Corgi Rehab Update

Summary- good news!

Since Monday afternoon Lance has been on the strictest of crate rest. Either in a crate, in my arms being carried to his next location, or on a 3 foot leash radius outside for a 60 second bathroom break.  Pretty much zero walking allowed.  One day of carrying him from the house to car to work to car to the club to car to home plus potty breaks just about killed me.  24lbs is apparently very very heavy. So on day two I gave him a throne on wheels.

Lance wasn't too happy with his throne but he's a good dog so he listened and didn't jump off during travel time.
No real improvement in his ability to walk, as judged by potty breaks, was seen Tuesday or Wednesday.  I wasn't really worried by this as it had only been a few days, but since I really need my nice normal dog back I wanted to make sure that the rest route vs surgery was the best choice for his recovery.  I absolutely don't want to do 6 weeks of crate rest to be followed by needing surgery after all and then doing many more weeks of crate rest and rehab work.

So I decided on Wednesday night to consult with a neurologist and get an MRI so we could see exactly where his injury was and how bad it looks.  Lance had several xrays taken on Monday but it's difficult to diagnose spinal injuries from just an xray.  On Thursday we were able to be squeezed in for a visit at the specialist.  Lance was a total ham.  He LOVES vet offices as people always have cookies and squee over the fact that he's not a sausage on stumps.  Lance even tried to pretend there was nothing wrong with him as he walked for the vet and looked lovingly into her eyes, pleading for food!  Of course his back legs did give out a few times and turning was the hardest, but Lance was looking much, much improved over just the day before.  Almost so much improved that I'm pretty sure he made me look like an idiot for requesting the consult and MRI.  Thanks buddy.

The vet was impressed that I was actually doing full crate rest, vs what is apparently most dog owner's interpretation of crate rest.  We did not do an MRI due to his improvement!  And then my wallet thanked her profusely!  Basically she thought that the odds of Lance improving to normal pet life in 6wks was high and roughly the same odds as doing the surgery.  As long as he continues to slowly improve we can start doing 5 minute walks twice a day in about two more weeks and build from there.  It still remains to be seen if he will be able to go back fully to dog sports so we just wait and see.  The AKC wouldn't give us back our money for the National Obedience Championships since we were 4 days past the 1st round closing date.  So if there is a gigantic miracle maybe we will be there after all.

In the meantime I have been stuffing lots and lots of kongs with his meals and am ordering lots and lots of bones.  I am guessing that Lance will no longer be 24lbs when the rest is over!


Super Sad Corgi

Sad corgi.

Lance has IVDD, a slipped disc.  No idea how it happened.  On Sunday we enjoyed a gorgeous walk at the park, came home and he got to bark at the Toller running after a ball, and then we trained with dinner.  He even has teh cutest new trick of learning how to skip!

And then on Monday morning Lance was practically lame.  Very wobbly in the back end and can barely walk.  Back arched in pain.  Went to the vet and was diagnosed with IVDD and due to the fact that he still has some function in his back end we were recommended very strict crate rest for at least 6 weeks.  If he starts to lose any function of his rear legs then we rush to surgery immediately.

Sorry Lance.  He is now to be carefully carried anytime he is out of his crate.  Anyone who owns a corgi knows how awkward that is!

No National Obedience Championships for us.


Heat Wave and Fetch Rules Pt2

The weather gave us a slight break from winter this past weekend as it heated up to 37F!  Heat wave!

We went to explore a park new to us on Sunday and were thrilled to find it mostly deserted and
nice walking paths through the woods.  Tried to get a group shot and laughed as Zumi looked at the other two dogs in their stay and decided to join them.  For a little while at least.

We also played some more fetch this weekend in the yard.  Vito is coming along very nicely with his rules of not going after the toy I throw for Zumi!  Zumi herself still doesn't have any rules about not going after Vito's and it will likely be awhile before I add that in.  Mainly she likes to chase after the group with a toy of her own in her mouth.  It was interesting to see that even between Saturday and Sunday there was a big increase in how much interest she had in what Lance and Vito were doing vs playing mostly on the sidelines.

Trying to steal Vito's if she can grab quick enough.

 Good sit Vito!

What I found most fascinating was watching Zumi and Vito interact after I say all done.  At that point Vito is fairly good about not pestering me to throw the toy, although he does check in frequently to see if that's still the case.  Usually Vito likes to sit down with the toy and chew on it, or if we go on a walk through the fields Vito carries it with him just in case I change my mind and decide to throw it again.  Like most puppies, Zumi found it a perfect opportunity to try and steal Vito's toy and they ended up playing tug.

