he started taking slow steps towards the object. On the other hand, Lola (who has played the shaping game before) was readily smacking the moneybox, then a remote, and then a big plastic box.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Lola - Five Months Old (yesterday!)

Apparently, this is my week for milestones and a distinct lack of memory; I didn't realise until today that yesterday, Lola became five months old.

I might be biased, but I think she's as cute as a button - and even more adorable now than when she first came home.

Friday, 18 February 2011

(Late) Gotcha Day.

Last Tuesday was Jessie's 'Gotcha Day.' Being as I was so swamped with university work, I didn't realise until the next day - so Jess got to celebrate her life with us on Wednesday with new antlers from Pure Dog (they are pricey but they last forever - and although I put an order in only on the Monday they arrived on the Wed), and with a nice long walk along the canal in the sun.

Of the two, Jess is by far the most trying. She has the typical Beagle reaction to being outside - unless I have a slab of raw meat, I no longer exist. Over the years, her recall has improved (when there are few distractions) and deteriorated (around other dogs). Her 'aggression' toward other dogs has increased; though I am loathe to call her aggressive (as once she knows a dog, she is very fair and tolerant - and she is fantastic with puppies). She doesn't have a huge prey drive, but one of the conditions for her adoption was that she could NOT be rehomed with cats. And I have seen why; she has thankfully never caught a cat, but given her reaction I know exactly what she would do. Even now, having been with us for seven years, she reacts to the word 'cats' with an intense alertness she never otherwise shows.

Despite all this, my old girl has taught me a lot about patience and self control. By nature, I am easily stressed out; I'm a nervous person, often. And Jess knows just how to annoy; blowing off her recall, air snapping at other dogs, pretending she doesn't want the toilet and standing there staring at you until you push her out the door - to which she responds by going to the toilet.

She is a stubborn, people oriented dog who I would trust with a child. She loves people; in the summer, her favourite game is to run ahead of me and leap up onto an occupied bench to elicit attention. If it wasn't for her selectivity with dogs, she'd be fantastic - I can deal with her ignorance around the house. And in retrospect, I probably wouldn't have chosen her if I knew now what I hadn't then; as an eleven year old, I was ill equipped to deal with her.

But, of course, I'm glad now I have her. She might have the worst smelling feet in history, she might forget to listen to us and she might lunge at other dogs, but she's mine, the bad and the good. She's now eleven years old and, although she's healthy, I do see signs of her age. I just hope I have more time with her - more fun and annoyances to come.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Sunday Summary.

Dogs - Physical (Lola):
Height: 10 inches.
Length: about 12.25 inches.

Dogs - Training:
> Lola's 'find your sister' is going great--though it's no longer just targeting Jess' muzzle with her own. We're at the point where she has about 90% accuracy (though not from cold), and will run to and jump at Jess from the other side of the room.
> We've been working on Lola's fear of her crinkly cat-tunnel, and she'll now run through it (working on putting that to cue; it'll be good to get her used to that little tunnel, so she can charge through, before we do any work on agility) a lot of the time, though she does sometimes still put a paw in and leap back as if shocked.
> I spent today's food (most of breakfast and dinner) for Lola working on shaping something new: Lola biting my finger. It sounds weird--it's at odds with teaching her not to bite--but I think it might help in having her let me touch her muzzle/mouth whilst she's 'working.' After a five min session this morning, she was readily nipping/mouthing at my finger; after tonight's session she was taking my finger in her mouth, though chewing it a little. There was only one time when she bit my finger--this morning, accidentally--but since then she's had quite a soft mouth, even when excited. It might be a good idea for me to do it a couple of times a week, to help get her to be/keep her relaxed about my hands near and on her mouth, and to help promote no nipping.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Lola versus Snake.

Lesson One in the house: Don't believe the Older Dog when she growls at you. She just wants to play; you may continue to leap on her head and sides without concern.

Even after a certain someone--not naming any names, JESSIE--almost broke my hand earlier trying to kill an annoying dog (her lead was wrapped around my hand so tightly that afterwards, my fingertips were numb), I can't help but love these silly dogs.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

N-Q Wordless Wednesday.

It's not the best quality photo, but I couldn't help but choose this one.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


This is the face of Adorable Squishy Puppy, right? Actually it's the face of oh my god I love that toy give it to me again! I want to chase! Lemme tug! But, I digress. You would be forgiven in thinking so; you didn't come home to not one, two, three, four or five, but six accidents in the puppy room. Thankfully she hit the newspaper every time, so it was just a case of bundling it up and putting it in the bin, but she'd also thought to spill her water everywhere and had rolled her little puppy bed into a pile of poo.

