Rally run through

Yesterday Lance went to a rally obedience run through at one of the local clubs in the cities. Lance had never been there before so I thought it would be perfect to treat it like a "real show" and even brought cheese for treats and his canned food for afterward. It was a really long course, with 2 serpentines and 2 spirals. I did it all off leash and while he was a little distracted I was able to call him back to me really easily. His sits were very crooked in the beginning but improved as we continued.

I decided to do another run with him, partly since they didn't have any change for my money :) The second time through Lance was almost perfect! Obviously he got better since he just had some practice and wasn't as distracted by everything. But I'm also hoping he improved in hopes of getting the major reward after leaving the ring!

I am a positive trainer so I don't train with force. My consequences are mainly negative punishment (removal of rewards, time outs) and then a simple verbal "ah ah" is all I've ever needed to follow through with on very important matters (don't bolt through an open gate, leave what dropped, etc). So in the ring where I can't reward, I still want my dog to know that he can still earn reinforcement. I am hoping that by October when we will hopefully enter our first open opedience trial Lance will have had enough experience with getting amazing treats (canned cat food!) after leaving the ring.

Here's a Lancey Pants looking out the window at grandmas :)


A big boy collar!

Wow, 3 posts in one day! You guys are so lucky :) I just wanted to share some pictures I took today of the dogs. Vito's new collar came in the mail today and he looks so handsome! Up until today he has been wearing the same collar he had on at 8weeks of age that the breeder had him in. Isn't that sad! My little midget toller! In his defense it started out as small as it could be and by the end it is (almost) as big as it can be. But I was waiting to order him a new collar until I knew what size he would need fully grown. It turns out he just needs a small, same as Lance :( But at least now his collar is 1in wide unstead of 1/4in wide, ah all grown up!

But now the dogs have matching Hawaiian collars, Vito has red and Lance has blue! Collars are from Carols Charming Puppy Palace and are incredibly cheap and cute :) It just makes me want a girl dog so I wouldn't have to look for the more "masculine" collars. Anyway, I tried to take some pictures of the dog's today in their new collars. Unforunately you can't see even see the collars with all of their fur!

But I did manage to get this one :)
Oh Lance!
And just for fun, here's the kitty!
Ok, I just wanted to show everyone how much fur I've gotten off of Luke in two days. When petting him it doesn't really seem like he's shedding, but the furminator is getting fistfulls of fur off of our 9lb cat!


Targeting fun!

The past couple of days I've been doing a lot of targeting work with my dogs. It has also caused me to reflect on how useful targeting is and I thought I would devote a post solely to targeting.

For the non dog trainer readers, targeting is simply teaching the dog to touch his nose or paw to something. In puppy classes, I start out with the dog nose to owner's hand targeting. Stuff to do with hand targeting:

1. Keep your dog's attention on YOU and not everything else in the world. Similar to just asking for a "watch me" but hand targeting is generally easier when they're insanely distracted as it allows the dog to look at what they want but still focus on you for a second.

2. A replacement for luring. When teaching new behaviors, you can skip luring your dog with a treat, and just use targeting to get your dog to spin, turn, swing to heel, etc. You could also teach your dog to heel with hand targeting although I don't use that method myself.

3. Hand signal for come. If a dog knows to touch his nose to your hand, you can easily call your dog to come far away by just putting out your hand. I find it extremely helpful for owners as it gets them to actively train a recall instead of just shouting come over and over and expecting their novice dog to do it.

4. Fears. Since Vito was in a fear period recently (I think he's over it?), I've gotten to use this one a lot! Once you can get your dog closer to what they're apprehensive about, you can ask for hand touches close the object. Then a hand touch while your hand is touching the scary thing. Finally you can ask the dog to touch the object themselves without your hand there.

A lot of the hand targeting stuff can also be used with a target stick. Just teach your dog to follow a stick, or a wooden spoon, whatever and you have a nice extension of your hand. Some people teach many tricks this way, including heeling, backwards heeling, retrieving specific items, and really any trick you could teach through luring. I haven't personally done any training with target sticks but there are even some on the market now with clickers in the handle!

But most of my target training in the past couple days have been with a target lid. Basically I grab a top to an empty butter container and teach my dog to touch their nose to the lid. This is a bit harder, but still very easy for dogs to learn. Instead of asking for a nose touch, some train a paw touch instead. In Vito's 11wk video I show him using a paw touch since that's what my very pawwy dog first offered. At first I didn't care, but I later changed my mind and only rewarded nose touches.

Things to do with object targeting:

1. Place. While I personally free shape the place cue (run over, lie down, and do an automatic stay on a mat), I teach most others to do it via targeting. Just put your target lid on the dog bed so when the dog targets he is on the bed. Then you can either just start clicking when the dog is on the bed before he touches the target and then take away the target completely, or make the lid smaller and smaller so the dog is running over to his bed without even seeing the target.

