Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lexus and Bullet

Week by week Lexus is growing up. Puppies aren't a new thing in this house but for some reason her growth continues to surprise me. Her training is evolving as well, here are some training pictures from training this morning. I made sure I was home for the big hockey game... GO CANADA GO!

She's barking more.

She's bringing the toy back to Frankie for him to continue the game.

She holds on tight and is gradually learning to pull backwards. Look at the length of her tail!

She is very calm on her bite.

Bullet loves to slam the helper when he comes into the blind, and will often give a dirty bite before settling in to bark. We've been working on this and he's shown incredible improvement.

Here he is shifting his weight backwards in preparation of the stop and bark.

He's fast. Really fast. This means he must think on his feet and stop just as quickly as he runs. Gradually we've been making it more difficult for him by cracking the whip and pumping him up before I send him in, knowing that will be his state of mind in a trial. Here he is running around Frankie, slamming on his breaks and turning at the same time.


Along with this we've been working on extending the duration of his barking, adding the distraction of myself and others walking around him and other exercises such as running the blinds. I'm very happy with his progress and am looking forward to seeing what this summer brings.

I must go watch the closing ceremonies of the Olympics. It's been a great two weeks, I love Canada!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stubborn? Difficult? Stupid?

We have a crate in our living room for the puppy du jour. It's a plastic Furrarri with a front door that opens from both the right and left side.

I recently changed the direction of this crate, it is now facing into the room rather than the back door where it has been situated since we've had Lexus. Soon after this change I asked Lex to go to her kennel. She ran full speed to where she knew the crate door to be... and stopped in confusion. It didn't take her long to figure out, but it really highlights how dogs don't generalize well and need to be trained in different places for optimum performance. The less experienced they are the more time they need to adjust to new situations.

A few days later I made the simple change of opening her door from the right rather than the left, again she was thrown off. She looked directly into the open crate then went around the door as usual and shoved her nose through the crack between the plastic and wire. She came back around but tried the other approach once more before finally entering her crate. I stood back (silently laughing) and let her figure it out on her own. Once in her crate she got her food.

Lexus is not a stupid dog. She was not being difficult. She wanted her supper but the setup was different. I bet the next time I make a change to the direction/placement of her crate she'll figure it out with little to no hesitation, I'll test that tomorrow. This was nothing but a learning opportunity for her.

Lexus trying to play tough... or maybe just making a funny face :)

In Schutzhund people often train on their club field with their club decoy. This is great for teaching but there will come a time when you will want to take your training on the road. Don't expect your dog to run the blinds, bite a strange helper and do the perfect sendout on a strange field if they have never done it anywhere but at home. That is unfair and unreasonable. It will be damaging to your relationship and their performance if you start to correct them in a situation like this. Be careful and really observe your dog when you think they may be "stubborn" or "difficult". Often it's nothing more than incomplete training.

Take a step back and start with an exercise they'll be successful at. Gradually increase the difficulty to the level they are working at at home. The more places you can train your dog, the more situations you throw them into (where they will be successful), the stronger performance dogs they will be.

Promising youngster

This is a merging of a few photos I took at the GSSCC Regionals last year. My friend loved this female and was contemplating keeping her, which I don't think she did. I wonder where the big girl has gone?

Monday, February 15, 2010

More yogurty goodness

It's good to share.

Down to the last slurp:


Friday, February 12, 2010

Skipping through a life where the sun always shines!

Have you ever been so happy with something that you never wanted it to end? That is how I feel about my Bully.

Although it's silly, I look at him and contemplate life when he's gone. Bullet will be five years old this June, he's young and healthy. Yet time passes frighteningly fast and it's foolish to take life for granted. It is a great gift that is too quickly snatched from us.

This is a bittersweet perspective that I don't regret having. Though I often have death hovering in the back of my mind it encourages me to truly enjoy every single moment. Morbid perhaps, but true. It's the rainy days that make sunny days precious.

Bullet has always been the perfect dog for me. Always there by my side, willing and able to do anything I ask and more, we have a lot of fun together. I'm thankful to have him and look forward to the years to come. There will never be another Bullet.

So on that note, I've been thinking about my next dog. Is it time? Soon, I think. Soon.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Remember Whensday: Coda

Perhaps it's time to plunge into the past for stories of my dogs and fosters gone by.

Coda was a great bikejoring dog, but he would never swim. He'd get as far as his chest and stop. If we were throwing a ball in for another dog he'd wait until they returned to shallow waters and ambush them for the toy if we let him.

With his softer, thicker, faster growing coat and profuse furnishings we'd have to plan for his dips in the water. If we were camping and left it too late in the afternoon we had a wet dog in the tent with us at night. Compare that to Bullet and Glory who are dry after running through a field. I can honestly say I never want what is often called an "American" coated Giant Schnauzer again. Waaaaay too much work to groom, keep dry, clean, burr and snowball free. I don't care how good it can look. Once I shaved Coda down with a number 10 blade, everything but his beard and eyebrows that is. He looked a little odd but I loved it... His breeder not so much. Unfortunately for me it didn't take long to grow back. One thing a coat like that does do is give you lots of opportunities to practice your grooming skills!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Help with an ID?

While caching north of Toronto with Kevin & Bullet we came across this head in a tree. I've done some research online but can't seem to identify what breed this is, I'm guessing it's a ram of some sort?

If anyone can help I'd love to know!

Brilliant blog posts

As I walk the dogs I'm often planning training sessions, problem solving and writing blog posts in my head, all the while taking pictures. Let me tell you... they are all brilliant! Seriously though, by the time I get home I've either forgotten what I was thinking or have no desire to sit in front of my machine and put it together. Ah well, one day. Good thing I'm not paid to do this :)

Until then how about two pictures from my walk yesterday. Bullet has been cooped up and I had to let him out, he wore his boots and I kept him from running. His nail is looking better! He enjoyed the day, and it allowed me to get some trail training on the puppy.

Lexus is growing so fast it's hard to believe she's not even 5 months old yet. She's too "doggy" for my liking, following Bullet or Glory around and not checking in with me at all – I have to focus on being more interesting to her and becoming a source of fun outside. Her recall is great in a training session and at home, but once loose on a trail it is almost non existent. That should be easy enough to fix, I just need to work on it.

Another area that I need to focus on with her is dog meetings. When we cross paths with other people walking their dogs the hair goes up from her withers to her tail. Bullet is excellent with other dogs and I'm hoping she'll follow his lead and become more relaxed. My job has been to make sure the meetings are all positive ones. If I'm unsure about the temperament of an approaching dog I'll turn around or move into the forest until they've passed.