Posts Tagged With: obedience

A month of classes

We’ve been going to class for around a month now so time for an update I think.  Spen has been improving slowly.  Not so that anyone would really notice for the most part but I’ve seen the tiny steps in the right direction that keep me going back and working with him.  His recall when I’m with people has been awful for a while.  I think I’ve somehow taught him that he doesn’t need to pay attention to me when others are there so he just goes off and does his own thing.  He doesn’t run off, he keeps an eye on me and won’t go too far, he just doesn’t tend to come to me when called so I have to go and get him.

Today he came when called.  Not instantly, it wasn’t as easy as call him and have him turn and come sprinting back to me, I had to actually work to get his attention and then work to keep him coming to me once he did start to come back.  But a huge improvement.  He has decided that it’s now warm enough to go swimming at every opportunity but I don’t mind that, it’s not like he runs off to go swimming, the walk is along the river in places and he’s happy enough to have a splash around and come out.

He also ignored several other dogs today.  Not class ones, he ignores them completely for the most part anyway, one was a staffie who came looking for treats, we carried on training while it pestered other owners, then there was a collie who came up and sniffed his bum, he looked round and went back to the important business of reading his pee mail.  And then there was a Cav who we walked past on lead without a second glance.  He’s been a lot better with that in general lately.  I guess perhaps dogs aren’t such a novelty now so it’s much easier to just walk past them without greeting them.  He’s usually still keen to meet and greet if the other dog approaches but it’s so nice to be able to pass without any real issues.

Things aren’t going so well with the head collar though.  He’s no objection to it being put on, no objection to doing static work in it.  And half the time no objection to walking in it.  However, when he wants to sniff and is thwarted by it it’s a completely different matter.  Tantrum isn’t even in it.  And he is so adept at removing it very, very quickly that it’s becoming a major point of frustration for me which upsets him and makes him even more likely to object to it.  We’re going to switch to a front attaching harness instead in the hopes that will give me the control I need at the moment without the objections from him.

And some recent pics of him.  Coz how can I have a post about Spendog without photos?

I was sorting through some boxes and stopped for something to eat.  Went back to the bedroom to carry on and this had happened.  Apparently he must fit on the bed no matter how he has to curl up to do so.

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Sock monkey.  This was a present from his secret santa and we can’t go anywhere without it at the moment.

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Out on walks.

 

 

 

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And in my parents garden.

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Back in the UK

Well it’s been a long time since I posted anything here, time to pick it back up again I think!  We’ve had a few changes around here in the last few months.  We found out at the end of October that my husband was going to be medically discharged from the army.  End of November we were offered a flat in the UK to take over at the beginning of December.  Talk about rush much??  We also found out on the same day we were offered the flat that I’m pregnant.  So…things got a bit hectic lol.  I flew back to Manchester at the beginning of December leaving Spendog with Calvin in Germany.  They drove back together after he sorted the German end of things out.  We moved into our flat on the 23rd December.  Don’t ever move that close to Christmas, getting anything sorted out is a nightmare.

Calvin and Spen stopped off at his parents for a few days before travelling up to Manchester.  Spencer made himself right at home with Calvins family despite having never been there before and having never met any of them before.  The kids apparently loved him and he seemed to have fun playing with them and cuddling up.  Then they came here and we had Christmas with my family.  Spen did brilliantly.  Me and my brother took him for a good run before Christmas dinner so that he’d be tired and happy to settle.  Used to walk on this field with Shadow and Wolf pretty much daily.

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Then crackers were pulled which fascinated Spen and he kept stealing them.  Tried to get a picture of him carrying one but the best I could do was one that looked like it was levitating in his face.

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Moving in to our new home was fun.  Lots to investigate.

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And of course he had to help tidy up.

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We’re fairly settled now though.  Spencer also started classes 2 weeks ago.  At the godawful hour of 9:30 on a Sunday morning.  It’s an outdoor class which is the sort I thought would benefit Spen more as he’s so well behaved at home and when it’s just me and him out and about but his behaviour falls apart a bit when we’re with anyone.  So this class seems perfect.  We go for a walk, we do some training, the dogs get some off leash time, we work on real life skills rather than just obedience skills.  So far I feel like we’ve only turned up to make everyone else look good lol.  But it’s early days yet, I’m sure we’ll get better.  And Spen is really good in the pub we call in at on the way home for a hot drink after class.