To add insult to injury, someone has apparently forgotten how to sit. Yeah, I dunno. But it seems we've practised 'down' so much that that is her default behaviour; sitting is for old dogs and losers, and she'll be damned if she doesn't fling herself into a down every time I so much as clear my throat if my hand is hovering near the treat tub or clicker. Hmm. I guess we're spending tonight's dinner on cue discrimination.

She has also 100% forgotten how to stand, even with my general lazy hand signal. I suck at teaching stand--I only taught it to Jess about a year ago, and that basically involves Jess moving into a stand on her way to move closer to my hand. Any tips on teaching a stand would be greatly appreciated, so we can go back to doing puppy pushups!

Monday, 7 February 2011


Lola's new room gets the stare of approval.
Today, I spent about five hours cleaning. About two hours of that included shredding paperwork we've had since 2005/6, amazingly enough. I ended up with papercuts and two bin-bags and two carrier bags full of envelopes and shredded bills, etc. However I can now say that I officially have two dog rooms in my house--the front room is going to be the training/agility room (once I get some instant-cement or sand to fill tins with, to hold my weave poles and jumps upright), and the bedroom of mum's friend, who has now left, is to be Lola's room when we aren't there, as she just despises her crate.

In the room is a leather stool we don't use (covered in a pink blanket and old dressing gown), Lola's bed (which she rarely uses, but hey ho) and a new dog bed (which is a soft, furry cover that zips up around a thin pillow). She also has three toys (yellow ring, rainbow interlocking thing and her squishy pink bone), which will be cycled and changed for three others every couple of days. On top of that, on the higher shelf there is currently a kong and busy buddy twist n treat, the bigger antler, and a bull pizzle stick - all of which will be presented to her when she's alone tomorrow. (For about three hours, from half 12 or so to half 3 when I return.) I think she'll definitely be happier there.

For the last few days, we've been putting her in mum's room or just leaving her in the living room with newspaper down when we've been out for an hour or so (as my mum has been off work), and she had a great success rate in hitting the newspaper in mum's room but not in the living room. So I'm hoping she'll be able to hit the paper in the 'dog room', and that it won't drive her to insanity quite as much as being in the crate did. I think part of the problem with the crate was that she could see and smell Jess (free to roam as she pleased), and it was in a place where she was usually free to wander in, making her confused about why she was being trapped away. So: if the ex-bedroom works, we'll keep her in there when we're not there until she's able to hold it for a few hours before someone's back to let her out.

In other news, I spent tonight's dinner kibble on teaching Lola that, yes, she has paws: I gently rested my forefinger and middle finger on each of her legs, and she got a c/t whenever she lifted the paw I touched. For her back paws, I had to use a little pressure, just enough to make her move the paw, and alternated that with lifting the paw up myself if she didn't move it within two seconds. For the first half, that went fine, but she seemed to lag a little; so I brought out her beloved rabbit tug.

It gave me an interesting insight into her mindset, that's for sure. As soon as the toy was out (after letting her chase it and tug it for a few seconds), she didn't want to be touched. She was Working, and she wanted that toy. I managed to click a few times when her paws left the ground shortly after me touching them (it was the best I could do; she was jumping around like a rabbit herself), but she just promptly spat out the kibble.

So I changed my tactic: I touched her paw, I clicked when she lifted it, and she got to chase and tug the Special Toy. She was in heaven! She retained her manic energy, but calmed down enough when standing to let me touch her. So unless I want to pin her in place and shovel really high-value treats into her mouth, I think that using the Special Toy to increase her arousal and drive will work great. I'm going to spend tomorrow's dinner on clicking for letting me touch her mouth, and we'll see if that works faster than doling out the kibble while she tries to dodge my hand when it comes too close to her muzzle.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Sunday Summary.

Dogs - Physical - Lola
Height: 9.5 inches.
Length: about 12 inches.

