Monthly Archives: October 2012

Who’s the boss?

I’ve decided that I’m going to teach Spencer to go belly up when I say the word boss.  That way whenever someone tells me I need to show him who’s boss I can just say “Spen, who’s the boss?” and he’ll “submit” to me.  Maybe it’ll shut some of these dominance fanatics up.  I doubt it but I still think it’ll be funny to see their reaction.  Now I just need to teach him to roll onto his back on cue.

Started to work with him on closing doors recently.  I tried it ages ago but couldn’t get him to interact with the door at all.  This time I stood in the bedroom and pushed the door almost shut with him still in the dining room.  Of course that was completely unacceptable to him, I might have escaped using a secret trapdoor or something, and he immediately shoved the door open with his nose.  Click and treat.  Repeat several times.  Then we moved on to the door being open enough for him to see me and him touching it, then pushing it.  Then on me being on the same side of the door as him.  It really didn’t take long once I’d managed to actually get him interacting with the door.  We still need to build up to him shutting it properly but he’s definitely got the idea that he’s to move the door.

Oh, and I’m no longer worried that I’m confusing him with training sessions.  Whenever I’m teaching him something new he’ll be offering it and offering it and then suddenly he’ll stop offering it and try everything else he knows that’s been reinforced before.  Then when all those fail he goes back to whatever we’re working on.  Then a few minutes later the same thing will happen again.  I’ve asked about it on forums and been told I must be confusing him, that training sessions must be going on too long and stuff like that.  Anyway, I’ve been reading The Clicked Retriever and the author talks about something she calls the Training W which is exactly what Spencer (and Rupert before him) has been doing.  Apparently it’s quite common and means the dog is well on its way to really understanding what you’re asking for and you should just wait the dog out.  So that’s a bit of a relief.

Had a horrendous few days with Spen lately.  I dunno whether it’s the sort of darkest before dawn thing as in he’s behaving so badly just before he starts coming out of the teenage stage or what but it’s been annoying.  The other night he picked up a shoe so I ignored him as usual.  He came right up to me, dropped the shoe, stared at me, picked it up, dropped it, stared some more, picked it up, dropped it and spent about 10 minutes doing this.  I was ready to strangle him with the shoe laces by the time he finally gave up!  Loose leash walking has been horrendous.  Recall has gone again, he’s jumping up again and has just generally been not particularly nice to take out or do anything with.  On his walks yesterday though he wanted to interact with me.  Either playing tug or chase or practising his obedience so hopefully whatever it was he’s now snapped out of it, it’s the first time in about 10 days that he’s wanted to engage with me outside.  Fingers crossed!

Hubby has also not been well.  Last Monday night, well Tuesday morning about 4am, he woke up with one side of his face about 10 times the size of the other.  Went to the doctors where they sent him for an emergency dentists appointment.  Abscess under a wisdom tooth so they gave him antibiotics.  Friday he went back only to be sent to hospital to have the wisdom tooth taken out.  Course he had to take transport there and back in case they needed to knock him out to do it.  Poor bugger had the tooth out at around half 2, got home at half 7.  He’d been given no painkillers or anything so of course was in agony.  He now shares my feelings on using the medical transport in the future again.  The words “never again” have come from both of our mouths after our experiences with it.

Oh, and I finally managed to get a picture of Spencer where the camera doesn’t add about 10lbs!  

Also shows his crooked tail but since there’s nothing I can do about his tail I’m not too bothered about that lol.  And forgive the rather ragged looking giant tennis ball, it was Ruperts so it’s all chewed up but Spen is rarely seen without it in the house.  Where he goes it goes.

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A rather eventful 24 hours

Around 4pm on Monday I got a phone call from my husband telling me to grab Spencer and meet him by the Naafi.  So I did.  Turns out we’re being evacuated due to a chemical leak at a nearby factory, a toxic gas cloud and risk of explosion.  Fun times.

Spencer and I spent roughly 6 hours standing around outside the cook house where everyone was gathered while hubby alternated between standing with us and trying to find out what was going on.  Wasn’t a lot of fun for me or hubby but Spencer was in his element.  He got to play with some other dogs and then with some children and there were lots of adults who also said hello to him too. Course I had no food for him so I went begging to the chefs for any left overs. Spen ate better than we did, 3 sausages, some Pringles and part of a sandwich. Not ideal but in an emergency you take what you can get and it was enough to stop him throwing up bile like he does when he goes too long without food.

