Monthly Archives: November 2008

Training update

Shocking, I know, but I actually have been training Pflouff. I’ve worked on some behaviors more than others — a few I haven’t even started, actually. I’m mostly emphasizing the behaviors that we’ll be doing in class.

So some updates:

Targeting with nose — Accomplished first goal. New goal: The dog touches the marked end of a touch stick with his nose with only one voice cue.

Targeting with paw — Haven’t started. (Need to get target!)

Recall — Believe it or not, I haven’t started this. Bad trainer! I told Jay that every time he takes a break today, we HAVE to do some puppy recalls. They are way too important to ignore.

Sit — I’ve done a little with this, but not much. Most of her sit training was done by Jenni. I use it mostly for polite greetings, before opening the crate, or before putting down the food bowl. I need to work on a formal sit and get it on verbal cue and hand signal, but I just haven’t done so. Sit has a tendency to get overworked and turn into a behavior-halting default behavior — annoying during training sessions — so I’m swinging to the other end of the spectrum and ignoring it.

Down — I’m working on this. I prefer to teach a foldback down from a stand initially. I don’t want to teach a down from a sit until Pflouff has good cue discrimination between sit and drop.

Walk at my side — The goal for this one is different from the method used in my puppy class. I’ve done more with the puppy class method since that’s what will be requested of her over the next few weeks.

Name recognition/Attention — Accomplished first goal. New goal: The dog finds partner’s face and holds eye contact for 10 seconds with no more than two voice cues. No body language or touching other than looking at the dog.

Retrieve — Accomplished first goal. New goal: The dog takes and holds two objects in his mouth (one at a time), one of them metal.

Grooming / Nail clipping / Husbandry and conformation stack — I worked on this one time and didn’t review my goal before doing so. I totally jumped ahead and rushed her, and we both ended up frustrated. So I’m starting this one over!

Crate training — I haven’t worked on this behavior formally. She sleeps in a crate, and she willingly walks in on her own, both at the beginning of the night and after pottying during the night. I need to test it during the day though. I think Jenni already trained it though.

Stay on a mat — This behavior is so much fun! We’ve done three sessions, I think, and she’ll run over to the mat and plop her little butt into a sit. So CUTE. I haven’t increased distance to five feet though, so the first goal hasn’t been accomplished yet.

Scent work — Haven’t started.

Zen — Just started this one yesterday, but it’s definitely coming along!

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Husband brag

I have to rave about what an incredible husband I have. I don’t do that nearly often enough, but he truly is the absolute best husband in the world.

You know what he did for me yesterday?

First, when Pflouff whined to go out yesterday morning, he offered to get up and take dogs out and feed them. (I declined that one, because feeding the beasties is a little tricky right now, because Pflouff is still learning the routine.)

After breakfast, I took Pflouff into the basement to train and entertain her. When I got there, know what I found? The CUTEST, SWEETEST card — absolutely apropos of nothing. It was absolutely perfect for us too.

Next… Jay and I were supposed to do some work in the barn, and my plan was to turn Pflouff out in the yard while we did that. Jay got up and went out to the barn without telling me. He got it almost all done before I even knew he was out there!

Then he did the laundry. And the dishes.

And THEN he took over puppy watching duties so I could have a couple hours of puppy-free sleep.

I am, without any exaggeration, the most blessed person in the world — for many reasons. But my wonderful husband tops the list. I don’t deserve someone as amazing as he is, but I’m grateful every day that I have him. I love him dearly.

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Colitis… I hope

Poor Pflouff got sick and spent the day at the vet yesterday. Monday evening, she wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about her dinner (at 4PM), but she ate tons of tuna brownies at class (at 6:30PM). She seemed all right when she came home, but she was whiny and restless ALL night Monday night. (I know this because she kept me awake!)

Tuesday morning, she wouldn’t touch her breakfast. All she wanted to do was lie down or cuddle — definitely not the puppy I’m used to. So off to the vet we went. She was so lethargic by the time the vet saw her that the vet was sincerely concerned and ordered bloodwork and x-rays, fearing a blockage.

The initial x-rays were inconclusive, but Pflouff was dry heaving and wouldn’t touch food or water. The vet gave her barium and kept her at the clinic all day so she could take x-rays throughout the day to see if the barium went all the way through. There was a spot on the x-ray that she was concerned about, but by Tuesday evening it had dissipated, and I was able to bring her home.

Pflouff had moments of energy last night, but overall was still somewhat lethargic — and she still wouldn’t eat or drink. (The vet had given her subcutaneous fluids to ensure she wasn’t dehydrated.) I moved her from the small crate to a big crate, and she walked in and crashed without a complaint. That sort of worried me, frankly!