2. Utility go backs. I haven't fully decided on what method I'm going to use to teach my dog's the go out (run straight out away from me, and then turn and sit on cue) but targeting is one of them that I've been doing. (The other method is Sue Ailsby's "punch it" where Lance runs and jumps on a wall.) Either way, it's easy to teach your dog to run farther and farther to the target. With Lance I've already been randomly having him turn and sit before reaching the target sometimes, and other times just rewarding him going all the way and then sitting.

3. Directionals. In obedience dogs have to do a directed retrieve where you tell them what glove to pick up based on the direction you are facing. Since I don't always want to practice the full chain, I've been breaking it down this week and just asking Lance and Vito to run to the correct target I'm pointing them towards. The hard part about this exercise anyway isn't the retrieve but having your dog actually go the correct glove.

4. Agility contacts. There are a billion ways to teach your dog to hit the yellow on the contact obstacles and many of them start out with having the dog target a lid on the floor immediately after the obstacle. I haven't fully decided what I want my criteria to be on the teeter, but as of now I'm putting the target on the teeter and rewarding the dogs for driving to the end.

Since I'm doing running contacts on the aframe and dogwalk, I just move the target several feet from the obstacle. This allows me to have my dogs driving forward with focus ahead, not worrying about my position. (Don't ask about the weird striped board!)

5. Anytime you want your dog focused forward. I've used targeting to get my dogs over a small sequence of jumps when they're first learning. I've also used it after the weave poles with Lance (he won't work for a thrown toy and thrown treats get lost in the grass!).

6. Teaching tricks. If your dog has a foot target to lid then this is an easy way to teach them to cross thier paws. Simply have them lie down and paw target, then slowly move the target closer and closer to their other foot so they have to cross over to touch it! Since my dogs don't have a paw target to a lid I taught them to "pose" and "cross paws" through paw targeting my hand (aka "shake").

But this week I also wanted to work on Lance's "reverse" where he is several feet away from me facing me, then on cue turns away from me and backs up to me. He is really good at backing up towards me, but now that we have more distance he is starting to cheat and sideways hop to me until he gets closer and finally completes his back turn. Since I haven't offically taught him to do a 180 turn I can't really blame him :P So this week I've been putting a target lid right behind him and rewarding him when he did a nice turn away from me and to the target. Then I started to chain the two behaviors and already am seeing great improvements in his "reverse!"

So there is my tribute to targeting!!!


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk7

Week 7! Skip to the summary...

Day 43: Started with the big bully for 60sec, 180. Big bully2 for 30sec. Big bully for 11.25min-N (ate for 8min), 20sec, 60, 30, 10min-N (ate for 1.5min, resumed eating at 5min for 45sec).

Good and bad. The bad is that the longest he remained actually eating was 8min. Unfortunately when I came back in on that 11.25min trial it looked like he had just finished chewing so I wasn't aware that he hadn't been for the last 3minutes. This led me to do another long trial which he obviously didn't do. The good is that I was able to do a 3min departure on only the second leave. I am also happy that although he wasn't eating his bones and was doing a little panting (I think do the the heat), he remained calm for a very long time. Especially on the last trial he was basically lying down for 9minutes without doing anything! I am also happy that he resumed eating on that trial, if only for a little bit.

Day 44: Started with big bully for 90sec, 30, bigbully2 for 150, big bully for 5.5min, bigbully2 for 90, stuffed ear for 30, big bully2 for 20, 7.5min, 45, 12min.

Yay! Longest trial was 12min and he chewed bones the entire time :)

Day 45: 30sec, 105, 20, 180, 30, 5min-N (ate for only 2min), 20, 30-N, 60, 7.5min-N (ate for 2min). I then put Lance inside with Vito and gave both a bully stick for 11.25min (wasn't eating at beginning, then started to eat), 3.75min-N (didn't eat at all).

He wasn't interested in his bones much at all. I thought would try and see how well he would do with Lance in the room. In the past it hasn't made a difference, but we haven't done it in several months since Vito was a baby. I was impressed that he started eating and ate for a long time on the first trial with Lance, but on the second one he didn't eat at all and his body language was about the same as being alone. I wouldn't quite classify his body language as bad, he's lying down, but he is a little anxious at times with doing some panting. Longest trial was 11.25min but longest time eating was 2.5min.

Day 46: 90, 180, 30, 30, 60, 6.5min (chewed up till the last 10sec), 30-N, 60-N. Got out tricky treat ball for 75sec, 9min (played for 7.5min)

Ok I guess. Once again if he's done eating before I come back he won't touch a bone for the rest of the session. Longest trial was 9min with tricky treat but he wasn't eating for all of it.

Day 47: 60sec, 150, 30, 5min, 20, 150-N, 10, 50-N (kitty knocked over baby gate at 45sec), 10-N, 10min-N.

Again not really into his bones. The dumb cat knocked over the baby gate and startled him, but he already had a no before that trial. I still did a 10min trial just to see how he would do and he remained on his bed the entire time.

Day 48: 40sec-N (bully). Switched to stuffed pigs ear for remainder of time 20sec, 60, 10, 195, 30, 5.5min, 30, 10, 15min.

Yay!!! We did a 15min trial where he ate his bone the entire time!

