Retrieval Work

Today I took Vito to a school yard for the first time to work on some retrieving stuff. I'm still toying with the idea of getting his JH eventually so figured I better start training something.

I first got him used to the place by walking him around on a loose leash, treating him for staying near me and ignoring everything on the ground. I really have no clue what I'm doing in terms of retrieving work, but thought I would start with a few "happy bumpers." Then I worked on Vito getting used to a thrower, his Daddy, but still bringing the bumpers into me. We haven't done a ton of work with that yet, but Vito seemed to be doing just fine with quite a lot of encouragement from me. I threw only 3 doubles, which Vito kind've screwed up on the last two. I held his harness to make sure he wouldn't go after the first mark, and released him as soon as I was throwing the second. But apparently Vito didn't even see my hand with the 2nd bumper as he rocketed straight towards the first bumper. So this was my fault as I should have made sure he was paying attention to the second bumper before throwing it. (Properly done, Vito should have retrieved the 2nd bumper first, and then gone out to bring me the first one).

I switched to using a tennis ball after a couple throws since Vito seemed to be getting a little bored with the bumpers and I want to quit on a good note with them. With the tennis ball Vito goes insane, so I made sure to lightly grab his harness and not release him to "get it" until he was in a sit without any pulling forward. I definitely heard some toller screams!
Oh, Lance is feeling better today. Waking up this morning he seemed to have no hint of pain when being touched or even picked up. So who knows!

And apparently corgis CAN fly! (I just wished I was zoomed in closer, this is already cropped!)
I know Lance probably shouldn't have been cleared for take off since he was in some pain yesterday, but he really wanted to come and I just couldn't resist that face :)


Learning some new tricks!

Today I started a new trick with Vito. I wanted to work on the R legs up trick, where the dog lifts and holds both his front and hind right leg in the air at the same time. I've never taught this before, so I had no clue where to start. Originally I had Vito targeting his front paw to my knee and then trying to reach to cue him to lift his back leg. But this just resulted in a lot of whacking my body everywhere and no back leg lift. Perhaps this would have worked if I had re brought out another target for his back leg, but I didn't think of it at the time. Instead, I grabbed the nearest long object, which happened to be a ferret climbing post, and taught Vito to put his right legs on it within 2 clicks. Within another 2 clicks he was keeping is front paw on the post and his back leg high in the air! He is creepy smart.

So we still can't really sit and hold a dumbbell for more than half a second without levitating off the ground, but we have the start of R legs up!

I was going to start this with Lance, but for some odd reason Lance is wincing whenever we pick him up. Of course it's the weekend and the vets are closed, but I think it's his rib. I'm not really good at watching dogs gait but he seems to be walking just fine, possibly a little stiff. However, Lance shrieks when I pick him up. Now I know Lance really isn't a fan of being held, but this is just a little too dramatic!

So instead of teaching this trick which might hurt his rib, I decided that Lance should start learning "are you sad?" (rest head on the ground) which Vito is already a master at. Lance was definitely more irritated than sad as he grumbled a lot. He is so cute when frustrated!


We've been tagged!

I have been tagged by Winnie the Corgi to share how my pups came to live with me.

Lance is the first dog of my adult life. It was hard spending 4 years of college away from all of my childhood pets so I knew that I would be getting a dog as soon as I possibly could. I love big breeds like Newfies, Berners, and mastifs, but I also love dogs with high drive. Unfortunately Newfies aren't exactly known for being high energy dogs, so I knew I would have to look smaller. At the time, my fiance wanted a dog who would cuddle with him and sit on his lap. At the daycare I had worked at I had completely fallen in love with "Little Dog" a pembroke who was extremely cute and very naughty so I thought a corgi would fit us perfectly. Corgis may be small, but they have definetly have drive.

So I started looking at breeders and rescues and went to a couple dog shows to talk to corgi owners. I thought I had found a great breeder who cared about her dogs, and of course did health testing, but in hindsight I shouldn't have been so eager and did a little more research. Apparently she doesn't really care what happens to them afterwards as she never responded to one of my email updates.

Anyway, after our "honeymoon" to Lutsen, my new husband and I picked up baby Lance on the way home. Lance was the perfect puppy, he was basically a mature adult even at 11wks.

And he never grew into those ears!
With my 2nd puppy I debated a long time (ever since we got Lance!) on what breed to get. I decided that I wanted a little bit bigger dog who was even higher in energy. I know that Lance is much more laid back than most corgis, and wanted a dog that would have loads of drive! But border collies still scare me with how much energy they have :) so I started looking at tollers. I did tons of research and everything I read made me more intrigued with their drive, intelligence, and stubbornness! The description of "a border collie with an off switch" also made me excited :P Since tollers are a much less common breed there aren't a ton of crappy breeders out there, so this made it much easier to find several I KNEW that I would be very happy with. The decision was sealed as I was invited to visit and even spent the night at one breeders house.

When the litter was seven weeks I again drove down for temperament testing and was given the pick of 2 puppies who fit my criteria for a performance dog and was pet quality. "Lime" was a great dog who was passed everything on the test with flying colors, especially the retrieving, and was extremely attentive when I did one on one training. I knew he would be the perfect family dog and would excel at obedience. "Red" was a little devil, he didn't bring the toy back, just wanted to "kill it," and was very jumpy and bitey in individual training. He seemed to have a ton of energy and was definitely a spitfire. I of course chose "Red" as my new puppy.
2nd on the leftVito settled in nicely, although he still isn't sure what to think of the ferrets
Our next dog won't come until Vito is at least 1.5yrs and we have a house. The breed is still up in the air. Right now the contenders, in no particular order, are a cardigan corgi, pembroke corgi, toller, border collie, austrailian shepherd, bernese mountain dog, or a random mix!