Knowing Vito he would much rather just have the toy than play so tugging was more of a result of not wanting to drop the toy.  But I also know that if Vito really doesn't want to play than he will in no uncertain terms let the other dog know.  I took video of their interaction, watch and tell me what you think!

- To me, the first 10 seconds are fairly relaxed tugging.  (Vito is the one talking)
- Then Zumi's racing around with her prize is a thousand times more relaxed than previous weeks.  She looks likes to me like she is trying to tease the other dogs versus taking her prize and trying to go off to guard it.  It also helps that Vito isn't obsessively following the toy as he finds the 2nd one.
- Vito is pretty relaxed with his toy at 1:10 and a bit annoyed.
- Zumi manages to grab it at 1:20 and they start tugging again.  Vito still talks, like always.  Zumi starts much more thrashing and growling than she did earlier and it seems to escalate.
- At 2:05 Corgi barks and interrupts them a bit and Vito looks at me for possible reassurance.
- Over by 2:30 when I yell at the corgi and Zumi lets go to look at me
- But then Zumi sweeps into grab it as Vito comes to see if I'll throw it.

So?  At no point was I concerned for either of their safety as I know Vito well and haven't seen any signs for real concern in Zumi.  Doggy behavior just fascinates me!


Training with Multiple Dogs

One of the most common messages I get from people who watch my puppy training videos are on how I can train one dog with the others just milling about.  Since most people in the dog world have multiple dogs, figuring out how to handle training time is a necessity.  Below I listed 3 different ways to handle the issue.

1.  Management.  Basically having this skill isn't important to you so you don't waste your time training it!  Generally the dogs not being trained are in crates, but placing them behind baby gates or behind closed doors will also do the trick.

Using management alongside training can also be a stepping stone if you need to work on your dog not barking while you're working another dog.  If your dog is below threshold enough to still eat, a manners minder/treat n train can be your best friend to be able to randomly reward quietness while at a distance.  But good luck with that!  I'm thankful to not ever had a dog who needed more than just a gradual introduction with distance/visual access/intensity of activity before they quit barking.

2.  Pedestal training.  A nice compromise solution can be to train the non-working dogs to go to a specific location and remain there until called off.  The spot can be an open crate, a mat, or some type of pedestal the dog jumps on.  Typically an object with some height is the easiest as it prevents the dog from being able to creep forward without you noticing and is harder for the dog to "forget" what he was supposed to be doing.

In order to start this training the dog should already have a good start on impulse control exercises: an automatic (uncued) leave it, and a solid stay with distractions.  In other words, before adding in a second dog you will want to work up to being able to send your dog to their place from a distance, be able to move around the room freely, and be able to drop food to the ground.  Remember to do this training without needing to make eye contact with your dog for them to stay there.  I also don't recommend using a verbal stay cue if you care about criteria on a stay.  Either one word like go mat or hop up should imply a relaxed wait, or use a different word that gives your dog permission to move around a bit as long as they aren't leaving their spot.

A second person to reward the other dog can be helpful, but don't rely on them too much.  You don't want it to turn into a 2 dog training session, one person per dog.  If the waiting dog is just staring at your helper than you might be practicing a skill other than the one you wanted to.  Generally I find that if a second person is really needed than that dog's prerequisites just aren't strong enough in the first place and management should be used until further along.  The dog needing eye contact to maintain it's pedestal with distractions is often the missing piece, or the dog is just too much over threshold and needs a more gradual introduction.

I personally only use pedestal training in the summer when I train outside and ask my dogs to remain on the porch when it's not their turn.  It isn't necessary for my crew, but for some reason I thought it would be good practice for them to do so!  It did come in handy this summer when I hosted a few agility lessons at my house and had multiple dog/handler teams milling around and the inability to put Vito in the house due to his separation anxiety.

This picture must have been during those short few days I was down to 2 dogs as I only see 2 dinner bowls!  Vito can move anywhere on the porch and it looks like he decided to relax until I was done with the Corgi.

3. Just don't interfere.  This rule is what I use the majority of the time with my dogs.  Mainly because I'm lazy and it's so easy for me in the long run!  I have the added benefit of having 2 dogs who are already very experienced with this rule so that with each new dog coming to visit they can learn from the elders.  I do believe that dogs learn routines and manners from the other dogs, good or bad.  This training goes the smoothest with dogs who already have a history of working with you, have a good automatic leave it, and a good stay.  That being said, I have successfully done this with many puppies.