Day 49: 105sec, 20, 5.5min, 30, 10, 15min-N (ate for 7.75min), 10-N, 30-N, 30-N, 10-N, 60-N.

Not into his bones. Longest trial was 15min but he only ate for 7.75min.

Week 7 Summary: Well I was able to do a 15min trial with Vito eating a bone the entire time!!! But overall the week kinda sucked. He wasn't wanting is bones at all and with the weather being hot it is hard to tell if Vito's panting is due to the heat or anxiety (we have air so it's not that hot inside). I still did at least a 10min trial everyday even if I knew he wasn't going to be eating. But on the positive side we still jumped from 10 to 15minutes departures which isn't too bad in a week.


Corgi MN day!

Today was a scheduled Corgi Minnesota get together! A couple times a summer fellow corgi lovers meet up at dog parks around the twin cities to let the corgis play. Usually our group can be quite annoying as corgis just love to chase other dogs, especially dogs chasing after balls. But today not many corgis were able to make it, the weather being downcast didn't help. I think there were six corgis by the end.

But not to be deterred, the small group zoomed after the ball!
Luckily for the group, a little retriever was brought along to help bring the balls back!
Oh Lance!

Even when he didn't make it there first, Vito just waited patiently until the ball was inevitably dropped along the way.
The corgis could generally outsprint little Vito but he knew that he could carry the ball to someone's hand shortly
Soon the gang was pooped so Adam decided to try a little agility obstacles with the dogs. Tunnel!
Lance's turn! Umm...Lance?
I guess he just needed a little help
Pooped puppies


Another agility update

Lance is really the perfect dog :) At agility Thursday the instructor was reminding us all to pay attention to where our feet are pointed. There had been quite a few screw ups where the handlers meant to tell the dog to go one way, but since their body was twisted dogs naturally went to where the owners feet were telling them- good dogs!

When it was Lance's turn to go, he illustrated this so perfectly it was ridiculous. As soon as I had Lance in a "wait" at the start line and went out a little bit, his head turned toward me, looked at my face, down to my shoes, faced ahead, back to my shoes, and then looked ahead again. He was very seriously calculating the line of travel we were going to be taking!

I'm sure that he's probably done it before, but today it couldn't have been more exaggerated as his head swiveled between looking ahead and at my shoes.

Now with Vito's class on Friday he was a little naughty. Twice he blew me off to run to the instructors. They were the ones treating him at the bottom of the a-frame since he is speed demon, and apparently Vito wanted more. Vito also pulled another stunt later in the class. When setting him up for a small sequence, Vito completely blew off his "wait" and headed straight for the a-frame. To make it even worse, as I called his name Vito paused for a half second, thought about it, and then continued his way to the a-frame where he vaulted over it! Naughty puppy!

I am really going to have to work hard with Vito when it comes to handling. All of the contact obstacles are magnets to him. Vito absolutely looses his mind at the slightest prospect of getting to fly over one. I was so happy that I got Vito into the tunnel right next to the A-frame at the start of the sequence, only to have Vito zoom out and immediately curl back around to hit the a-frame on his way out. *sigh* At least he is extremely responsive right now to any handling on low jumps.


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk6

It has been 6 weeks of this crap. Skip to the summary at the end if you desire...

Day 36: Worked for 23min with a stuffed pigs ear. We did 30sec, 60, 20, 180, 70, 8min, 60, 5min.

Yay! We did an 8 min trial today!!! He also at the bone the entire time, and I was able to leave for 1 min on only the second departure!

Day 37: Worked for a whopping 40min with a new steer stick, and tricky treat ball mainly. Started with the stuffed ear for 45sec, he chose the bully stick for 30-N. I got out a new steer stick for 120, 10, 8.75min-N (he ate for 7min, stood up, and then sat back down to wait), 10sec-N. Stuffed ear for 20sec, 60-N (ate for 45sec). Got out TT ball with kibble and treats for 3min, 7.25min-N (it apparently fell down the stairs after 3.5min, he was under the kitchen table for the remainder), 60sec, 4min.

This was an interesting session. I was bummed that he wasn't wanting the bully stick or the stuffed pigs ear, but apparently he was ok with a steer stick (go figure). I don't know if I jumped time to high or if he just wasn't into it, but he didn't make it the 8.75min trial. At least he was content for 7 min of it! What really bums me though is that even though he isn't majorly stressed and is quiet when he's not eating his bone by the end of the trial, he is obviously too stressed to even chew a bone for any amount of time on the next trials. Unfortunately, I had left the basement door open a crack for the cat on the TT ball trial and it rolled down the stairs. The stairs are steep, and Vito knows he's not allowed in the basement anyway, so he hid underneath the table for the rest of the trial. I don't know if he "hid" because he thought I would be upset, or if he was really more anxious than the other sessions. He was quiet during that time, but it seems like a shut down behavior that Vito is good at doing at the slightest hint of tension in my demeanor.

Day 37, session 2: Worked for 20 min with a new stuffed pigs ear. Started 10-N (with pb rawhide chip), 20, 60, 5 (with steer stick), 210, 30, 8.5min, 200.

Great session. Longest time was 8.5min and he ate the bone every time but the first.

