Friday, July 29, 2011

Rip and the Seminar

As I mentioned in my previous posts on the Laura Romanik Seminar, I took Rip along with me, and had a working spot.  I'm not sure the working spot was great with a green dog, but taking Rip to the seminar was well worth it, as we both learned some important lessons:

Black Dogs are SCARY!!

The first day, we met a couple of new breeds of dog.  Rip was scared of one of these breeds....  The dreaded Newfoundland!

Rip says not to let this innocent face fool you.
The Newfie is a big mountain of a dog 
and it must be thoroughly and vigorously barked at.

There were two Newfies at the Seminar.  The first day Rip did a LOT of alert barking at them.  Even after going up to meet one of the dogs, he still continued to bark.  Not fun.

One of the women I was chatting with mentioned that some dogs don't like black dogs because their expressions are harder to read.  Maybe that's true -- it helps explain Rip's dislike of Gordon Setters, too.

On the second day Rip only did a bit of barking.  On the third day there was no barking at all.  We also got to meet a black Flatcoated Retreiver, and a black Field Spaniel.  On one of the breaks, 2 Newfies, the flatcoat, the field spaniel, and a dobie were all doing stays in the ring.  I made sure Rip got a good and keep-it-positive-aren't-black-dogs-nice look at that scene.  So from a black-dog socialization standpoint, the weekend was great.

No More Playing

While Rip learned that black dogs aren't so scary, I learned that I have been too indulgent with Rip.  I let Rip meet-and-greet-and-play with a few dogs on the first day.  He's a happy, friendly boy, so what's the harm?

I soon realized the harm, as Rip became FIXATED on the dogs he played with.  For the rest of the weekend he would stare at these dogs.  If they got close, he was desperate in his attempts to get to them. Not mean aggression.  Just play drive gone wrong.

This was an "ah-ha" moment for me.  Rip no longer gets free play time with other dogs when we're in a show or practice situation.  I was allowing this to keep him socialized.  I think I overcompensated a bit after Maggie (who in her younger years was not a fan of other dogs) and Denzil (who has some stranger-dog issues when on leash).  In an attempt to make sure Rip didn't have trouble, I'm afraid I've overcompensated a bit.  Time to change the rules and insist on good manners first.

Learning to be Quiet in a Crate

Taking Rip to the seminar, and having him in the hotel with me -- just the two of us -- was also good practice for the life of a performance/show dog.  He got to spend quiet time in his crate during the day (he still needs a sheet over the crate so that he stays quiet).  I got to reinforce coming nicely out of the crate.  We got to practice resting in a crate, coming out, warming up briefly, and getting right to work.

Rip also got to learn more about hotels.  Since it was his first solo-dog hotel trip, I didn't leave him alone in the room for more than 1/2 hour total.  But it was good for him to get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of a hotel.  I also learned that Rip barks a few times when I leave, but then quiets down (whew).  I had a room on the ground floor so I left the room, went outside, and stood by the window for a while to wait for the barking to stop.

Hotel Perks

This is the life!
Why do the CATS get the bed at home?!?

Rip also learned that being a bed dog is fun.  He tried unsuccessfully to jump up a couple of times (it was a tall bed), so I thought, "what the heck?" and I put the ottoman near the bed so Rip had stairs.  Needless to say the naughty boy loved sleeping with me on the bed.  Next time I'm brining an extra sheet to put over the duvet.  I used some extra towels I had with me to create a sleeping spot on the bed, but - as the picture shows - Rip ignored those completely.

All told -- scary black dogs and restless bed-sharing- dog considered -- Rip and I had a nice weekend.


  1. Hmm, Bogey seems to have the same over-socialization issue. When we travel, he's desperate to meet every dog he sees - obnoxiously so. So are you asking Rip for a specific behavior before he's allowed to say hello or?
    Moira, odd dog that she is, loves big, black dogs. When she was about 9 months old, I took her to a fun match in CT. There was a younger Newfie there that she fixated on do I asked the owner if we could say hello. Moira walked up to the dog, who was lying down, sort of stood up on her hind legs, put her front laws on either side of his face and just looked in his eyes. I've never seen her flinch or react negatively to a black dog, or a big dog, since.

  2. Interesting...I love reading your experiences with training. Nick has good dog manners but terrible manners with people to the point he can be downright obnoxious at times. Hmmm.

    Rip looks way happy on that bed! You better get him his own cushy bed with pillows and duvet, stat!

  3. @Red Dog Mom - Good point about asking for a behavior before visiting other dogs. I do ask him to sit first, but it's really just a cursory sit. ("See, I sat - now I shall PLAY!!)

    The seminar also made me realize I have allowed a "duration" problem. I've been asking Rip to perform the skill, but not hold it for any length of time. This is fine in the beginning of training, but it's absolutely time to ask for a little more of the wild man.

  4. @ BuilderMama - Yes, Rip was VERY happy to be the bed. He wasn't a great bed-mate, though as he shifted around and climbed over me a lot. I think he'll get to remain a crate-sleeper for the time being!

  5. Kady warned Rip about those Newfies!

    We are working on the behavior . . . I think that she could use a good seminar or two herself (not to mention me).


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