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk3

Again is another log of Vito SA treatment. We are now in week 3! I try to do a mini summary below each day for those who don't want to read procedure.

Day 15:
I worked for 25min with a bully stick and rawhide chip. A "N" after time means Vito didn't eat the bone but continued to lay down on the dog bed. Started out with bullystick for 20sec, 10-N, 10, 15-N, 5. I exchanged bully stick for a rawhide chip and did 15sec, 30, 45, 20, 60, offered him the bully again 30-N, 15-N. Chip again for 90sec, pigs ear for 40sec where Vito took a water break. Chip again for 130sec, 30, 180sec. On this last 3min trial the video shows Vito eat the chip for 1min, and then go the door where he stared at and occasionally went to look out over the baby gate. He remained quiet, and didn't pant, but still stood by the door until I came back. I did a 30sec-N, and 10-N before taking a little break. I let him out to see if he had to pee, he did not, and then did a 10sec, 20-N trial with the bully stick he chose.

Overall I'm ok with this session. He still didn't continously chew a bone, but did fine until the end. On the 3min trial I'm worried that he did stand by the door after only 1 minute of chewing, but at least he remained relatively calm.

Day 15, session 2: Worked for only 14min with a new basted beef bone and bully stick. We did 30sec, 20, 60, 2x10, 120, and 40sec all with the beef bone. I then offered him a choice and he chose a bully stick where we did 20sec-N, 20sec (yes!), 75 (where he took a break to get water, and then resumed eating). I then gave him back the beef bone and did 180sec, 40.

Amazing session!!!! Not only was I able to do a 1min trial on the 3rd departure, but I also got up to 3 min again rather quickly too without a hitch. I am extremely happy that the one time he stopped chewing his bone, he got up to drink water and then immediately went back to chew on his bone without even looking at the door. I think I might stick to sessions under 20min, especially if I am able to quickly get back up to longer departures with less babysteps.

Day 16: Worked for 17min with the basted beef bone and the bully stick used yesterday. We did 20 sec, 45, 30, 90, 10, 180 with the bully stick. Then given the choice bx the 2 we did 30sec, 90, 20, with the beef bone. Another choice and back to the bully stick for 30sec. Chose the beef stick and we did 210sec & 15.

Another amazing session! We did a 3.5min trial today with no problem and Vito happily chewed on whatever he "chose." I forgot to videotape, but as far as I know he didn't get up from the dog bed once. I feel extremely happy right now :)

Day 16, session 2: I tried to do a 2nd session today. It was just over an hour and a half after the last one, but since I knew I wouldn't have time later I thought I would try one anyway. My goal was to originally only do trials less then one minute but as you can see we had some problems.
I started with a bully stick at 10-N, 20-N, 10-N, switched to a rawhide chip and did 30, 30-N (at door). Switched to a beef bone and did 20, 60-N (door), 10. Back to a chip for 20-N. Added PB to a pigs ear and did 10, 30, 10, 40-N (door), 5-N, 10-N.

So this session sucked but it was somewhat to be expected.

Day 17: Worked for 20min with a bully stick and rawhide chip. Started with a rawhide chip for 30sec-N (went to the door at 5sec, I decided to wait a bit to see what he would do. When I came back in he wasn't at the door, but was standing looking at the bed). Then did 5sec, 15, 5, 30, 20. He chose the bully stick and did 30, 60, 45. He chose the chip and did 40, 120, 10. Chose the bully stick and did 45, 180. He decided to stick with the bully and did 30, 210.

Also good session, got up to 3.5min. Started out slow, but got back into it fairly quickly.

Day 18: Worked for about 20min with a bully stick and rawhide stick. Started with the rawhide stick for 15sec, 30, 15, 90. Vito then chose the bully stick and did 40sec, 195, 10, 30, 240 (on the 240 Vito had just finished the bully and was going to drink water when I came in. Immediately after drinking he went back to his bed and started chewing the rawhide stick I had put there before the trial). Using the stick we did 30sec, 240sec-N (on the 240 Vito was by the door. I have no clue how long he had been there). Then used beef bone for 15sec.

I think this went well. I did two 4min trials today, although the 2nd one Vito was by the door.

Day 19, Session1: Worked for 18min with mainly a rawhide chip. Started with a rawhide stick for 15-N, 30-N (and at the door), 10-N. Switched to pigs ear for 30-N, 15. Switched to a rawhide chip for the rest and did 60, 15, 180 (got up, but went back to bed and resumed eating), 60, 4.5min (got up, but went back and resumed chewing), 10, 30, 120.

I thought this went ok. It did take awhile for Vito to want to eat anything, but we also did a 4.5min trial!

Day 19, Session2: Worked for 20min with mainly a rawhide chip. Started with a bully stick for 30sec, 60sec-?. I realized I forgot to put the baby gate up since when I came back on the 60sec trial Vito was in the bedroom lying on my bed. He wasn't panting or looking anxious, it just looked like he was sulking. I ignored him and did 15, 40, 90 and Vito wasn't moving from the bed. I went in to see him and Vito didn't move until I touched him, whereapon he did his nervous but excited dance. It's hard to describe, but I think Vito was doing is whole hiding/sulking thing he does when I get frustrated with him. So while I was excited that he wasn't in any anxious panic, it wasn't a comfortable lying down on my bed. After I "made up" with Vito (just a few pats, I didn't make a big deal out of it) he followed me into the kitchen and went straight for the bully stick there. I did 20sec-N (door), 10-N, 60-N. Switched to a rawhide chip and did 30, 120, 20, 40, 240 (video shows 1min of chewing, h2o break, door for 1mn, back to bed for 30sec, door for the rest of the time). Did 5sec, 20-N, 2x10, 30-N (door at 20sec), 10, 5.

