Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Today was a fun day! At first I was going to go to Disney World, but I was very tired. So, I didn't go. What to do now? I know. Let's take Jack out into the backyard and have some fun!

First things first, you know. Get the potties done. Well, you will never guess what distracted Jack from the potties. Let me describe what happened next.

I placed the long line on Jack and let him go do his thing. He ran to the back fence and just stood completely still. He was staring at something and would not respond to my questions, "What is it, Jack?" "What do you see, Jack?" No response. Jack looked as still as a statue. Not so much as a tremor in his tail. Nothing. Hmmm....

What could be there that would hold his concentration so well? Was it another dog? No. Was it a bone in the neighbor's back yard? No. Was it a cat? No. Snake? No. Another person? Nope. What was it? I was very curious to see for myself what it was. I started walking towards Jack and then he began barking like he never, ever barked before! He had an excited, out of his mind bark!

Once I got to the place where I could see, I started laughing so hard! Jack had seen his first turtle! This turtle was about ten inches in length and was in the neighbor's back yard along the fence line. Just across the fence and Jack was going nuts!

So much for any training happening in the backyard today! Now, if I could have been able to pick that turtle up and place it on our side of the fence... Hmmm... That would have been something to watch. How would Jack have handled it? I am sure he would have gotten tired of not being able to get the turtle.

Oh well. Maybe next time. Until then...

Walking in Obedience

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Weave poles are a blast!

Wow! What can I say? Jack and I have started learning the weave poles for agility. Whether we compete or not, Jack enjoys the running, jumping, and climbing that goes with agility. We started training a while back in the back yard. I have built a couple of jumps and acquired a PVC-set of weave poles that comes apart in sections.

I have started him with just two poles. I set him up with the poles in front of him, one to the left and the other to his right. The hard part is letting him figure it out by himself. I don't talk to him or prompt him in any way. That is really hard! Finally, after about 15 minutes, Jack walked between the poles and I clicked and treated him for that! Yippee!! After he walked through the poles again and again, getting clicked and treated, he started running through them to get the click and treat! Wow!

Now we will try it again tomorrow and see if he remembers. This is fun!

Walking in Obedience!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grooming challenges

Today was the second day of grooming this week. Yesterday, Jack was partially groomed. I trimmed him down significantly from the hippie-style he portrayed. Yes, Jack almost resembled a sheepdog, with his long locks covering his eyes and face. I also trimmed the nails on his right-front paw. It was kind of a very s-s-slow process.

What does grooming have to do with training, you ask? Well, plenty! Allow me to explain.

When I first got Jack, he was 9-months-old. He is almost 5-years-old now. He has had issues with his feet all along. "You wanna touch my feet? Well, I don't think so! Let me show you my teeth!" So, our grooming sessions are kind of continual. Jack does not like the electric trimmer anywhere near his feet. He tolerates it everywhere else. So our "grooming dance" has become more fluid, less jerky as time has passed.

I thought that since Jack loves attention from me, I could work on teaching him to Shake Hands. I would use the clicker. I would get down to his level and touch the back of his leg with one hand while the other hand is in front of his paw. If he moved his paw, ever so slightly TOWARDS my hand, I would click and treat. I continued this for some time until now all I have to do is lower my hand to his front and he raises his paw and rests it in my hand.

That shake-hands trick is working well in regards to trimming his feet. So now when I trim him, I alternate with some cookies and pats. We work our way down to the feet, alternating the trimming with some nice pats and rubs. Now for the feet. After the past "fights" to trim his feet, I have discovered that he would rather I use the scissors on his feet. It doesn't look as good as I would like, but it passes. As for now, it still takes more than one day to trim his nails. But that is OK with me.

One of the most important things about the grooming process is after I am finished with the combing, brushing, trimming, and clipping. I am teaching Jack to lay down on the table on his side, with his head touching the table. This "Head Down" trick allows me to give him a massage. We do it the same way with his other side. After the massage and time to chill out and relax, I give Jack the freedom to run around the back yard, full tilt, without any encumberances. No leash, just the grass under his feet and wind in his face and the time for him to be a dog. I enjoy watching him have a total blast and when he has had enough, he comes to me and I snap on his leash and we go inside the house. Peace one moment in time.

Find us walking in obedience!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Exuberance Defined

It has been quite some time since I last wrote in this blog. Let's see. Since our last meeting here, Jack and I began working on some major issues. Mainly his penchant for zooming and his lack of attention on me. Well, it is a very slow and methodical lesson to learn, not only for Jack, but for me. Jack can only learn to give me his attention when I am paying attention to him. We need to interact more, not just when we are doing our homework. We need to play together too. Our bond must be made stronger for his attention to focus on me. That is a daily focus of our training.

So, what has been happening since July? Well, on Labor Day weekend, we participated in the Dog Obedience Clubs of Florida, DOCOF, state competition in Orlando. We had competed last year and had a lot more distractions and reactions to those distractions. It was hard to concentrate. I was nervous and that travelled down the leash to Jack. We were excused from the group exercises after Jack had some major zooming issue. I was totally embarrassed. But, that was wise of the judge as he didn't want Jack to interfere with other dog and handler teams.

However, this year we did a little better. Jack still zoomed the ring, but not nearly as bad as last year. However, his on-leash portion was significantly better than last year. We were allowed to perform the group exercises this year. Jack sat for the sit portion, but laid down with about 10 seconds left in the 1-minute sit. I could not get him to lay down for the 3-minute down.

We still had fun during that weekend. And it was a learning experience.

In October, the Orlando Dog Training Club had it's obedience and rally trials. I had entered Jack in Wildcard Open and Pre-Novice. On Saturday, we went into the Open ring and worked on the heeling portion (off-leash). Jack lagged a bit and then ignored me somewhat. We did not do the Figure-8 exercise and we were able to do the Retrieve-on-the-Flat, but lost it for the rest of the exercises. Our Pre-Novice fared better, though we came in last place due mainly to lots of handler errors (that's me). I didn't realize I was not allowed to encourage or give Jack any extra commands while performing the exercises. I will know better next time.

And on Sunday at the trial, I was upset with Jack not paying attention to me during our warm-ups that I scratched our entry. I felt that I would be more of a hindrance in the ring than Jack would be. My feelings would travel down the leash and it would not be pretty.

So, since then, I have been working the Ruff Love program by Susan Garrett. The purpose is to build up the relationship between Jack and me. It is taking a longer amount of time than I expected. But, I feel it is worth the commitment of my time and energy for our relationship.

Until next time, we are walking in obedience!