I always start by abandoning any real training of my other dogs and focus solely on the new dog.  New dog gets trained first and I save a small handful of it to use for when I'm working the other dogs.  After the new dog eats I call dog #2 over to me and start very basic training.  I don't ask for anything difficult or too arousing as my focus is really going to be on the new dog.  But for the most part I try to completely avoid interacting with the new dog.  I don't make much eye contact and I don't really give any verbal commands to them.  I will body block, often quite a bit.  And out of the corner of my eye I look for calm behaviors to reward.  I try and keep my reward rate as low as I'm able to make it without getting the new dog too frantic.  If the waiting dog does the behavior I'm asking the working dog to do I might laugh but it's rare that I reward it.  Pretty soon they figure out it's not worth the effort.

My goal over the next training sessions is to get rid of the rewards completely for the non-working dog.  I don't want them continuously offering different relaxed behaviors in order to get a treat themselves.  With my own dogs there are personality differences on how they choose to wait.  The Corgi usually is the farthest away but he watches intently the entire time.  He can't wait until I am done training all the dogs so that he can run over and search for any abandoned crumbs on the floor.  The Toller alternates between sometimes almost sleeping to other times being a foot away and staring.  If a kibble falls to the floor Vito knows he can't get it, but he will stare intently at it until it is either removed by me or the working dog, or I take pity on him and allow him to eat it.  Zumi is still in the process of learning this household rule.  She has progressed to eating last (elders first!) and knows to politely wait her turn to train.  But she is still working on being patient if I'm using props in my training as it's fun to try and shove the other dog out of the way!  Zumi is also still learning that dropped food isn't hers and I will give some verbal reminders to her if I see her moving towards one.

Here's Lance being trained with 3 dogs waiting patiently.  Gracie chose to place herself on the cot while Vito and Fiona are not in stays but choosing to watch.


Zumi 14wks

The Duck turned 14wks today and is up to 16lbs.  This last week was a big one in her development.

First, Zumi found her voice.  A little bit of barking at noises at home and at people approaching at work.  A mix of anxiety and excitement as Zumi still gung out about greeting any person she can actually see.  Likely in a small fear period right now so my job is just to get her through it without pressing any issues.

In training time Zumi is really starting to think.  Lots more offering behaviors that don't involve the use of a prop.  As such she's making a bit more progress with our frog legs trick and I've started shaping backing up in a down.  A little sad as down-back was Pyra's favorite behavior of all time and one she just started doing on her own at 10wks.

But other back up tricks are going well now too.  Reversing towards my legs is up to 1.5ft after maybe 3 lessons.  And Zumi's kinda getting taking a step back to her 2o2o position on a box, although there is still lots of turning around to get on it with front feet first.

More snow!

Love this photo of her and Lance.  Zumi's expression pretty much sums up Zumi.

Duck and Kitty still play lots.  Hard to say who wins more.  She goes for his tail and ears, he goes for her neck.

While she's not a super cuddler like Pyra was, Zumi still does a pretty good job of it.  Likes to be about halfway in my lap and doesn't care who she has to climb over to get where she wants to be.  Vito still doesn't acknowledge her presence much.  She's barely worth a grumble apparently.


Fetch With Rules- Resource Guarding

So glad that I started to lay some ground rules with Vito's fetching when Gracie was here.  At that time the rule that each dog must only go after their own separate balls was put in place to prevent Gracie from slamming Vito.  The Labrador loved plowing her body into him and found that way more fun than trying to get the ball itself.  Gracie was sad about the new rule, but she learned it quickly.  Vito was much, much harder as he only cares about BALL and now I had two.  But he was starting to get the concept and was progressing so that I didn't have to hold his collar if I wanted to throw Gracie's ball first.

Now Zumi is showing that implementing rules while playing with the other dogs might be necessary.  Zumi has shown some mild resource guarding issues since she's gotten here.  It's always hard to tell with dogs how much is too much and what's appropriate.  For the most part I let my dogs growl and lift their lip at the others if they're chewing on a bone or toy, and of course they tell off another if they're being rude in general with their personal space, even if they don't have an item to guard.
The dogs' rule has always been:
Talk all you want, but you better not escalate. Basically if push comes to shove there better not be anything more than a small scratch on the nose at most.

It's rare I have to step in with Lance, Vito, and the puppies I've raised to tell them that guarding/growling was inappropriate.  Vito gets the most lectures with the new puppies as while most of his angry faces are fine, sometimes he gets a little too grumpy with a puppy who's not even looking at him!  I'm lucky that my dogs are fairly easy going and responsive.