Day 38: Worked for 20min the the stuffed pigs ear from yesterday. Started with 45, 120, 20, 4.5min, 60. 9.25min (also with a dried sweet potato for the first 4min), 30-N, 10, 30, 180-N, 5-N.

Good session. Got up to 9.25min!!! I think he was thirsty on the last few as I forgot to bring in the water and he drank a lot when finished.

Day 39: Worked with a variety of stuff. Started with a new stuffed pigs ear for 60sec. Used a steer stick for 15, 105, 20, 4min-N (only ate for 10sec). Back to stuffed ear for 10-N, 10-N. Back to steer for 10, pb chip for 10-N, steer for 10sec. Got out tricky treat ball for 120sec, 8.5min-N (played for 6.5min, then kinda showed interest off and on for the remaining).

Not the greatest. Vito wasn't interested in his bones much at all. The tricky treat ball was ok, but it was a bit wet inside since I had to clean it out and the kibble/treats got a bit wet. This may be why he was more reluctant to play with it after 6.5min, maybe not...

Day 40: Started with a new big bully stick for 60sec, 45-N, 20, 60, 5-N. A new stuffed ear for 15-N. Back to big bully for 10, 20-N. A small steer stick for 10, 20, 60, 90, 180, 20. All bones for 5min-N, 30-N, 5.5min-N.

Again he really wasn't interested in his bones. I was really excited too about the prospect of a new big bully but if anything he preferred the smaller and used steer stick. At least he remained on his dog bed and seemed fine on the 5min departures.

Day 41: Started with the big bully stick for 30sec, the steer stick for 45sec, stuffed ear for 60sec-N, big bully for 20-N, steer for 60sec, 135-N. All bones for 4min-N (ate for 30sec), 8.5min tricky treat ball (played for 8min).

And once again didn't care about the bones. AFter the 135-N, and 4min-N trial he was panting when I came in. That worries me. On the 8.5min trial with the tricky treat ball, the ball crashed into the recycling and made a large noise at 8mins. I think this scared him as he went immediately to his bed, stared at it for awhile, and then just waited till I came back.

Day 41, session2: Started with the steer stick for 15sec, 30, 60, 15, 120, 10. I got out a new big bully stick (not quite as big as gigantic bully stick used earlier) and did 60sec, 4.5min, 45, 8.75min, 30.

Good session. Apparently he's like Goldilocks and thinks the big bully stick is too big, but a slightly smaller one is perfect. So I will now refer to the bone used today as bigbully2. Longest time done today was 8.75min.

Day 42: Started with big bully stick for 60sec, switched to big bully2 for 60sec, 20, 3.75min, 90, 10.5min, 60, 10, 8.25min.

Yay! Longest trial was 10.5min and he ate his bone the entire time. The last trial I had planned on doing another 10min departure but I saw my upstairs neighbors coming home and that usually gets Vito to stop eating. So I decided to end it right before they came up their stairs.

Week 6 Summary:
Well clearly this is going to take longer than I had originally thought. Most dogs are completely cured of SA in 6-8wks (at least that's what the books say!) but I think it'll be at least another 3 weeks for Vito. And since we basically started in week 3 of the program, we suck. Maybe I'm just too conservative on departures, I don't know. But either way we finally conquered the 10 min milestone today!!! I'm at least hoping that the first 10 minutes are the hardest to get and now we can hopefully work up to 20-30 minute departures quickly. In other positive news, we are also able to start out with a 60sec departure right away and quickly build.

May Lance's good fortune smile upon us


Kitties, plastic bags, and baby gates, oh my!

I'm fairly certain that little Vito has been going through a fear period the last 2 weeks. He is 7.5 months old now and is suddenly a lot more skittish about changes in his environment.

The funniest example, to me anyway, occurred a couple evenings ago. We had just put the ferrets away and were taking down the baby gate to let the dogs outside when suddenly all the fur on Vito's back when straight up and he started his high pitch shrill barking. I think I heard a couple of growls in there too as Vito refused to move into the kitchen. At first we had no clue what was going on, and I was just about ready to believe that someone could be in the house, when we saw IT. The cat, the same cat Vito has been living with and even wrestling with for the past 5 months, was sitting on the small cat tree. It was utterly terrifying! Adam had to actually go up to Luke and pet him before Vito would even consider setting a foot in the kitchen.

Other scary things have been plastic shopping bags with a few items falling off the couch, a toaster oven that fell, baby gates he has bumped into (thankfully these ones didn't fall), certain people (especially the ones reaching towards him), and I'm sure some more examples I can't think of. Each time I make sure to work with his fear and get him ok with the scary objects. I start out just giving him treats for being in the same area, and then quickly shape Vito into doing a nose touch on the object. Once he is fine with a quick touch, I then try and move the object while rewarding Vito for not freaking out. I just hope this fear period is over soon!

Now a potentially deadly combination, kitty and a plastic bag!!!


The ferrets boogie down

The ferrets want to play!