I have no idea what to think of this session. Vito really wasn't into it and I don't know what to make of the whole bedroom thing. I didn't put the babygate up even when he came back to the kitchen, but he didn't go back to the bedroom at all. So not great, but maybe not horrible?

Day 20: Worked for a total of 30min. Started with a bully stick for 10sec-N, 10-N. Switched to a rawhide chip for 20-N, 10, 5, 40, 15, 90-N (door), 20, 60-N (door), 10, 20, 10-N, 50-N (at door at 20sec, I waited to see what he would do, he whined at 40sec, I waited 10more before coming in). Then I unfortunately come in upset, don't say anything, but Vito senses it and runs to his dog bed in his cowering mode. This in turn makes me more frustrated and I realize I need to leave the area before making things worse. So I am gone for 2 min in the living room, he's still babygated in the kitchen and is laying down on the dog bed in sulking mode. I then come back in a better mood, sit on the kitchen floor, he won't approach, so I wait and then gently encourage him. Vito sits on my lap and I stroke him for another 2 min. I then decide to try to resume, so I put a beef bone down, and do 6xO/I-N, 6xO/I, 3x5ec, 2xO/I, 10, O/I, 5, 15, 2x5, 20, 10, 40, 5, 15, 10, 60-N, 3xO/I-N, 5-N, 6xO/I-N. During this entire string I didn't pick up the bone at all when I came back. Since he hadn't been chewing on it again for awhile I pick up the beef bone and then put it back down again. This gets him started chewing again so I do 3xO/I, 5, 2xO/I, 2x5, O/I, 5, 10.

So this session sucked. He wasn't into it at all and then once he stopped chewing he wouldn't resume. I made things worse by showing my frustration and Vito shut down completely. He is a very sensitive dog and unfortunately it can become a viscious cycle with Vito not really into something, I get frustrated, Vito shuts down, this makes me more frustrated, etc. Right now I feel like we've made zero progress. This is almost the end of week 3 and I still can't consistently leave for even 10sec.

Day 21: Worked for 22min with a gigantic bully stick :) Started with 10sec, 5, 40. But then the caretaker was mowing the yard. Vito has never heard our lawn being mowed before (yeah I know that it's almost June, our caretaker sucks) and I was unsure of how he would do. I sat with him for a little bit, but he kept eying the gigantic bully stick so I decided to keep going, just slow. So I did 10, 5, 40, 5, 15, 10, 60, 2x10, 60, 20, 90, 5, 30, 60, 135, 2x10, 180.

I think that this would have been a great session if I hadn't been worried about the mower. Even still, I did a 3 min trial with no problem. Vito really liked the bone and didn't focus on anything else.

Week 3 Summary: Well this week started out great, but ended somewhat iffy. Longest trial was a 4.5min and consistently did 3 min trials most days. I still feel though that I'm not making that fast of progress. I think a lot of it is due to only being able to fit one session in most days so he's not getting that much practice. Another big issue is finding a bone that Vito really wants. It seems like his tastes keep changing and he gets bored quickly. So far his favorite bones are bully sticks, but he won't even touch a pigs ear at all anymore. This was just a frustrating week, mainly clouded by yesterday, day 20.

Any tips are greatly appreciated!


Letting loose

After the trial I took the dogs to visit their great grandparents. There's a large empty lot right next to the house so I gave the dogs a fun break and threw the ball. I found out that Lance can out sprint Vito, although it's pretty close.
But even if Lance beats him to it, Vito always gets it
Lance still tries to beat him back though!
But then Lance starts getting lazy
and it's all to easy to beat Vito back.
Then Lance got really lazy. That's cheating!


St. Peter's Trial

Day 1:
This weekend I took Lance down for an obedience trial in St. Peters. Day 1 was Rally-O and Lance's first attempt at the Advanced class. Since it was all going to be off leash I was more than a little worried how Lance would do. He has quite a history of taking off, smiling at the crowd, and leaving me to heel by myself when no treats are involved. Unfortunately, I entered Lance in the 12" jump height to play in safe not really knowing what height he should be at and hearing that most corgis jump 10 or 12 in obedience. But apparently in Rally, Lance should be at 8in and the judge wouldn't let me switch down.

Lance did amazing!!! He started out a little wobbly and I was grateful there was a 270 degree left turn right at the start where I practically herded Lance around and into heel :) However, the high jump was next and Lance had no clue what I wanted him to do. First he looked at the jump and continued heeling with me. When looking back at the footage, I can see that I cued him way too close to the jump, giving him almost no time to process the cue. I did a redo and this time Lance read my hand motion but went on the opposite side of the jump and came back to me instead of going over. I blame the jump height, we haven't even done 12" in practice and the simple fact that I have never practiced this exercise with him. I assumed that from doing agility Lance knew how to go over jumps and read my body language, but I have never done it in the context of a heeling pattern with him. For the rest of the course though Lance did really well. His eyes were pretty much glue to me and he had no problem with any of the exercises. Shortly after the jump he was a little distracted and far away on his "sit" for the halt-stay-one step to the right-call dog to heel exercise but he was looking at me after he sat and since I had already NQed on the jump I decided to just keep going since he was starting to pay attention. Really, Lance was amazing. He hasn't been this attentive in an actual trial in a long time.

