Monday, December 27, 2010

All dressed up for winter

Here are my guys modelling their ruffwear boots and their coats after our walk yesterday.

And Max looking terribly embarrassed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Winter Gear

When we go out walking in the winter (at least in town where they salt the roads) my dogs wear Ruffwear boots

or a Canadian product called Invisible Boot

Both seem to work well at protecting their paws from the salt and snow - both have their advantages and drawbacks.  The boots have to be put on tightly.  It took me a while to really believe this and if anyone helps me with boots we are sure to lose one.  I also worry that getting their feathers caught in the velcro will pull their hair and hurt them.   Both of my guys sit really nicely to get them on but putting on eight little booties plus coats and harnesses for the morning walk takes longer than the walk!

The invisible boot is a bit messy.  It's non-toxic which is good because my dogs love the taste.  They don't lick it off their paws but when you are waxing up two dogs there is residue on the floor by the time you get done with dog #2 and both my guys would rather stay and clean the floor than go for a walk at this point.  Lately I've been putting the boots on Max and the invisible boot on Rylie as he seems to balk at walking in the boots for the first 50 feet or so.

Unless the weather is such that they get snowballs in their paws it seems that the cold and snow doesn't bother them as they can play in the back yard without a problem.  It's just the salt on our town streets.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Morning Ramblings

Rylie recovered nicely from his tummy problems as soon as we got home.  We haven't had class for three weeks now because of the weather so we are all going a bit stir crazy.  Our walks have been curtailed too because it's been so cold.  We have been out walking for the last few days though.  Max is happy but Rylie balks at the beginning of the walk.  The only reason I can think of is he remembers having salt on his feet.  Once we get going he is fine.  He is the one who will stay out forever in the back yard (without a coat) while Max prefers the warmth of the house so I just don't have any other explanation.

Engineering Guy came home on Tuesday.  It's nice to have him back for a few weeks.  Computer Dude comes home tomorrow so we will have a full house.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dog Camp Day Two

I didn't get my butt kicked even once (although I did get called on a couple of sloppy manoeuvres near the end of the day today).  Rylie had a blast and showed that we really have been working on foundation stuff quite a bit.  I did have him tugging at camp a bit today so I'm pretty pleased with that.  We had a table exercise where the tug was supposed to be the reward for offering behaviours at the table.  I asked what I should do since I knew there was little chance of getting Rylie to tug on the table.  It was suggested I use the exercise time to work on tugging.  The funny part is that Rylie loves tables as he has been well rewarded for the table so he wanted to go on the table.  My partner suggested that I use the table as a reward so that's what I did - Rylie tugs  he gets released to go on the table.  A little bass akwards but he was cool with it.  He also has the "fake tug" down pretty well as he growls and paws at the toy.  My partner would say "release him to the table" as she would think he was tugging and I'd have to tell her he was just faking it lol!  He does keep me on my toes.

Tugging is something my dogs will do at home but not consistently in other environments.  Susan Garret's training philosophy is based on having a tugging dog and I have seen how it builds drive so I can't argue.  I came home with some suggestions on how to build the drive for this as this is the only thing I have "don't wanna don't have to" moments with and I haven't been sure how to work through them.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Flatwork Day 1

Day 1 was awesome.  I was so proud of Rylie - whether it is because the skills in this camp weren't quite such a stretch for me, or I have had that much more training since spring, or just because I met three of the other campers at the B&B at breakfast this morning.  Rylie wouldn't really tug at camp but I didn't let it bother me because I know he will do it at home and in environments that are low stress.  Eventually the rest will come.  My partner for camp was a lady with a lovely poodle  (she was very lovely as well)- he was also more food motivated than toy motivated.  I realized that some of my criteria for reinforcement zone and crate games has been pretty low but again - that's something I can work on.  Rylie was very quick to adapt when I changed criteria on him.  The only downer is that Rylie has the runs.  I even brought water from home because I know his tummy is sensitive but I guess that is his way of handling stress.  I wasn't going to feed him his supper tonight (he had a lot of treats anyway) but he was pretty vocal in his objections to that plan so he got to eat - I sense it might be a longish night.  Hopefully he won't have to go out too often.

We got back to the B&B at about 5 p.m.  The only restaurants I know in the area are fast food so I thought I'd be stuck with that but when I walked in the door the proprietor informed me that soup would be ready in half an hour.  Apparently he always makes homemade soup for the dog camp people so they won't have to pack up their dogs and take them out.  Did I mention I might never leave?

 I hope tomorrow goes as well as today.  Other than the tummy issues Rylie seemed to handle the day well and enjoy it.  He's a great partner.

Katie - yes my head often feels like it is going to explode when I go to these multi-day camps.  My own trainer goes to these camps (and is at this one) and uses the same systems so the concepts aren't totally foreign to me but you get a lot in a two day camp and sometimes I feel like I  need more than what I can get in an hour a week.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Flatwork Camp - The Day before

The camp Rylie and I are going to is only about an hour and a half from my house.  I am an incredibly nervous winter driver so I decided to spend Friday night close by and found a B&B that previous campers I have met raved about.  Our little area of the world has been hit hard by storms all week and last night they were predicting another one tonight.  Being the nervous nelly that I am I e-mailed the B&B to see if they could possibly fit me in tonight so I could drive down mostly in daylight.  I am now sitting on my king sized bed with a complimentary glass of red wine beside me and Rylie on the other side.  I was met at the door and my bags carried in.  Rylie is allowed to be loose in the house (with me watching of course).  There is a fully fenced back yard to take him out in. I wonder if they'd notice if I didn't leave?  Did I mention the gas fireplace in my room?  This was definitely a good idea - now I can sleep in tomorrow and be well rested for camp instead of getting up every hour to see if the storm had started.  For the record the skies were blue on my drive and there is no snow at all here.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I Must Be Crazy

I am heading off next weekend to an agiity handling seminar.  I hemmed and hawed about which dog to bring and I decided to bring Rylie.  Max really shut down after the seminar we went to in the spring and I'm not really sure now.  I do know that he is much fitter and thinner now and he is able to make a mistake without thinking the world has ended but Rylie is a little less soft.  My trainer also thinks he deserves the opportunity to work with me one on one for a weekend.  Rylie is also a little less trained and he tends to be quite vocal when he feels he has been wronged (like when I leave him in his crate and walk away or refuse to throw the ball for him) so it could be interesting.  I know I'll learn a lot and I think I've gotten over being intimidated by being one of the greenest handlers at the seminar (it just means I have more to learn and will surely get my moneys worth).