Ok, so it's not my favorite* ferret video, but I didn't think it was that bad. Next, I'm trying to motivate myself to train the fuzzbutts and put up a trick video of them. Too bad the only ferrets who want to participate in training are the deaf and dumb one, and the just plain dumb one. The smart girls don't want to play that game.

*in case you were wondering my favorite ferret video of mine is Extreme Ferrets


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk5

And we are on week five of our adventures! I can't believe that it's been 35 days of me entering and leaving the house repeatedly! So here is the daily reports for the week, skip to the bottom for the summary if you aren't interested...

Day 29, session 1: Worked for 22min with the gigantic bully stick. Started 2x10sec, 30. He chose a pigs ear for 30-N, 10-N, chose a plain rawhide chip for 30-N, back the the bully stick and also left the chip down for 10-N, 60-N, 30-N, 105-N, 10-N, 30-N. I discovered Vito had the hiccups so I sat with him for a bit. Then did 5-N, 20-N, 90-N, 15-N, 5-N, 120-N.

So Vito didn't really chew any bone at all. I don't know what to think anymore. You'll notice that I still did some "longer" trials just to see what he would do. Even though he wasn't eating the bone, he did remain on his dog bed the whole time. I've noticed though that when he's not eating the bone when I come in he tends to shrink back and curl up when I take away the bone. It's like he thinks I'm upset with him, although I know I am keeping my body language the same and even talking in a very happy voice. I generally give him one stroke on the head/back when I come in and this brings him out of his curl.

Day 29, session2:
Worked for 21 minutes with a dried sweet potato, pig ear twist, and bully stick. Started with the potato for 5, 15, 5, 60, 10, 120, 180. (On this last trial he finished the potato, went to get some water, went back to his bed, lied down after a little bit, and then just started to nibble on his pig ear twist that I also left down on this trial). Since the potato was gone, I just left the pig twist for 10-N, 30-N. I then also put down the bully stick for 5, 60, 10, 5min-N (ate for 3min, then just stared at the door. some panting), 10-N, 5-N, 20, 10-N.

This was a little better. Vito's never had a sweet potato before so he was very interested in it. Unfortunately they don't last all that long so it was soon gone less than 10min into the session. He has also never had a pigs ear twist (but has had plain pigs ears) but didn't seem that interested. I figured he wouldn't eat the whole 5min I was gone one trial, but thought I would see what he would do. Again he remained on the dog bed but did start panting a little bit. He wasn't shaking and didn't seem that anxious, so I don't really know if I should make something of it or not.

Day 30, session 1: Worked for 24min with a variety of bones that he mainly didn't eat. Started with a pb rawhide chip for 5sec, 15. Bully stick for 5sec, 30. PB chip for 10, 60-N. Bully stick for 20-N, 5-N. Rst of the trials put down the bully stick, pb rawhide, and the pigs ear twist for 130-N, 20-N, 60-N, 10-N, 180-N (at 2.5min got up, went partway to the door, and immediatley went bck to his bed), 20-N, 10-N (little panting), 60-N, 5min-N (by door after 90sec), 10-N, 5-N, 20-N.

So Vito didn't chew at all after the first 5 trials. I'm keeping going under the premise that since I can't get him to eat at all, I might as well see how calm he can remain for longer trials. He did a little bit of panting by the end, but video shows he wasn't panting when I was gone. I am bummed that on the 5min trial he sat by the door instead of remaining on his dog bed. At least there is still no whining or pacing.

Day 30 session 2: Worked for 20min with a beef bone and then the bully stick. Started with a new basted beef bone for 10sec, 30, 10, 60, 5, 180, 20, 5. I then gave him both the beef bone and the bully stick and we did 5min (started chewing the beef, at some point switched the the bully), 10, 30, 5.25min.

This was actually a good session!!! Vito chewed a bone the entire time and I was able to do two 5min trials! I debated about doing another long one, but wanted to end on a good note. I also had a DAP diffuser plugged in for the first time, so this may have made a difference, who knows. I plugged it in right before starting the trial and don't really know how long it takes to have an effect.

Day 31: Worked for 30min with a variety of bones and the tricky treat ball. Started with a basted beef bone for 5sec-N, 5. Bully stick for 10, 30, 5, 60, 10. Pig stick for 15, 5-N. Bully for 120, 20. Pb rawhide chip for 10. Bully for 5.5min-N (ate for 4.75min), 5-N, 10-N, 5. Kibble in a tricky treat ball (his 2nd time using one) for 10, 5, 30, 60, 30, 4min, 5.

Ok session I guess. He wasn't really into his bones, and didn't eat the full 5.5min on his longest trial but it was ok. At leat he was willing to work for his kibble in the tricky treat ball!!! It's still very novel to him as it was only his 2nd time using it, but still he worked for boring kibble for 4min.

Day 32: No session done :(

Day 33: Worked for 26min with mainly a bully stick and also a dried sweet potato. Started with bully stick for 10sec-N. He chose the beef stick for 10, 5, 30-N. Back to the bully for 10, 30, 60, 20, 120, 20, 4.25min, 10, 60. Brought out the tater for 6.75min (finished tater in 4min, immediately chewed bully for rest of time). Bully for 20, 120.