I'm a little sad we didn't get a Q today, but I really only have myself to blame. I am just so excited that he was actually paying attention. When Lance is on he really shines.

Day 2:
Day 2 Lance was entered in Graduate Novice. In this "fake" class, the dogs do a heel on leash, figure 8 off leash, drop on recall, recall with a dumbbell (give dog dumbbell, tell dog to stay, walk away, turn and call), recall over high jump, recall over broad jump, and 3min down stay out of sight.

I was very pleased on how Lance did today. His heel work was very attentive, and while he wasn't in perfect position he sat everytime on the halt and kept his eyes on me most of the time. Lance's off leash figure 8 was the best figure 8 he has ever done in a trial. Usually Lance tends to wander on the outside turn as he observes everything around him, but today Lance only lagged a little bit and then rejoined me! His drop on recall was great, although I was nervous and told him to "down" in a harsher voice than I wanted to. On the dumbbell recall Lance failed. He took it and I walked away, but shortly after he spit it out of his mouth. Apparently he didn't want my gift to him. His recall was nice though :) We also had no problem on the recall over the high jump and he didn't step on even one platform on the broad jump recall.

So we NQed on the dumbbell, but I calculated a score of 193 if he would have done the dumbbell with one point off for the crooked sit and finish.

Overall I am so happy on how Lance did this weekend. There were definently things that her could have improved on but really my only goal for this weekend was Lance being attentive in the ring and we met it! He didn't leave me to heel by myself :) Since I was the very last dog to go on Sunday I was also fortunate enough to be allowed to go back in the ring and work with him. I just did a couple of short heeling patterns with Lance and ran out of the ring each time with him to get his canned kitty food. I want to teach Lance that even though I can't treat him in the ring, he can get the most amazing food ever as we come out if he is attentive for me.


Lance Fun Match

There was a fun match held tonight and I decided to enter Lance in Open and Rally. He went first in Rally-O and did amazing! He was extremely attentive and I only used about 3 treats during the course. We had to "redos", the first was on a halt-pivot right-halt where Lance decided to find "front" instead of heel when I pivoted. The 2nd redo was on walking backwards in heel which I really don't blame him for since he sucks at it anyway. After doing the course I ran with him to reward him with some canned dog food. Lance was very excited :) I was going to do it off leash, but forgot I had it in my hand still at the start. Oh well! At least he practiced being "good" and wasn't able to self-reinforce.

While warming up for Open Lance was more distracted. He saw me put the canned food down and just wanted to go over and sniff it. I was able to regain him before we actually had to go. Lance did "ok" on the off-leash heel. He definitely needed some extra cues to regain attention, but at least there were a few good stretches. And while the figure 8 wasn't good, it was probably the best figure 8 he has done in a ring in awhile. Besides the heeling everything else went wonderful. It was a little hard to gain his attention on the transitions so I tried doing some trickwork. But there were zero errors in the drop on recall, retrieve on the flat, and retrieve over the high jump. The broad jump also went really well considering that he really isn't ready for that exercise yet. I just gave him an extra cue to "front" after he sailed over it and Lance listened nicely. This was also the first time that Lance has done the long sit and down stays out of sight the entire time with zero rewards!

So wish us luck this weekend as we head down to a big show. It will be the biggest Lance has ever been to since there is also conformation being held. On Saturday we're entered in Advanced Rally-O and Sunday in Graduate Novice. My thoughts were that he would do better the first day and since his Rally class will actually count for Q's I decided to do it first. Since Graduate Novice isn't entirely a real class I hopefully won't be as stressed. And since it involves 3 jumps I'm hoping that if Lance can make it through the off leash heeling he will be fine!


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk2

This is my report of Week 2 in my SA treatment with Vito. Again, I reccomend that you don't read the log below unless you are really interested in a bunch of times, or at least skip to the summary at the end.

Day 8:
Worked for 25mn with a bully stick. 5sec, 2x10, 20, 30, 10, 20, 60, 20, 60, 10, 75, 2x30, 10, 90, 20, 30, 90, 30, 10, 120, 30, 60.

No problems. If anything he really didn't want to give up the bullystick to me at the end. I'm wondering if I should be rewarding the drop it now. Longest time was 2min.

Day 9: This was a weird session. I originally put down a new pigs ear, but Vito didn't seem to want it at all. He had a tiny bit left of an old pigs ear so I put that down and Vito started chewing on that right away. I did 5x5, 10, 5, 10, 20, 25, 5, 45, 35 60, 75, 2x30 with no problem, but after that last one I picked up the 2 pigs ears and Vito walked out onto the porch looking out. I didn't say anything, and after 5sec he came back in and layed down on the doggy bed. This was about 12min into the session. I then resumed and did 15, 90, 30, 120 but on the 120sec Vito was standing when I walked in. He was still on the dog bed, just standing there; this was about 20min into the session. I did 2x15sec, 45sec but again he was standing on the 45sec. So I did 3x0/I, 10, 20, and Vito was standing on the 20sec. I did 2xO/I, 5, 10, and Vito wasn't eating his bone, but lying down still on the last one. So I did 4xO/I, 2x5 and Vito was again lying down but not eating on the 2nd 5sec trial. I didn't know what to do so I puttered around the kitchen for a couple minutes but Vito still didn't go back to eating his bone, although remained lying down on the dog bed. I opened up the kitchen gate and Vito left to get some water and came back to nibble on the old pigs ear for about a minute. I remained inside the kitchen, but after a short time of chewing Vito stopped again and wouldn't go back to eating. He didn't seem anxious, but had zero interest in chewing a bone.