In the middle of the night, she threw up.. but it was yellow bile, and I had a feeling it might be because she was hungry. I wasn’t allowed to feed her yet, but I gave her water, and she drank well. This morning I had an energetic, starving puppy on my hands! The vet prescribed that disgusting, easy-to-digest canned food for her, and she was so hungry, she ate every bite and came looking for more.

We have to go back to the vet this mroning for a final x-ray, but I’m pretty sure it will be clear. I know from experience with Pax that the symptoms of colitis can come and go for a while, so I don’t think she’s 100%, even though she’s acting totally normal right now. But I think she’s going to be fine very soon.

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Puppy class #1 — huge success!

I cannot rave about Ahimsa Dog Training enough. They are doing absolutely everything right. I am just so impressed.

First, they have an awesome setup for puppies. It’s a small space, which could be disastrous, but they’ve made really smart choices. First, they limit the number of puppies. Second, they strategically set up ex-pen panels to create individual areas for each puppy. Cloth curtains on the panels keep the puppies from fixating on their neighbors. There are two chairs in each area for the people and a tether spot to affix the leash. PERFECT for individual work.

The floor is basically stall mats, which means it’s cushy, non-slip, and easy to clean. The door area has a double gate, so you can move dogs in and out, even during playtime, without concern that another puppy will escape.

The class itself is active and fluid. They start with the name game or simple sits or touches. There’s a white board with the puppy behaviors listed: come, stay, sit/down/stand, leave it, tricks, walking on a loose leash, and problems. Each human student goes to the board and puts a mark next to the three things he or she would like to work on in class that night. Very cool!

Last night we did name recognition, touch, walking on a loose leash, polite greetings, and talked about problem chewing. We also had two or three different play times, and during those we would occasionally go in, grab our pup’s collar, say “Gotcha!”, feed a treat, and then release her to play again.

I had done so little with Miss Pflouff prior to that class, so I was really stressed about going. But she was a champ! (Thanks entirely to Jenni, I have no doubt.) We had done some name recognition, so she was great at that. She’s also good at touch. Her greetings are wonderfully polite. And she caught on to their loose leash walking exercise immediately. (She was the demo dog for that one.)

The only downside to this class is its location. It’s 45 minutes away… in good weather. Winter is fast approaching, and I’m dreading trying to cross the ridge to get there on a snowy night.

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Tick, tock… class is starting

Pflouff’s first puppy class is tonight — and I’m almost embarrassed to take her! I’ve done sooo little. Oh, a session of this and a session of that, but definitely not what I should have done prior to class. Since I call her Pflouff and Jay is persisting with TenTen, she doesn’t even know her name!

I’m looking forward to the class (though I wish I were completely anonymous). It’s a drop-in format, so the other puppies could have already attended other classes. That’s good in a way, because it makes it harder to compare your puppy to others. Less pressure.

Just the same, I have to get focused. This baby is food motivated and smart — and the clock is ticking! It will also be a lot easier around here when she learns basic English. (Com on, Jenni! We have to get cracking!)

Long ago I created some worksheets to help me organize and keep records on my training. I decided to use this one to plan what days I would work on what behaviors. (You might think this is laid out oddly, and it is, because this isn’t what I originally used it for.)

I wrote the behaviors in a list in the large fields on the left. On the slanted lines at the bottom, I put the day and date. I’m going to color in the square in the appropriate column when I work on a behavior that day. Originally I thought I would plan out a whole week ahead, but I decided not to do that. Instead, I’ll just keep an eye on the chart at large, so I can see how often I’m working on various behaviors.

For individual behaviors, I have this worksheet. It’s pretty straightforward. I just list the criteria I’m working on in a particular session and then record the number of reps/errors. I don’t keep records all the time, even though I find that my training is MUCH better when I do. However I want to work on a lot of different behaviors right now, and so I don’t know how I’ll keep up with them, if I don’t keep records.

Quick weekend update: Pflouff is doing fine. Jay played primary caretaker for a number of hours yesterday afternoon so I could take a nap. It was lovely to get some deep sleep. Pflouff is great at night, but I still have to sleep with one ear listening for her. That means not only is my sleep interrupted, but it’s not very deep or restful. So yesterday was a blessing.

Jay is home this entire week, so he’ll be able to help me manage Aslan (if he’s in a growly mood) when I need to move everyone around, and he’ll be able to entertain Miss Pflouff when I need to be on a work phone call.

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