Great session. Once he started chewing the bully stick he really got into it. I was extremely happy that even after the dried tater was all gone, he immediately grabbed the bully stick that I had also put down for that trial. yay!

Day 34: Worked for 23min with a bully stick and then the tricky treat ball. Started with the bully for 10sec, 30. Switched to pb rawhide chip for 20sec. Back the bully for 60, 30, 180, 20, 45, 6min-N (he ate for 5.25min and then I think the upstairs neighbors came home and the noise stopped him). Kibble (and a few treats) in the tricky treat ball for 60sec, 6min.

A good session. There was only one refusal to eat, but I'm not too worried about that trial. I'm pretty sure it was right as the upstairs neighbor came home and we can hear that pretty well from our place. He also was really into the tricky treat ball!

Day 35: Worked for 25min with a stuffed pigs ear (he's never had a "stuffed" one before). We did 15, 30, 20, 90, 20, 200, 45, 6.5min, 30, 7.25min.

Yay! Longest trial done was over 7min and Vito chewed his bone for the entire time. I was actually shocked that he ate the stuffed pig ear since he has refused to eat a pigs ear in a long time.

Week 5 Summary: We're not where I had hoped to be after 5 weeks, but I at least feel a ton better about this week than last week. The first part of the week still sucked, but then he did really well almost every day. I think that it helped using some things Vito's never had before (dried sweet potato, tricky treat ball, stuffed pigs ear) but I hope that he will still show interest in those objects next week. Longest trial done for the week was 7.25min.


Agility updates

Lance is still doing really well in agility. Basically he just makes me look good. We're doing a lot of sequences now, including some with obstacle discriminations, serpentines, pinwheels, and threadles. Lance seems to get everything perfect the first time we do it! He really is an amazing dog and is extremely responsive to my body language. We're not doing a ton of contacts in class, and when we are it's mainly the a-frame. Lance still flies over the contacts so we're still putting a jump after it for him. Right now I'm not worried about it, I just need to make time to work on Lance running a board at home at greater and greater heights. I've been neglecting this area of training for awhile. With the teeter Lance is doing pretty well. It's still his least confident obstacle, but in class (the few times we do it) he's doing a really low height one fairly fast. At home there is now a teeter in our backyard that Lance has been practicing on. Here I'm just standing at the end and slowly lowering it as he runs. He seems to be really enjoying it!

I'm also very happy that so far only a small number of dogs have been coming to class consistently. This has meant that Lance has been paired with a little dog who has some focus issues, and tends to run off, but overall can do the exercises. He's not having to wait forever for the dogs he was stuck with before who have some major confident and attention issues.

Vito is also doing great in agility. In this new session they restructured the class and basically bumped up 75% of the dog's in his original class to the next level. This has meant that the class got a ton easier, but is really what Vito needs. He's still a baby and NEEDS all this foundation work that we're doing now. Mainly we're working on one jump exercises, teaching the dog's to offer jumping, turn tightly afterwards, take it even when it's parrallel to the dog, etc. Today we also did the teeter (not quite at full height), which tuns out to be Vito's favorite obstacle of all time. We haven't done it in class for awhile, but Vito was insane. I decided to make him sit and wait to be released and this was extremely hard for him. When released he flew like a mad man to the end! At the end of class we did a very short sequence with the dogs: tire, tunnel, jump, teeter. The first time through Vito did it with great speed but was fine. The second time through as soon as Vito shot out of the tunnel he eyed the teeter and sprinted straight for it, leaving me and the jump in the dust. I started over and immediately called his name and gave him a treat next to me after coming out of the tunnel and then directed him to his jump and beloved teeter. What a naughty boy!



I finally got the dogs a tricky treat ball. I've been meaning to get one for awhile in hopes that I'll be able to use it on Vito's SA sessions. Well today I figured Vito should learn how to use it. I put 1/3 cup of his dog food in it and set it down. At first Vito kept wanting to retrieve it to me. He would pick it up and bring it to me, but I folded my arms and ignored him. Even when he stopped bringing to me, my little retriever still wanted to pick it up and carry it around the house. Then he tried whacking it with his foot, which he clearly liked but didn't give him that much kibble. Finally Vito settled on the proven strategy of rolling it around with his nose and only occasionally picking it up and pawing at it for fun.

I also gave Lance his dinner in it tonight. Lance was very very excited. He very quickly figured out how to get the treats, and then figured out that picking it up and putting it on the dog bed prevented it from flying all over the house. Unfortunately for Lance, when he nosed/pawed the ball it also went underneath the bed cushion and he had a difficult time trying to get it to roll. This did not seem to deter him from continually putting the tricky treat back onto the dog bed. I have never seen Lance so happy and determined.

And in other news I did some more retrieval work with Vito in the backyard. We attempted our first double with a thrower today. We've only worked with a thrower a couple times and so far our only doubles have been when I've thrown them. Vito failed twice, the first time picking up the 2nd dummy and then heading for the first (I called him back, he dropped the dummy, and we then did the 2nd throw), and the 2nd time heading straight for the 1st dummy. So I decided to try it one more time and then go back a step if he failed again, but Vito did it perfectly! He went for the 2nd dummy, returned to me, and then went out and brought back the 1st mark. I am working very hard though on having him sit and wait before taking off. I can tell this is extremely difficult for him to be patient!