I'm not sure what this session tells me. It was done 11:00am which is earlier than normal and Vito did seem tired at the beginning. He clearly knew that I was going to do a session after letting him outside since he went straight to the dog bed and waited patiently. But because he wasn't into the new ear at all, I started slow. I guess he was just bored since it was very odd how he went on the porch only 12min in. Maybe he was really wanting the bully stick from last session and was diasapointed that I varied the reward.

I just remembered now that Vito did throw up last night at 3am. I'm assuming it was because of the new meds he is on trying to combat giardhia and maybe he still doesn't feel well.

Day 9, session2: Worked for 25mn with a basted rib bone (Vito's never had that bone before). We did 10sec 5, 15, 30, 15, 45, 20, 60, 30, 90, 2x15, 45, 90, 45, 20, 120, 2x15, 30, 120, 45, 30, 60.

This was a very good session. Vito absolutley loved the rib bone and I was able to do two 2min long departures and four other trials a minute or longer.

Day 9, session3: Worked for 20mn with the basted rib. Originally wanted to use a pigs ear, but he wouldn't touch it when I puttered around the kitchen. So did 2x10sec, 30, 20, 60, 30, 60, 2x15, 120, 20, 45, 15, 120, 30, 20, 60.

Also a good session if you don't count the fact that he didn't want the pigs ear. Again I did two 2min trials.

Day 10: It was a busy day, I didn't have any time for an SA session :(

Day 11: Worked for 30mn with a bully stick. Did 10sec, 30, 20, 60, 10, 30, 90, 45, 20, 120 but was standing on the 120. Did 10, 5, 2x10, 20, 10, 30, 20, and then he kind've stopped eating. Didn't get up, but wasn't too interested for the next trials, just nibbled: 10, 20 30, 5, 10, 5, 2x10, 30, 5, 10, 5, 2x10, 30, 20 and stood up on the 20. 2xO/I, 2x5, 10, O/I, 5, 10, 10 and was up, 2xO/I, 2x5, 10.

This was crappy. He started out so well, but then Vito completely lost interest in the bone. He did have bad diarrhea again afterwards, so who knows.
Afterwards I let the ferrets out and then put Vito back in the kitchen with a pigs ear. He wouldn't touch it. However Vito was quiet for quite a while then got antsy, I took him outside, and resumed and Vito wouldn't go back to it. I tried putting pb on the ear but it only occupied him for another 2min. He did some whining, but overall tried hard to be patient.

Day 12: Worked for 28min with a basted beef bone (the one used previously) and then a bully stick. Started with 7sec and Vito was up by the door, 3x5, 10-wan't eating, 3x5-standing on last one, 2xO/I, 3x5, O/I, 10, 3x5, 10-wasn't eating, 3xO/I- still not eating, 2x5, 10. Vito showed very little interest in the beef bone so far, so I decided to exchange it out for a bully stick.

Did 2x5, 10, 5, 10, 2x5, 2x10, 5, 15, 2x5, 15, 10, 5, 20, added pb, 10, 20, 30, 5, 20, 2x10, 45, 15, 30, 15, 60 2x10, 30, 60.

After I exchanged out the bone Vito started doing great. I took it really slowly to be on the safe side, but I probably would have been able to be longer than 1min if Vito had done great from the start.

Day 13: Worked for 25mn with a bully stick. Did 2x5sec, 10, 5, 10, 20, 5, 30, 15, 45, 5, 60 (on camera shows that he chewed for a bit, got up and went to the door, but then came back and resumed eating!), 10, 60, 30, 2x5 (with a rawhide, didn't eat but layed down), 20 (back to bully), 90, 30, 90, 5, 10 & 5 with rawhide, 120, 30, 20, 150 (bully gone when came back), 5, 10.

This was great! I kind've did a "it's yer choice" game with what bone he wanted. He always took the bully stick, except for one trial where I put pb on a rawide stick and he of course took that one. But then the next trial opted for the bully over the rawhide with just a little bit of pb left. On the couple trials where I said I used a rawhide, that was a choice between the rawhide and pigs ear. He never ate the rawhide when I was gone, but at least remained lying down and was calm. I am most happy about the first 60 sec trial, since even though Vito got up and went the door, he actually went back to his bed and resumed eating his bone!! On the 2.5min trial I did Vito finished his bully stick about 1min in, then went to drink some water, went the door, went back to bed to chew on a beef bone for about 10 sec, and then went back to the door till I came in about 20sec later. So I am very happy that he actually remained calm and good!

Day 14: Worked for 28min with mainly a rawhide chip, occasionally offered Vito a pigs ear and beef bone. "No" after the bone used indicates that he didn't chew on it.
We did: 2x5sec, 10, 20, 10, 30, 15, 30 (beef bone), 60, 2x10, 60, 20 & 10 (pigs ear-no), 45, 90, 30 (Beef bone-no), 15 (pigs ear-No), 90, 40 (stopped to drink water, I came back when still drinking), 40, 15, 120, 30, 10 (pigs ear, no), 180.

Also a good session. When noted I offered Vito a choice between 2 bones, if he chose any bone other than the rawhide chip this session he didn't eat it at all, but remained lying down on the dog bed till I came back in.

Week 2 Summary:
Only was able to do 8 sessions this week. Overall this was a good week but I am disappointed in a couple things. One is that at the start of the week I was able to do a 2min trial but wasn't really able to add any time. Today, day 14, I was able to do one 3min trial but other than that I've hovered around 1-2 minutes. I think part of the reason is that I've been hesitant to increase time when Vito's not eating his bone. He's becoming more picky on what bone he will eat when I'm gone. After discussing protocal on a message board I've decided that I'm still going to use Vito's willingness to eat a bone when I'm gone as a measurement of calmness, but I'm not going to get hung up on it as long as he isn't exhibiting any signs of anxiety. Unfortunatly there isn't any other way to tell quickly when I'm come back if he was calm or not. I'm going to start videotaping my sessions, but unless I review the tape between each small trial it won't help me until I'm done with a session.

