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Archive for January, 2011

Slow Dogs

Nitro doesn’t live up to his name. He isn’t speedy or hyper. Quite frankly he would love to lay on the couch the rest of his life and have someone bring his food to him. Now that isn’t to say he doesn’t love a good romp in the yard with his brother, or playing with a toy here and there. But it has to be FUN for him. It can’t be tedious, take too much effort or anything like that.

I am part of an online group clickcompobedience through yahoogroups. Its lovely – lots of good trainers working hard to get good scores in obedience. Someone suggested Deb Jones “The Need for Speed”. Now this is typically an agility dvd but a lot of things really hit home. My dog isn’t nervous that I can tell but he does stress down, in other words he gets more lazy the more “stuff” that is going on.

After watching it, I decided I need to do some things different to help keep nitro up. I need to provide reinforcers that actually help ramp him up. Here are some things I have found that seem to help

Catching the treat. Why just put it in his mouth, he loves to catch food!

Chasing the treat. You can always toss it. My favorite quote from the video – the squirrel didn’t jump into the dogs mouth did it?

Spin – this doesn’t require jumping which he hates and you can add it into heeling and heavily reinforce it. It also redirects a dog right back to you.

Touch – for him, touching and jumping (nose to hand) is not something he loves. I keep my touches lower to the ground and only ask for a few.

Run through my legs – I have heavily trained cheeseball – throwing a treat between my legs. So if I ask him on a recall or any other time to “go through” he thinks its super fun!

Save your best treats for last. I keep a few favorite treats in my pocket and at the end of our training session I do some heeling. I do random patterns, throw in some auto sits, maybe some spins and end it with a jackpot of his favorite food.

If you have a flat dog, my advice is to watch them and with every exercise figure out – is this amping them up? or flattening them out? Keep track and use it!

Now, we have a trial in a few weeks so we’ll see how this all pays off. He knows the behavior, its just a matter of keeping him in the game!

Dogs Pulling on leash

I have a problem to admit to the world. I have a leash addiction. We have so many leashes hanging up, and my husband teases me endlessly about it. Honestly they all serve their purpose and I’ve used them at different times for different reasons. If you follow my blog you know that I have the worlds strongest dog who has successfully broken a few of my best leashes and landed me straight on my rear end.

With Blaze, I started with a flat buckle collar. Its my preference for most dogs. I quickly figured out I needed something better or my hands and shoulders were going to pay the price. I tried the gentle leader head collar. This seemed to rub on his eyes and he could still pull reallly well with it. The next choice was one of my favorite head collars the comfort trainer. I let someone borrow this but I would like to get another one to try again with him. Either way, he figured out he could flip his head and roll his body – it made our walks less than fun. Most of these I used with my leather braided 4 foot leash. He broke my 3 foot or I would have preferred that.

My next try was the gentle leader easy walk harness. I usually really love this harness. It works great, and is very adjustable. But for my dog? Nope, he pulled as hard as he could in the opposite direction.

I heard a recommendation for the Wags and Wiggles harness. It connects to the front and the back of the harness and has some nice padding on it to keep from rubbing. Well once I figured out how it worked with the special double ended leash, I got it on him and tightened it all up. We headed out and it seemed to work pretty well. The trouble with the easy walk was Blaze learned how to pull sideways, with this new harness it shifts from back to front so it gives me more control. We went for a longer walk and he did really great. Now, he can still pull, but I do’nt think its going to break the leash anymore and I feel like I can control him. When he starts to pass me, I walk backwards. When he is walking nicely beside me, I always reward him. I would have to say this is the Ferrari of dog pulling devices. This is for sale through our friends if you want to purchase one to try for your dog. Make sure you measure!

Snow Storm 2011

We live in the South. We get maybe a few inches of snow a year, enjoy it for a few hours and then it melts. We dont get stuck inside, we dont get cabin fever, until this year.

Its January 11th, 2011. 1-1-11 to be exact, maybe that’s an omen? We got a snow storm followed by an ice storm topped off by freezing fog. I still don’t quite know what freezing fog is, but it makes me want to stay inside. My dogs on the other hand are LOVING this weather. They want to be out, enjoying the cold sniffing all the smells and watching all the kids sledding. We even had a make shift dog park in my back yard with 4 labs. Thank goodness for a fenced in yard!

If you are stuck in the ice indoors here in the south you might be wondering what the heck to do with your new found cabin fever and your dogs going a little bonkers without their normal walks. If you are like me, you’ll get creative – train your dogs people! Today I worked with Nitro on heads up heeling. Blaze is still working on his stand stays for the show ring.

Things to watch out for with snow and ice and your pets. First, dogs CAN get hypothermia. Protect them and warm them if they get wet or too cold. Do NOT leave them out too long. Watch for pad cuts, with ice you can definitely see some paw cuts. Be careful of sidewalks with salt or other chemicals – these can burn your dogs skin and pads, and be dangerous if they ingest it. Be careful of stairs and them slipping, clear off a safe place for them to walk down on and try to keep it ice free.

Here are some snow pictures, hope you enjoy them!



Worlds Strongest Dog

Blaze is a bit of a beast. He’s a sweet beast, but none the less, he is strong. I had Chesapeakes before, and I thought they were strong, but Blaze may just take the cake. Granted he is an intact male, so that doesn’t help either. I’ve written before about impulse control and we are still working on that. When he starts to walk ahead of me on walks I turn and walk backwards and get him back to the correct position. We are also working on leave it with mailboxes (that may take better treats!).

I recently heard about a harness that some say is just amazing for dogs who pull on leash, I’ve ordered one and I am praying that this works for him, otherwise he may just be too strong for me to walk. So far we have tried every management device out there and he is just a strong puller. Maybe age will help too!

I do remember that when Nitro was this age I couldn’t stand walking him. He was an awful puller too. Now, he is a dream to walk. I would love to be able to walk both of them together but for now, we are solo walking.