Dogs - Training
> Lola's 'bang, bang' is coming along great! She will now do it for either my mum or myself, anywhere around the house, with about 90% accuracy. She'll even do it in front of other people in the house (she gets easily distracted by more exciting things, like people she knows and likes), and with Jess a couple of inches from her. The next step is to practice outside of the house, and lift the accuracy to about 95% on one cue before I pronounce it 'done'.
> We've been doing some more shaping; I'm working on getting Lola to put her front paws up on a stool at the moment, eventually to the cue 'knees up'. I'm going to then change it to putting her paws on people's knees, other solid items, etc. She seemed to really, really enjoy working with the stool tonight especially--no frustrated barking or whining, and she only stopped and stared at me twice in a five min session.
> Tonight, we started work on a double-dog trick: Lola targeting Jessie's muzzle with her own. So far, L seems to be enjoying herself (though I've had to be very careful not to c/t any aggressive behaviour from Lola, who isn't always happy to have Jess too close when we're training), and J was happy to sit there and be fed treats every two-three times Lola got a treat. I'm hoping to add a cue, and then give it some distance in the next couple of days, so that I can ask Lola to 'find your sister.' I'm not sure if I'll be teaching Jess to do the same, though; something tells me that L won't be quite as happy to sit still and be used as target practice.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Eighteen Today.

Today is my eighteenth birthday. I've celebrated so far by going to see Russell Howard at the Manchester M.E.N Arena last night (he is, hands down, the funniest person in the world), by having my hair cut and highlighted, and by being happy I've got my family and friends in my life.

Tonight, I'm going out drinking with a few friends. This should be fun.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Newfound Bottle Love.

Please ignore the furry carpet! The madness occured before my daily cleaning.

Bang, Bang Breakthrough. (Bangthrough?)

It only took a couple of repetitions today (having done no work since the 200 reps the day before yesterday) of me saying 'bang bang' and then adding the physical cue before a certain little princess decided she knew exactly what I wanted. She did it three times without the physical cue needed, and then on the fourth time she just watched me when I spoke. I decided to wait her out; and a couple of seconds later, she whined and dropped onto her side.

JACKPOT, girl!

After that she just *got* it. She did it almost perfectly, even doing discrimation between 'down' and 'bang, bang' (though asking her to sit was apparently Cruelty Personified). She is the cutest little thing ever when she does it, and I even captured, on the second vid, what looks like it could be an extremely adorable roll-over. I'm going to work on just verbal cue for the next few sessions, adding distance (right now I have to be sat next to her, quite close) and a little duration, and then start generalizing it to other places.

In other news, I went to the Reedyford Dog Training Club yesterday, and have mixed opinions about it. I was watching the puppy class (I got a lift, so took the Annoying Rat, who yapped a few times on-off), and I was definitely happy to see treats being used (though admittedly not many) and the use of a few minutes' play between reps of sit and down. On the other hand, one of the women waiting for the class immediately after (Starters, for dogs over 12 months) was talking about how she'd used a shock collar on her Labrador. When it was just leaning over to sniff a baby.

...What. Because yeah, teaching your dog that infants are the source of pain and confusion is a great plan. Simply marvellous! However because this sounded like something that had happened outside of the class, obviously, I have no idea if the main instructor agrees with shock collars. I just know I won't be a-using one on Lola; not now, not ever.

I think I'll go to the puppy class again next week, but just hedge my bets. It's only £25 (the other one, at Trinity Training, was £55) and it seemed vaguely relaxed, ish. Definitely more pleasant methods than the TT class; though none of the people who brought dogs even really looked at each other, much less spoke to one-another. Hm.

Either way, it was a great experience for my little rat (who may have been threatened with being drop-kicked into the wall if she didn't stop her yapping right now when I was trying to dig more treats out of my pocket), who showed off rep after rep of sit, down, touch and paw; all in a brand new place, and at one time with strange dogs only a metre or so away! And then on the way back she threw up, which wasn't so fun, but hey.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Another Not-So-Great Morning: Hurrah for February.

I was woken up this morning, before my alarm went off, by the dogs whining and moving around. I got up to take them outside and heard my mum screaming. I headed into her room quickly, with the dogs in tow. Lola barked at her (obviously alarmed by the intermittent scream/keening noise she was making) and Jess tried to jump on the bed to see her.

I got Amanda up, and we had the ambulance there within five or so minutes. Mum's blood sugar was awfully low - 1.8, where it really needs to be between 4 and 7. They had to put an oxygen mask on her and give her a glucose drip, and it was only after that that Mum seemed to come to a little; focusing on people, trying to claw the oxygen mask off of her face.

They managed to get her back to normal (blood sugar 9.1 before they left) and she's fine now, just dry mouthed and a little shaky. I'm staying off university to be with her and keep an eye on her.

It is not good that this is her second incident in three days. She hasn't had one previously for about a year, the New Years Eve before last. I hope these problems stop; they are really horrible, and we were all panicked, including the dogs.