Tuesday, May 30, 2006

It's not my fault!

Are you so sure about that?

Something as simple as sit and down should be easy to teach, right? You'd think so, but Bullet and I have been having a problem with it! Oh, he knows how to sit and down, that wasn't it. It was that his responses weren't nearly as accurate as I wanted. Why? It wasn't from lack of trying on his part, he'd get it wrong so enthusiastically I had to laugh.

It was all solved in one weekend listing to Denise Fenzi from Sprite Belgians talk on obedience. What was I doing wrong? The answer was simple. The sound of my "sit" and "drop" were too similar. By making the word "sit" a higher tone and "drop" a lower tone, we're back in action.

Now why didn't I figure that out?!

When Cyder's trainer told me that she'd been 'trained' to go through people's legs, I admit, I went into defense. "I didn't 'train' Cyder to circle through people's legs! How dare she say that?" When I calmed down and I started thinking again, I realized that I did in fact train this behaviour. By doing nothing to stop it, I allowed it to develop into a quirky habit. That's part of training.

It's so much easier to blame our animals for the things that go wrong when the truth is, it's often our fault. Instead of just correcting the dog, accept the blame, figure out where things went wrong and move on. Easier said than done unfortunately. Ask yourself some questions that might help:

- Does your dog truly understand what you want?
- Do you truly understand what your goals are?
- Are you communicating clearly to your dog?
- Are you moving too fast?
- Are you allowing a bad habit to continue unchecked?
- How's your timing?
- How's your patience?
- Are you being fair to your dog?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

One point club

While we were hiking the trails, Ceilidh was on her own vacation at Chateau Ravenmasque ;)

Sheila kindly looked after her and even showed her on April 30th at Victoria County Kennel Club in Oakwood under judge Ms. J. Rusby, getting Ceilidh one point. Thanks Sheila!

According to everyone's calculations that puts her at 9 points, only one more to go until she's spayed, yipee!

Canicross/backpacking



For Glory and Bullet's first time pulling and backpacking it was an amazing success. The first few minutes I had my doubts as both Bullet and Glory were doing their Tasmanian devil spinning (Glory especially :), but they quickly settled down and loved every minute of it. By the fifth day all four of us were nearly experts!





I got to try both styles of skijoring belts, and I changed lines each trail to find the best length and bungie for me and Bullet. My biggest discovery was that too much bungie wasn't a good thing. When the dog is pulling well it feels like you are about to ricochet off your feet. Not something that's really noticeable at the start of a walk, but by day three after a difficult trail you really feel it. Length of line was also important on the types of trails we hiked. Too long and it would get caught up on branches and bark around corners. Too short and you're too close to the dog.



The hardest part was going downhills. As the dogs picked up speed it became dangerous with the rocky terrain. The trails haven't been cleared from the winter so there were many trees blocking the paths. Some were massive. At these points we had to let the dogs off to pick their own way through the debris and we met on the other side.





Bullet was the main lead dog and he took the job seriously. There were a few times I swore we were still on the trail but he was telling me otherwise by his hesitation. Once back on the trail he put his nose to the ground and went forward with confidence. Yes, he was actively finding his way with his nose and making decisions even when the trail wasn't clearly defined. Very cool. Even the moose & wolf scat didn't distract him.

In total we earned 9 badges for each of the dog packs; One for a Haliburton trail, one Algonquin Park patch and then eight for each trail we hiked in Alqonquin. We all came out with war wounds of blisters, scrapes and bruises but couldn't have asked for better weather.



Resting on the Algonquin trails







Bullet, King of the...

...Forest


...Lake


...Trail


...Waves


...Boardwalk


...Beaverdam