Gracie 11 month Video

Gracie needed a new video for her sponsors!

Things are going well.  She's calm yet spunky and absolutely obnoxious with the other dogs.  Her favorite activity is muzzle punching Vito when he's having one of those days and getting him all wound up.  Vito will actually "play" with her then in a really awkward loud and angry type of way.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody!


Finding a New Veterinarian

With the move coming up in less than a month, one of the first things I did was look for a new veterinarian.  While we're not moving too far from where we currently live, our amazing vet is already a long drive and the move would put it even further and make it completely impossible in any traffic.

My criteria for a vet is high.  I am one of THOSE parents.  But hopefully not an obnoxious know it all?

Must haves:
- Good with anxious dogs.  Meaning no fast movements, no exam tables, and tons of patience and cookies.
- Comfortable with never separating me from my dog.  I am aware that some dogs do much better away from their well meaning parents, but not mine.  No back room stuff for Vito.
- Comfortable with me restraining my pets.  I do know techniques for holding animals securely and the ability to hold my pets for procedures helps calm them immensenly.   Because of liability issues, I am ok if they require muzzling in order for me to hold.
- Similar viewpoints on nutrition, spay/neuters, vaccination schedules, weights, and chiropractic care.  Or at least support in the decisions I make for my dogs and not constant arguing.
- And of course having good medical knowledge and being a respected doctor.  But that is really hard for me to evaluate, not being a doctor and all.

We got a referal to a vet clinic in the area so I promptly made a call and scheduled an appointment to talk to the doctor and bring in Vito, the ultimate test dog.  Drugged him up a bit extra for the morning appointment, but unfortunately Vito was having one of those mornings.  The car was out to eat him so by the time we arrived he was in complete panic mode.  At least it allowed me to get a good eval of the the clinic!  I was very happy with the vet so hopefully it will be a good choice for us.  Fingers crossed we won't have to find out any time soon.


Bubba Certification

Bubba and his new mom have finished their training and are now an official working team!  Since that early morning alert the first night, Bubba has continued to alert his mom to her low blood sugar.  He has even alerted her a few times while playing at the dog park!  In the 7 weeks since he moved in, Bubba has only missed one low.  Awesome Schipperke!

She loves his crazy antics and how he makes her laugh every day.

This means that Bubba will join our spring graduation day in May 2014.  I'll get to reunite with the little bear then.
Flack back to 1 year ago!


A yard!

Soon this yard will be ours.

Yes, we are buying our first house!  I am so excited to actually have a space to train the dogs!
The house is super tiny, but 2.7 acres!
Lots of gopher holes from being unoccupied all year.  But I'm sure Vito will be happy to assist in gopher re-homing plans.  Any tips?


Loving Obedience Work

30 seconds!  That is how long it took Vito to choose to engage with me upon getting to the edge of the park.  I had no food on me, no toys, and after 30 short seconds of Vito staring out into the parking lot he made the choice to come through my legs for butt scratches and begin work.  I did decide to quickly end our start when Vito had some glances away while I tried to take the leash off, but he yelled at me for that choice and then remembered the rule on our immediate attempt #2.  I love when he sasses at me.

Today I did 2 sessions and focused on 3 lessons.  The first part of each session was evaluating how quickly Vito chose to engage with no rewards on me.  As mentioned above, that was pure awesomeness!  But, the work itself needs some more confidence.  Vito was doing a ton of bouncing and forging.  While I am extremely happy he's doing that and I now feel he is ready for me to start working on precision.  I did quite a bit of slow time and left pivots.  It's remarkable the huge difference in handling I've been able to begin.  Way less work output for me!  I am also assuming that even without me doing any work on precision in our heeling that the bouncing and forging will start to go away on its own.  Right now I feel it's part of a over excited and frustrated response and as he settles into being more comfortable working in new places it should go away.

After a few minutes and he got a ball reward, I then worked on leaving the ball on the ground.  The amount of focus this required for Vito actually improved his heeling tremendously.  Keeping eye contact with me when we got close to the ball was a bit hard, and staying engaged with me when I tried to play with him without releasing him to the ball was harder.  But heeling progress was very nice :)

The third part I wanted to work on was Vito heeling with the ball in his mouth.  I haven't done much with this before and it was an idea Denise Fenzi recommends on her blog and classes.  The idea is to 1) increase the challenge of heeling and 2) to insert the handler more into the reward package.  The dog having the toy is fun, but it's even more fun when you're involved.  Of course that's way easier to do with a tug toy as you can just reach down and tug every now and then, but I'm making it work with a ball.

Training obedience with Vito is really becoming fun again.  It's not that it wasn't fun before, but it was requiring so much more thinking and planning on my part.  Progress is continuing in leaps and bounds from even a month ago!


Gracie 11 months

Gracie is 11 months old now.  Still on restriction from her recent spay and pissed about it.  She's been letting me know by casually pushing aside the gate setup at work and just standing in the middle of the room.  Not going anywhere, but not so subtlety advertising her displeasure at not being allowed to play with the other dogs.

Occasional training worked on:
1. Light switches- Starting full height, just going back to working on flipping them ON.  Because of her little size she has to get awfully close to the wall.

2. Tug AND hold- Has had just a few lessons on keeping a grip on a tug rope in order to prevent a door from closing.  Gracie's doing a great job of not letting go of the rope, but is adamant that I must also want continued violent tugs on it as well.  The door is not amused.

3. Bucking bronco- needs work, but has been put on hold until she's fully recovered.

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Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.- Roger Caras

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