I was very happy with the last two sessions in that even though Vito became picky and wouldn't eat any bone but a specific one that he wanted, he didn't move from his doggybed when I left! I am also happy in that a couple times he got off the dog bed to get a drink, or go to the door, but resumed eating his bone.

Week2 Data: Highest time reached was a 3min trial on day 14. Several 2min sessions were reached throughout the week. I'm still starting out with 10 sec trials and building, but feel confident now that we could start out with even 30sec.


Vito's 6 month video

Vito's 6 month video is up!!! I am running out of tricks that I want to do with him though. Obviously he still needs a ton of work perfecting the ones he already knows, but it's so much fun watching his little brain work when we're doing new things. I think my next focus is going to be on more service dog "tricks." We've only had one session with the sock so far, but I would like to teach Vito to open/close doors and drawers, help with the laundry, and turn off a light switch, etc. If I do decide to get back into service dog work it will be helpful to know how to teach the stuff!


Rowan's 1st Lure Course Trial!

Today we took a drive down to watch my very first lure coursing event. Lance and Vito's ridgeback cousin, Rowan, was competing in his first trial! The dogs were insanely excited. Apparently in lure coursing events all manners are thrown out the window and dogs are encouraged to be naughty. Lance wasted no time.
He was very interested in everything lure coursing. The sound of the motor was like bells to his ears, and Lance seemed to just know he could outrun those whippets to catch "da bunny." I have never heard him whine before, but whine, bark, and pull he did as he cursed his ineligibility to participate. Lance looked longingly at Rowan's cool cape.

BoldAnd barked his encouragement.
Vito also looked on with interest
But overall was more intrigued by the yummy grass.
Soon it was Rowan's turn to go. (Note the encouraged naughtiness!)
Just a speck in the distance
Then came a lot of waiting until Rowan's next run. Lance stole both pigs ears and was so happy!
He played it smart and kept cool.

Vito just wanted to play. Luckily there was another field where I took the 2 pups to play some fetch. But even Vito's tounge rolled out to the side, he still didn't know what to do with himself. He eventually decided to bother grandma
Finally Rowan was up again. This time wearing stylish blue
All ready to goGet da bunny!
Rowan ended up doing very well for his first trial. Hopefully next time he will be able to enter in doubles! And as for Lance, I'm just hoping the thrill of being allowed to bark, pull, and whine doesn't go to his head!


Lance Obedience Run Through

Since Vito's agility class is taking a break today and next Friday, I was able to go to a run through at SPDTC (not his normal club). Because of the problems we've been having in a ring at trial I decided to try something different. I knew that if I brought treats into the ring Lance would have no problem, well at least not a problem with being distracted. But this time I decided to see what would happen if I left the treats on the table and told the "judge" that I just wanted to do 2 heeling patterns and exit the ring between each pattern to treat him. That was the plan.

Lance started out great, there was even the "slow" right away and he still maintained eye contact. But by the first halt Lance was gone. It was extremely hard to even get him back into heel when I told him swing, and I just settled for a sit. By the time I finished the first pattern I was glad I had Lance on leash since he was ready to bolt out of the ring. The judge thought Lance knew he got treats out of the ring, but since this was the first time trying this I knew he didn't and was just excited. It was frustrating. I gave him a whole bunch of treats anyway and got ready to do the second pattern. He was a bit better the second time, but it still wasn't pretty. This time as Lance was ready to bolt the judge said she would call out a right turn which helped since Lance hit the end of the leash and then did run to catch up with me.

I know that Lance is affected by my body language in a ring setting, but I also know that this behavior is not because he is shutting down in any way. Lance does shut down easily, but this did not look like that in anyway. His attitude was very excited.

It is just really frustrating because it is so hard to work on. I feel that doing small heeling patterns and then running out to get treats could help Lance, but even if I was able to do a run through every week (which I rarely can do) I can still only do 2 heeling patterns in the time I'm allowed. Ideally I would have liked to do at least 2 more so Lance would get the game. If I would have given Lance even 2 treats in that ring he would have been fine like he was in our warmup, but that clearly hasn't helped his real trials where I can't do that.

So anyway that is my vent for today!


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk1

I have started to keep a log of my SA sessions to track my progress and enable me to see where I am doing great and where I may have raised criteria too quickly. I recommend that you not read the rest of this blog, or at least skip to the last paragraph unless you are really interested! At least to the right I've included a picture of what Lance gets to do when I'm acting like a nut walking in and out of the house. He takes it to his "special hiding spot."

I started the SA sessions on May 7th and briefly blogged about it then, so this starts with Day 2.

Day2: Worked for about 10-15mn. Started with 3 exit/enters only, then progressed to a couple 10sec absences, and a few 30seconds. Vito did great for the first approximately 8mn, but then stopped chewing his bones. I kept entering and picking up the bones and putting back down the bones as I left anyway. Within 2 more trials he was happily chewing his bones again, so I did 2x30sec trials and called it quits.

Day2 session2: Worked for 10mn and did 11 trials. Did 10sec, 15sec, 4x30sec, 40sec, 2x45sec, 60sec, 30sec. At no time did he stop chewing his bones or get up from the doggy bed.
After I was done, I left Vito in the kitchen with a rawhide and the baby gate up while I went to the living room. He is still being content to chew his bone for the past 20mn. I am sure he knows I am home, but I'm being very quiet typing this so who knows.