Joining the Choir

Today Vito sang for his very first time! In daycare today 2 of his girl friends where barking at each other and when I went over to "yell" at them they suddenly burst into song. Quickly some of the other singers joined in and Vito just stared at the them intently. Usually the dogs only sing on Wednesdays when 2 mastiffs and their lab neighbor start up the group a couple times each morning. Vito has heard them sing before, but the main group was always on the other side of the fence. Today Vito was up close and could really observe :)

At first he just stared, but then he started moving his mouth but no sound came out. Soon Vito started barking, and at the end of a few barks a tiny little howl came out! I was so proud as I watched his head swing back and listened to his cute little puppy song.

Of course I soon had to thank all the choir members for participating and tell them that practice was over for the day.

I am very happy to finally have a singing dog. I love dogs who talk, and grumble a lot. I know it can be naughty, but I love it! Lance of course just ignores the commotion and waits until the rowdy kids quiet down so he can sleep in peace.

Oh, and I am happy to report that Vito's sudden love of the ferrets was not a fluke. While he is not playing with them a ton, he still shows a very marked interest in these cool little critters that are running around his house. He especially loves when they first wake up and get to come out of their cage to play!


Separation Anxiety Treatment Log Wk4

Here is Week 4 of our progress. Again, a time-N means he stopped eating the bone, but remained on the dog bed unless otherwise noted.

Day 22: Worked for 23min with the gigantic bully stick. We did 20sec, 40, 2x10. Then I offered him a chicken rawhide and he took it for a 60sec-N. I was ok with this, as he remained on his dog bed and was very calm, jut not touching the bone. Back to the bully for 15sec, 150, 40, 10, 5min, 60, 5, 40, 5min!

So this was great! We did two 5min departures today!!!

Day 23, session 1: Worked for 26min with a variety of bones. Started with a pigs ear (half eaten) for 10sec, 30. He chose a chicken rawhide for 15-N. Back to the ear for 60, 150-N (ate for 105sec, then remained on bed). Switched to a beef bone for 20, 30-N, 10. Brought back out the gigantic bully stick which we used for the rest of the time: 10, 90, 30, 150, (took a 3 min break for a phone call, still in kitchen, but no bone), 20, 75, 10, 5.5min.

Also great! We did a 5.5min departure today!!! I've discovered that Vito likes pigs ears that have already been started, maybe it's easier for him to chew. However, he still is really only working for bully sticks.

Day 23, session2: Worked for 23min with the gigantic bully stick. We did 30sec, 10, 90, 20, 180, 10, 45, 5.5min, 10, 30, 40, 5, 6.5min, 5.

Hurray! We did 6.5mins this session! Also he chewed the bone the ENTIRE time!

Day 24: Worked for 26min with mainly the gigantic bully stick. Started with the bully for 30sec, 15, 90. Switched to a pb flavored rawhide chip for 20sec. Back to bully for 5min-N (ate for 3min, then remained on dog bed for last 2min), 10-N, 10, 10, 30, 5, 60, 20, 40, 120. Back to pb chip for 10, 60-N (ate for most of it), 30-N. Back to bully for 150.

This was ok. He wasn't as into his bone, so longest trial was only 5min, but he only ate for 3min of that. After that trial the longest time I did was 2.5min.

Day 24, session 1.5: I didn't do a real 2nd session, but decided to put Vito in the kitchen with a bone while I stayed in the living room. I started out ok, Vito chewed on the pb flavored rawhide chip for about 5 min. Then we sat by the outside door, quietly, for another 15min. I ignored him, and finally decided to see if he had to go out. He pooped right away outside, and then as we came back in he went straight for his bone. I popped over the babygate into the living room and Vito chewed his bone for maybe 2 minutes. He was then by the outside door for 10 minutes before he suddenly jumped over the babygate into the living room. I upset, shouted "ah ah" and carried him back over, setting him back on the doggy bed. I leave, and 2 minutes later he is standing by the babygate. I look over and he is just shaking. Seriously shaking his entire body, pupils dilated, and panting. I step over into the kitchen and sit myself on his dog bed. I have to call him over to me where he curls up into my lap and just shakes. I try not to really do much but gently stroke him. I know that it's impossible to reinforce fear, but I still don't want to be over the top. It takes him about 15 minutes to stop panting like crazy, and another 5 minutes to get off my lap. I've been sitting in here with him for a total of 40 minutes now, and overall he's just been lying here next to me, ocassionally starting to pant, but mostly just sitting here. I'm ignoring him and just sit here. I know he's not fully calm. Just now, 40 minutes into it he grabbed his rawhide and is chewing it. My plan is to sit here another 5-10 mintutes and then leave together.

