Sunday, August 30, 2009

Maggie's water bark

I wanted to try out the video feature on blogger, so here goes.....

We got a lot of rain last week. Heck, we've gotten lots of rain this summer. Pete took the dogs out for a walk the day after some heavy rain, and they got to play in the water-filled swales next to the bike path. Well, Maggie and Denzil got to play. Ziggy preferred to stay dry.

Try to catch Maggie's high-pitched water bark. She only does this bark when biting at the water. It makes me smile!

Another seminar! Nancy Reyes

Ziggy and I went to another seminar on Saturday. The title of the seminar was "building focus" - so how could I resist taking my distracted boy? And this one was at a nice training facility only an hour down the Mississippi...

The seminar was with Nancy Reyes - a trainer near Chicago who runs a training facility, trains a lot of folks in Rally & Obedience, and works a lot with rescue dogs. She's a strong believer in building a relationship with your dog, and giving the dog choices in training - allowing the dog a chance to figure out on their own what's right.

So what did Ziggy and I learn?

A couple of the games we've played before with our normal trainer - the "watch me" game wherein the corgi gets lots of treats and praise when they choose to look at their mother instead of all the other stuff going on, and the "follow me" game wherein said corgi gets lots of treats and praise for choosing to be with their mother when she's just wandering around and the corgi is off leash.

We got to try some new stuff, too - some new ways to proof stays and recalls.

The biggest value for me, though, was the chance to work with and proof Ziggy in a new environment with lots of distractions. I really need to work on building Ziggy's confidence - and that will only happen if we get out and have some fun in new situations.

Ziggy got lots of compliments this weekend - quite a few people commented on how handsome he is :) and how unusual it is to see a Cardigan in performance.

True to his breed Ziggy did one of the exercises a bit differently than the other dogs.... The last exercise we tried was the "follow me" exercise with distractions. The distractions in this case were 2 people sitting in the ring holding treats. One was in a chair, the other was sitting on the floor. All the other dogs, during their turn, immediately ran over to the sitting people and started looking for treats.

We got in the ring and I let Ziggy off leash. It was just the 2 of us and the 2 sitting people. Ziggy looked at me, looked at the people sitting on the ground, and gave me the strangest look like "why are these strangers sitting on the floor being so quiet? Something must be wrong. What am I supposed to do." He stopped and stood there, looking perplexed (I'm just happy he didn't bark to warn me about their strange behavior, which is what he would have done a few months ago). So we changed the exercise into the "go say hello" (my phrase) exercise. Ziggy got to go over and visit these odd people just sitting on the floor. When he got to them he got treats. Then his mother tried to call him off the nice, treat-giving people. I guess we need to work on recalls, too....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A missing student

Here's a picture of my son's "class":

His class does things like reading books (each student gets set on the floor with a book of their own), doing show-and-tell, taking naps, etc. It's so sweet to watch the boy teach his class. Each student seems to get an equal amount of attention, and he likes them all. Each one was hand-picked by the boy from an even larger selection of stuffed animals. (I'm pleased to say that all but one of his stuffed dogs made it into class -- maybe my indoctrination is working!). The boy is also old enough to know if one of the class is missing, and he'll go to look for the missing student.

Soo... You can imagine my dismay when I found this in the living room one day, surrounded by a pile of stuffing(!):

My first words to the husband were "there's been a terrible accident." Thankfully the canine culprit didn't chew the tag off the bunny. My next stop was eBay. Someone had the very same bunny at a great "buy it now" price. Then, I cleaned up the evidence so the boy wouldn't have to view the scene of the crime. Finally, I made up a story to tell the boy when he noticed the bunny's absence, and coordinated this story with the husband. (In case you're wondering, bunny went on vacation to visit his grandparents and was out of class for a week).

Bunny is now back in class, and we don't seem to have missed a beat.

Using my best detective skills, I believe I've identified the perp:

Don't let the innocent face fool you. I caught him carrying another student off the next day (I recovered this student wet but fully intact).

Now I'm militant about the class being put in a tote every night.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hair tumbleweeds on the carpet?!?

The boys (husband, child) and I arrived home from vacation last night. We were visiting my parents in SW Washington State, and none of us wanted to leave. Except to come back to the pets, of course.

We have a wonderful house sitter who stays in our home and takes care of the pack while we're gone. I don't know what we'd do without her. Last night, I called her to tell her we were home safely, and to apologize for the state of the house. Please see explanation below.

We also have our house cleaned once a week. Once a week, that is, unless one of the amazing house-cleaning duo is injured. They haven't been in to clean for the last 2 weeks, and the dogs are also shedding like crazy. Not a good combination.