Eventually got put up in the officers mess which was basically like a big hotel room but without the tv, kettle, hair dryer and little shampoo and soap things. Double bed, 1 pillow. I’m not sure whether I was slightly hysterical at this point but for some reason I found that extremely funny. So that night I had a musty smelling blanket for a pillow and Spencer had my coat as a bed.

Gotta say, the army did a great job of getting everyone somewhere to stay for the night and in getting everybody fed, getting supplies of baby milk, nappies etc for those who need them and all that.

And Spencer…can’t fault him. His loose leash walking went out the window but he behaved brilliantly in every other way. He quite happily spent 6 hours just standing around outside with an occasional walk up and down the road. He asked politely for attention by sitting in front of people. He kept a bunch of kids entertained with the fact he’d bump their hand with his nose and give paw in return for bits of biscuit. And when he did jump up at someone and they told him “down” he immediately dropped to his belly lol. Once in our room he was clearly a bit anxious and stuck to me like glue but once we got into bed he soon settled down on my coat. He did keep checking I was there through the night though.

The whole thing just drove home how far he’s actually come with his training.  I keep complaining about things he does or things he doesn’t do, how his loose leash walking isn’t good enough, how he’s so excitable and all that yet when it comes down to it he’s a lot better behaved than I give him credit for.  He was an absolute star the whole 24 hours.  He even happily shared his toys, water bowl and humans with our neighbours dog for several hours as they had nowhere to go with him.

Here they are playing together.  Both of them were tired by this point but neither would admit it and as soon as we got one to settle down the other would bounce back up and start all over again.

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It’s been a while

Been a while since I last posted here.  Don’t really seem to have much to say a lot of the time and now the weather’s getting bad I don’t even have many new photos to fill the space.  Torrential rain isn’t very good for the camera and we’ve had a fair bit of that lately.  And of course World of Warcraft had a new expansion out which has left little time for blogging lol.

Had a bit of an issue with recall a few weeks ago.  Not sure what happened but Spen decided he didn’t really have to come when called if he didn’t feel like it.  So it’s been back to the long line and upping the rewards when he does come back.  I’ve been taking part of his meals out with us.  You don’t half get some funny looks spoon feeding your dog disgusting looking stuff out of a plastic tub but in all honesty I don’t care.  He’s far more interested in the raw than in anything else I’ve found so I’ll use it.

He’s graduated to being back off leash as long as there are no other dogs around and has behaved wonderfully, both in the fairly boring area outside the flat and up on the fields where there are deer, sticks, tree trunks, water filled ditches and other wonderful things.  Apparently the rain sends him silly but even then he’s not disobedient, he just has a tendency to grab leaves or twigs or mouthfuls of grass and run laps around me.  Or gets the zoomies and attempts to break the land speed record (I don’t think anyone told him he’s a Labrador and unlikely to succeed).

So obviously we’ve still been working on recall.  I’ve also been working on him walking next to me with eye contact.  Not constant eye contact so he’s walking next to me with his head twisted around my leg to stare up at me but the occasional glance up.  Don’t want him doing it all the time on walks but there are times I think it could be handy.  Calvin has actually decided to work on something with him too!  A bit of self control.  When he plays fetch with him Spencer gives him the ball and immediately takes off at a sprint in the direction he thinks it will be thrown.  So Calvin’s decided he’s going to get him to wait until he’s at least thrown the ball.  It’s going well so far.  It was something I was going to work on (in all areas, not just with the ball) but for now I’ll leave it to him.

I’ve been working on teaching Spen to look left on command.  No particular reason for it, just a random and fairly pointless trick to teach just for the sake of it.  So far so good.  I even got a video although you’ll have to excuse the pretty rubbish timing of my clicks, apparently holding a camera means my timing goes out the window.  Just starting to put the cue to it now, using the German for left so as not to confuse us both if I try teaching him to go left on command.  Hope the link works, can never remember how to do it on here.

The look left has all been shaped, starting off by clicking and treating even the tiniest of head movements to the left and working up to a proper turn of the head.  It’s taken 3 days to get to where we are now but I’m sure a more competent trainer could get there faster than we have.  We’ll need a new trick to work on very soon so I best get thinking of what to teach next.

We managed to find half pigs heads in Kaufland a couple of weeks ago.  So of course we had to get one to try him with.  The squeamish may want to look away now lol.  I’ve left the pics until the end so you’re not missing anything.  Spencer seemed to really enjoy it.  Took him a while to get through it.  They’ve not had them in since but he’s got a salmon head for dinner tonight.

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