I just can't believe his reaction. It's not like the first time I've put him in the kitchen without me. He doesn't always chew his bone, but he's never reacted like this, at least not since he was an itty bitty puppy. It also shocks me that he didn't whine at all before jumping the gate. I guess he really has learned that I never let him out unless he's quiet. This is also the first time he has ever jumped over the baby gate, he's been big enough for awhile now, but I don't think the thought has ever occured to him. I just hope that this doesn't destroy everything that we have done so far.

Day 25: Worked for 26min with mainly a pb flavored rawhide chip. Started with the gigantic bully for 10sec-N, 10, 10, 20-N, 10-N, 5-N, 10-N, 4xO/I-N, 2xO/I, 3xO/I-N. Switched to pb flavored rawhide chip for 4xO/I, 4x5, 2xO/I, 5, 10, 3x5, 10, 5-N. Back to bully for 5, 10-N, 5, 5xO/I-N. Back to pb chip for 3x5, 10, 2x5, 2x10, 5, 15, 5, 2x10, 2x5, 20, 5, 20, 2x10, 30, 5, 15, 45, 10, 30,10, 60.

Unfortunately, I think yesterday really was a setback for us. It took him forever to start eating a bone. Even doing a whole bunch of out/ins he wouldn't eat. He never got off the dog bed, but I didn't give him enough time too. The longest time today was a 1min trial at the very end.

Day 26: Worked for 26min with mainly the gigantic bully stick. Started with the bully for 5sec-N, 2x5, 10, 5, 10, 20, 10. He chose the pb rawhide chip for 10, 5, 30, 15-N, 5. Back to the bully for 10, 30. He chose the pb chip again for 30-N. Chose the cowhoof for 10. Back to the bully for 5, 30, 10, 65, 20, 90, 30, 10, 120, 2x10, 45, 180, 5, 60.

We're getting there. I took it very slow so we wouldn't back slide again, but longest trial today was 3min. I feel by the end string Vito was doing really well, but was worried he would get bored if I kept going. I want to try to keep all sessions under 30min.

Day 27: Worked for 27min with mainly the gigantic bully stick. Started with the bully for 15sec, he chose the pb chip for 10-N, back to bully for 20sec, 5. He chose the pigs ear for 10, and then we stuck with the bully for the rest of the time. 30sec, 60, 30, 10, 150, 20, 60, 4min, 40, 10, 30, 5min, 60, 20, 120.

Almost back! I'm still trying to keep it somewhat slow to make sure, but longest trial today was 5min and there was only one trial in the beginning where he stopped eating.

Day 27, session2: Worked for 27min with the gigantic bully stick. We did 10sec, 30, 10, 60, 20, 45, 20, 150, 10, 40, 4.25min, 15, 60, 20, 5.5min-N (chewed for about 2min, then remained on dog bed for rest), 2x10-N, 5-N, 5 (pb rawhide), 5 (bully), 5-N, 2x5 (pb rawhide).

Ok. Longest successful trial was just over 4min. On the 5.5min trial there were a ton of noises outside and the upstairs neighbor came home, so I don't know if that contributed or not. Unfortunately I couldn't get him back into it once he stopped.

Day 28: Worked for 28min with the gigantic bully stick. We did 20sec-N, 2x5, 10, 5, 20, 10, 60, 15 ,10, 120, 30, 60, 220-N (ate for only 120sec), 10, 2x5, 20, 10, 60, 45, 105-N (ate for only 75sec), 6x5-N.

Longest successful trial was only 2min. After that he wouldn't go longer than 60.

So this week started out amazing! I was very quickly able to do 6.5min trials without a problem. However we soon had a major setback (day 24) where Vito was an absolute wreck from being left in the kitchen when we were home. I have no idea why he was so panic stricken that day since it is not the first time we have worked on him being separated from us, but still able to see and hear us. I am getting really frustrated as I expected it to taint the next few sessions, but Vito is still having issues 4 days later. He isn't whining or anything in the sessions, but it still really bugs me that he isn't eating his bones. I am really not sure if I am even doing things right.


Vito is such a weird dog.

And yes, if you click on the picture to see it full size, you will notice two little bumps on his face. I'm pretty sure it's puppy warts. Damn dog.


A new toy!

Vito has suddenly discovered the ferrets. We have had Vito for 5 months now and overall he has completely ignored the ferrets. If you had asked Vito he would have denied their existence. The most he has ever done to acknowledge their presence is to jump on the couch when he sees Opie coming. Opie is notorious for picking on Vito, following him around and biting his feet. But in general the ferrets and Vito have lived in two separate worlds....until today.

After coming home from work with me this evening, Vito was in a very playful mood. He played with Lance for a little bit but Lance really didn't want to play a whole lot so Vito moved on to his toys. Zoe walked by, and it was like a ray of light shown down as Vito stared at her intently. Suddenly he pounced and batted her with his paws! He even did some little playbows and zig zagged away, encouraging her to chase him around the living room. I think Zoe was stunned by Vito's new behavior as she didn't really play back, but just stood and let him bat her around. To make things even more shocking, a few minutes later he tried to play with Opie! Luckily for him, Opie was acting tired and ignored him.
We will see if he still loves his newly found toy tomorrow!

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