I vacuumed a bit before we left, but we still came home to hair tumbleweeds everywhere. I'm used to seeing hair built up in the corners of our laminate floor. I've never before seen hair tumbleweeds on the carpet. Yet, that's what I came home to yesterday - not a pretty site. I had to empty the Dyson 5 times, and I didn't even vacuum under the furniture.

I should have taken some pictures, but I was too ashamed. Now I'm off to furminate 3 corgis.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just the 2 of us.

Ziggy & I had our bi-monthly private lesson w/ our local trainer last week. Ziggy was pretty good, but had some of the same (lack of) attention issues if we stopped moving for too long.

My instructor observed that, most of the time when Ziggy wasn't paying attention to me, he was paying attention to Maggie & Denzil who were waiting ringside in crates.

Her suggestion: Ziggy and I need to spend some time together - just the two of us. In theory, this will help Ziggy bond more with me. And I must admit that I spent a LOT more alone time with Maggie and Denzil than I have with Ziggy (reinforcing my theory that it all comes back to being the handler's fault).

Soooo, I've set a goal to go on "dates" with Ziggy twice a week. Once a week it's agility. Which leaves one other outing with just the two of us together. Last week I took him to our club meeting and stayed late to work on obedience & agility. Ziggy loved it - he got lots of pets from club members and he spontaneously showed off his new trick - bowing (I think he was hoping to get treats, too) AND he got to play some obedience and agility.

I'm just thinking it's a good think The Husband doesn't read my blog much. I'm not sure he'd appreciate that I'm planning dates with Ziggy instead of him....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Well, a corgi does need some bling!

I've been thinking about getting an obedience collar for Ziggy for a while now (Maggie told me she's tired of sharing), then I learned about this guy in NH who custom makes them.  I couldn't resist.  I also couldn't resist having a little "bling" added.  Ziggy doesn't have much white on him, and I thought it would look nice.

The collar arrived on Monday, and I LOVE it.  I'm a bit more impressed with it than Ziggy is.  He was hoping that the package contained more treats!

Here are some pictures...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Glass of wine + online dog supplies =

On the up side, now I have plenty of training treats!  These are my favorite for clicker training, as they're small and not sticky/gooey/smelly, etc.

Whittling down my inventory of dog treats is yet another incentive to train.  Watch out corgis!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

What to do at night in New York City.

One of the things I like about my job is that it gives me the opportunity to travel.  Not too much, just enough.  This week a colleague and I were in New York City.  We worked all day and went out to nice dinners in the evening.  Being from the Midwest, we saw no reason to wait until it was "fashionable" to be at dinner.  We ate dinner early and got done early.  So what is a woman to do with time on her hands in the evening in NYC?

Read Front and Finish magazine in her hotel room, of course!  Okay, so that's what I did.  Oh, and I got to bed early.  With a full time job and a pre-schooler, I miss sleep.  Sweet sleep.  But I digress.  

One of the articles I read (written by Kathy Lang) was about being clear and consistent about what you expect of your dog.  I am really trying to be the best handler and trainer I can.  I get that using the same command for different behaviors, or a different command for the same behavior, is confusing.  I thought I was being consistent.  Until I started to do the exercise listed in the article.  

This exercise involves of writing down every command (hand signals, verbal, etc.) that you use, or intend to use, with your dog AND writing down what you want this command to mean.  Since I had some time on my hands, and my laptop, I started a spreadsheet (I'm a bit addicted to Excel) with each of the commands I use with Ziggy.  I included "around the house" commands like "leave the kitty" and obedience, rally, and agility commands.  Then I started to add some definitions.  

I'm not done with the list yet (I'm up to 75-ish commands), but I can already see some areas of inconsistency/overlaps in commands that I'll need to fix.  If I can figure out how to attach a pdf to my blog, I'll post the list when I'm finished and have cleared up the overlaps.

This one's really got me thinking, though.  I need to clean up my act....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Denzil's feeling a bit better.

Saturday Denzil had an appointment with the chiropractor.  She said he had a lot of stiffness in the middle of his back.  Her best guess is that he'd been "t-boned" causing him some back trouble.  Hmmm.... I wonder who did that to him?  Let's use our detective skills to figure this out.  Do you think it was:  a 10-year-old female who gets irritated if you try to play with her?  Or, could it be the 2-year-old male who outweighs Denzil by nearly 10 lbs and  specializes in body slamming?  I wonder....

At any rate, Denzil is moving much more freely after visiting the chiro and seems a lot happier, too.  I've also been giving him some Deramaxx, which helps with the knee.  

We're planning to take Denzil back to the chiro in 2 weeks - in interim check just in case.

So, it's not all fixed, but at least the boy is in a much better state then he was earlier this week. whew.
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