Day 3: Worked for about 10-15mn and did 10 trials with a pigs ear. We did 20sec, 2x30, 45, I added pb to one of the bones to reward him, 2x60, 75, 2x90, added more pb, 105, 60. Vito did great, chewed his pig ear the entire time.

Day 4: I read that it's better to do long sessions rather than short ones when treating SA, so I set out with that in mind. I ended up doing 37 trials over 35mn, but it was not what I had planned. I started with 45sec, but Vito wasn't eating his bone (rawhide strip) when I came back so I then did 2x10sec trials, but Vito still wasn't eating. I then did 6xout/in trials where he started to eat his bone by the last couple. Next I did 3x10sec, 20, 30, I then offered him a marrow bone as well. I did 45sec, 2x60, 3x90. On the last 90sec trial Vito was standing on the dog bed when I came in, I think he had just finished chewing his bone as I was walking in. So I moved it down to a 30, 60, 75, but on the 75sec trial Lance barked outside at Adam and when I came in Vito was waiting by the door. I then sighed and did a 60sec trial where he wasn't eating, did 2xout/ins, and a 30sec where he was eating. I then bumped it to 45sec where he wasn't eating again, did 2x10sec where he was eating, 20sec, 2x30sec where he again wasn't eating on the last 30sec trial. So I did 3x15sec where he was eating and ended with a 30sec.

This was extremely frustrating. I didn't want to go so long, but I wanted to end on a good note. He mainly preferred the rawhide strip to the marrow bone, but went back and forth when both were down. I probably should have worked my way up and shouldn't have started with such a high time.

Day4 Session2: Worked for 30mn and did about 64 trials. This was also not the greatest session. I started with a pigs ear for Vito and just doing some out/ins (O/I) (about 2o trials), but Vito wouldn't even touch the bone until about 5mn in. I then tried a 10sec trial but it was too long as he was by the door when I cam in. So I did about 20xO/Is and Vito didn't touch the pigs ear until about the 15th trial. I then put a little rawhide down and 3x5sec trials where Vito chewed on the rawhide. I decided to put peanut butter on the pigs ear and did 3x10sec trials with Vito happily licking off the pb and 2x O/I. He was done licking off the pb at this point, but chewing on the ear so I did 15sec, 2x5, 2x10, 2xO/I, 15, 2x20, 2x5, 2x20, 15, 30.

I didn't feel like I could push it with any longer time this session so the highest I got up to was 1 30sec trial. He did have major diarrhea right after so maybe that had something to do with it? Aftwerward I waited about 10mn and left him in the kitchen with a different rawhide to chew on while I was in the living room. He chewed on it for a couple minutes before stopping and waiting quietly to be let out. I decided to go into the kitchen and put the dishes away to get him eating again before leaving him "alone" again.

Day 5: I worked for 20mn and did 41 trials with a pigs ear and a rawhide stick, but Vito went after the pigs ear the whole time. I started with 6xO/I, 2x5sec, O/I, 2x5- on all of those trials I decided not to pick up the bone upon coming in the house in order to get him really started on it. For the rest of the time, I picked up both bones upon coming in the house, except on the O/I trials I did not. I then did 3x10sec, 3xO/I, 2x15, 20, 2x5, 20 and then added pb to the pigs ear to reward him. I then did 2x30, 3xO/I, 30, 40, 2x10, 45, 5, 2x10, 45, 3xO/I, 10.

Vito chewed on the pigs ear the entire time we worked. I really tried to keep it very easy with him, the longest time I was gone was 1 45sec trial. I've decided that I really want to keep the times varied that I am gone, not always leaving longer. I know when teaching "stays" you have to be careful to make the time random so the dog continues to enjoy the stay and not dread each stay longer than the previous one. For SA, I have read conflicting ideas on what to do. Some articles say that it's ok to continually increase time since you are working on changing the emotional response and the dog is (hopefully) getting continual reinforcement while you are gone. I think that I am going to vary it though to be on the safe side and not risk Vito becoming anxious.

Day 6: I worked for 20mn and did 27 trials with a pigs ear and rawhide stick down. Vito only chewed on the pigs ear. I did 3x5sec, 2x10, 2x20, 2x5, 3x30, 10, 45, 2x5, 45, 60, 30, 60, 30, 15, 75, 2x10, 45, 60.

He chewed on the ear on the entire time. The highest time reached was a 75sec trial, but Vito also did 3x60sec with no problem.

Day 7: I worked for 25mn and did 29 trials with a pigs ear and rawhide stick down. He only chewed on the pigs ear except for a couple trials where I also added a empty marrow bone with some peanut butter smeared inside. I started with 10sec, but it was apparently too much as Vito was by the door when I came in, so I did a O/I, 3x5, 2x10 and Vito started eating the ear immediately on the first O/I. I then put the pb bone down and Vito licked it for the next 3 trials. 10, 2x30, 15, 60, 20, 2x60, 20, 5, 75, 90, 2x20, 90, 2x5, 75, 15, 30.

Wk1 Conclusion:
This has been the end of the first week of work. I was only able to do 9 sessions because of my split work schedule, but I still feel that it was a good week. In some ways we didn't make any improvements by the 9th session than the 3rd (highest time gone today was 90sec, highest time gone on the 9th was 105sec), but I feel more confident on my departures now. I think that I started out too high, even though he did great on day3, I don't think Vito fully understood the game (that I come back shortly and that great bones are his when I'm gone!) and that's why he started feeling anxious again on day 4. But I think that Vito is doing good now. It appears as though he really wants the bone and doesn't want me to come back to take it away.