So Zumi has taken me a bit by surprise in how assertive she is starting by 8wks of age.  Nothing I'm worried about yet, but I'm certainly keeping a close eye on her and have worked with her a bit on it.  Being a good boy, Vito will back down from her if she tries to claim a toy we're playing with!

Outside fetch play isn't high enough value yet for Zumi to really attempt any guarding.  If I throw a ball for Vito she prefers to keep her own ball in her mouth and do her own thing.  In the beginning she will run after the other 2 dogs in excitement, but doesn't let go of her ball.  And since Vito only really cares about a ball that's moving he doesn't bother her at all as long as he can bring me one to throw.

Sometimes she forgets her ball, but just naughty playfulness in trying to grab the ball from Vito as he returns.

When Vito's a bit more tired I try and work on his fetch rules so that it is more in place for when Zumi needs it.  Trying to get Zumi to drop the ball outside is a bit difficult, but then I do a tiny toss for her while saying her name and reminding Vito not to get it.  Sometimes Vito needs an extra verbal reminder if he starts off after it.  And then Vito gets his own ball thrown in the other direction on his name cue.

Naughty Vito only somewhat listened for this throw of Zumi's.

We will see how the next several weeks develop as Zumi starts to place higher value on fetching!

Note: None of my dogs have shown actual aggression issues.  If your dog is resource guarding, please don't punish the growl and seek professional help.  There is also a lovely blog series on resource guarding between dogs here.


Zumi 13wks

Miss Zumi is one fun little puppy.  Lives up to her name well!  Just turned 13wks old and weighs almost 15lbs.

Toy play with rules is coming along nicely this past week.  We have a drop it.  And she's at least getting the idea of retrieving toys all the way to me.  A little victory lap still wants to be done if I throw the toy away from the toy pile on the floor, but she actually does a fantastic job if I sit away from her other toys and throw a toy INTO the pile!  Zumi looks for the one I threw and then runs back to me nicely!  Still needs work on bringing a toy back to my hand vs just standing with it near me.  Mostly we still play tug way more than fetch to work on that.

Her nickname of Face Hugger continues to hold true.  Great progress in not being a face biter, but Zumi still loves climbing up high and being spastic.  Kinda like this.

In the morning she tries really hard to jump into bed after eating breakfast and hug Daddy's face as he's sleeping.
After a face hug

Food drive is growing lots this last week.  Eats all her meals eagerly and actually switching between food and toys is much harder.  A skill that needs to be re-taught now that she cares for food.
In training I've gone back to some mat training to introduce the concept of a stay.  I figure it's about time she starts one.  Also have done a few lessons on nose targeting a dumbbell but we don't have any teeth on it yet.  And backing up to a 2o2o position and in between my legs was started this week as well.


New Years USDAA Trial

USDAA season is back for our area!  Vito and I played on Friday and Sunday.  Saturday was supposed to be a day of obedience at the big Land O Lakes trial, but I decided against paying the higher fees for that trial and so took a day off.

Vito had 4 runs on Friday.  Magical Chuck It Launcher seemed to work nicely.
Jumpers was one of his fastest jumpers run.  Just 1 knocked bar.

Standard he crashed through the first 2 bars, but then did a nice job.  For the first time ever in a trial I even did a front cross at the end of the dogwalk!  And then got too excited as I almost forgot I had to do a front followed by a rear to keep him off the jump ahead.  It worked, jsut a bit wide :)

Pairs we got our 5th leg for our masters title.  And the naughty toller was so excited by the wait and baton handoff that he broke his startline!  Vito hasn't done that in awhile, but he's always allowed to in a trial :)  Gamblers I realized as I was explaining the rules to my mother that I walked it wrong!  No back to back contacts, so I had to have a new plan.  New plan worked well until I completely forgot what side I wanted him on when the whistle blew and I did a bonus front cross, followed by a quick un-do of the cross.  The actual gamble went pretty well!  It was 2 simple sends, but the distance was pretty big for Vito and the 2nd send was from a complete stand still.  Sadly, Vito was over time by .17 seconds.  

Saturday we went for a nice walk at a park.

Sunday only 3 runs and we even got to sleep in!  
Snooker was first for one of his fastest and happiest snooker runs ever.  Our 7-6-5 plan earned us a 4th place but just too slow for a super Q.

Standard didn't have quite the speed, but was still a nice run.  I tried to send Vito out to a jump while I sprinted to beat him to the end of a dogwalk for a push out, but Vito saw me running and just came with.  Unfortunately video shows I didn't do much of a send for my defense.  

Pairs was back to complete trial speed.  But happy and clean for a Q.  

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