Wk1 Data: Highest time by end of week (not including day3) was several 90sec trials. Still need to start each session with no greater than 5sec departures and gradually work up.


Cuddle Buddies



I decided to take time today to teach a trick I've wanted to do for a long time. Vito was up first, although technically the cat beat him to it. When I was still shaping Vito to stick his head in, Luke decided that dogs were stupid and jumped in right away. Unfortunately, no pictures of that!
Vito was really confident, but it took him awhile to figure out what I wanted. Several times he wanted to try his handstand trick and use his back legs to kick the top open. Then he didn't want to lie down on the the suitecase floor since the metal bars were apparently too hard. I tried a doggy bed in there for a bit, but Vito just wanted to eat his bed! So the bed came out and he eventually got it. Well, most of the time his tail stuck out :)

Lance was up next, but Vito didn't want to share

I kicked the little bugger out and got started. Lance had no problem quickly learning to lie down in the open suitcase, but it was quite a jump for him. When I started to gradually close the lid on him though, Lance became unsure of the game. He even tried balancing on the edge of the suitcase, neither out nor in, to see if that would produce treats. It did not. So soon Lance became brave and very quickly figured out how to flip the lid open himself to get in.

It turns out he didn't even need to lie down inside to not be seen :) So I had to call him out to get any pictures. His ears support the top


Tired pups

Both dogs are tired. Lance even let Vito cuddle up to him.

They can barely keep their eyes open
And they're out

Lance did well in his agility class. We mainly worked on pinwheels and a couple sequences to work our front crosses. At home I did some weave poles with him where we almost have a closed channel. There's probably only a one inch channel between the poles!

Before I left for class and dropped Vito off at daycare, I worked on some separation with Vito. At first he was extremely confused on my repeatedly coming and goings out the door. He even went and hid under the kitchen table. I'm sure he was thinking I lost my mind. He wouldn't chew on any bones for the first 15mn of my insanity, but I kept going since I didn't want to quit until I saw him comfortable and knew he would settle down. Finally he started to chew his bone and ignore my erratic behavior! So we have a start at 30second departures!


How to really fix Seperation Anxiety

I am writing this to officially commit myself to a full separation anxiety program with Vito. I have decided that just working on it now and then and has helped, but each time I have to leave him alone for real it undoes most of the work I have put in. While I was extremely excited about his behavior when I first left him alone in the kitchen, it has since gotten worse as he is now whining, pacing, and not eating his bones anymore. So here is my pledge for the next 4-8wks to do the full SA program.

For those of you who are interested I will describe a little bit of it.

1. Keeping my departures and arrivals unemotional. I already do this so it shouldn't be a problem.

2. A counterconditioning program. This is most of the work. Luckily since Vito isn't a horrible case, I can skip a couple steps in this and don't have to get him used to my pre-departure cues. Most dogs feel anxious as your getting ready to go, like when you pick up your keys, put on your shoes, etc. Since Vito comes with me most places he doesn't know when I'm leaving him until I actually close the door behind me. So this will save me at least 1wk of work as I can skip to actually leaving the house right away.

However, most of this work with Vito will involve me putting down a bone (that he probably won't eat in the beginning), opening the door, closing the door, and picking back up the bone. Then gradually extending it till I am actually leaving for longer periods of time before coming back in and picking up the bone. The first 10mn will be the hardest to conquer, since I don't really want to raise criteria until he he is calm enough to actually eat something when I'm gone. I want Vito to think "Drat! She's come back! I want my bone!"

3. Never Leaving him alone. This is why most people think they can't do this program. If you do all the counterconditioning work with your dog and then leave him alone why you go to work, your dog feels anxious again and you are back to square one. Luckily with my jobs I only have to leave Vito alone x2/wk when Lance has his classes. But now I have made a commitment that Vito will not be left alone to feel anxious during those times so Vito will be dropped off at daycare. For other people out there, options are dropping your dog off at a neighbor's house who works from home, hiring a dog sitter, or doggy daycare. IF you have absolutely can't do that, you could set your dog in 2 seperate areas of the house. One room you would use when you are working with him and where he will never feel anxious, room 2 is where he would go when you have to leave for real and he will get anxious. Just be careful that you put your dog in the 2nd room before you go through those predeparture cues or you will undue all your work.

4. Getting your dog un-velcroed. This is mainly what I've been doing with Vito so far. Teaching Vito that he only gets bones when he is in his crate, away from me. Doing crate games where he has strong drive to run to his crate and stay in there with the door open. Not letting him snuggle with me for long periods of time. Letting him "chill" in a room where he can see me but is baby gated away from me. Working on stays, especially doing out of sight stays. And just basic impulse control where he can learn to be patient and deal with frustration.

Most dogs can be completely "cured" of SA in 6-8 wks. So while it really involves a ton of work, seriously it will be so annoying to have to keep leaving and entering the house, it has an extremely high success rate. I am hoping that if I keep at it, Vito will be better in a lot less time because of his age, non destructive behavior, and lack of predepature cues I have to desensitize. But either way, I am announcing my commitment to once and for all get rid of the SA beast!

Update:  I spent 13wks devoted to fixing his SA and you can read any and all posts relating to his progress under the label "SA". We built up to about 3hrs of absences and seemed to hit a wall but with our lifestyle, 3hrs was liveable.

Update 2/2012:  Vito's anxieties increased dramatically when he hit 2yrs of age.  Due to the likely strong influence of genetics, we decided to put Vito on medication.  He is currently on Fluoxetine.



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