We’ve got some lovely walks around here although they’re quite busy with other dog walkers.  We’ve gone from seeing perhaps one or two dogs a week to seeing loads every time we go for a walk.  Which doesn’t do much for my anxiety about strange dogs.  But it’s done a lot for Spens ability to pass other dogs without a huge fuss.  We passed a Yorkie on a narrow pavement this afternoon with only a little whining and no real pulling to get to it.  At one point that would have been impossible without me pinning him up against the wall to let them pass.

Anyway, here’s some pictures from a couple of our local walks.

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And this is where we go to class.  This isn’t at class, we just went for a walk that way since its only 10 minutes up the road.

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So yeah, that’s us back home 🙂  Well done if you actually made it this far!  Will try to post more regularly now things have settled down a bit.

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Fairy dust and waving treats around

Something I seem to be seeing and hearing a lot of lately is the assumption that those of us who use positive reinforcement/force free/whatever you want to call them methods simply wave treats or toys in our dogs face no matter what they do.  Want the dog to recall from chasing that deer?  Wave a toy at him and all is sorted!  Dog is about to run into the road?  Offer him a piece of cheese and disaster averted.  I’m sure anyone who uses non aversive methods to train has seen or heard these sort of examples before, usually given as a reason for why “purely positive” can’t or won’t work or isn’t practical.  And I’m sure that like me you’ve often rolled your eyes, heaved a sigh and tried to explain that there’s a hell of a lot more to it than simply waving treats and toys around.  I thought I’d address some of the common misconceptions I hear about the methods I use.  An actual post about dog training rather than life with Spen, who’d have thunk it!

Firstly, no, I do not reward my dog for doing things I don’t want by giving him treats or playing a game with him.  That wouldn’t make any sense would it?  Nor do I simply ignore all unwanted behaviour.  Some behaviours do get ignored and die out because there is no reward from them.  Self rewarding behaviours I try to pre-empt and ask for an alternative behaviour instead.  So instead of letting Spen jump up when someone approaches and then punishing that I ask him to sit BEFORE he jumps up and then the sit is rewarded.  If I allowed him to get to the jumping up before asking for and rewarding the sit there’s a good chance he’d learn the chain of jump up, sit, get rewarded.  And no, if my dog were about to hurl himself under a car I wouldn’t wave a treat at him and hope for the best, I’d grab him however possible.  An emergency like that is not a training situation, let’s be sensible about things.

Secondly, no, I do not need to have treats on me for my dog to do as I ask.  If I’ve forgotten them or have run out then he’s not suddenly going to stop listening to me.  For one, I don’t only use food to reward Spencer.  There are a hell of a lot of things out there that can be used as a reward and food is only one of them.  Let’s look at what Spen finds rewarding while out and about just off the top of my head and in no particular order.

  • food
  • tug
  • fetch
  • a game of chase
  • sniffing
  • saying hello to person or dog (with their okay of course)
  • me being silly and engaging him

So looking at that list (which I’m sure I could expand upon if I really thought about it) there is always something available for me to use as a reward.  Which leads on to the whole “I don’t want to have to keep rewarding my dog” thing people seem to have going on.  I don’t understand this attitude, I really don’t.  Why do you not want to keep rewarding your dog for doing things for you?  Why do you think he should keep doing them just because you ask him to?  Would you keep on doing everything someone said just because they told you to?  I wouldn’t.  I’d start asking why.  Especially for more difficult or time consuming things.  Why should dogs not be paid for what they do?

Thirdly, the whole “positive is not permissive” saying is true.  My dog is not allowed to simply do as he pleases.  There are rules and boundaries and these are enforced.  Just not in ways that cause him pain or fear.  And again, let’s not be silly and mistake an emergency situation such as running out into the road (this is almost always the one brought up) for a training situation.  But then I suppose it depends on what you consider “permissive” really.   Spencer can still have a tendency to bark at other dogs in frustration if he can’t meet.  We’re working on self control and he is so, so much better than he was but there’s the occasional lapse.  I know some would punish him for it while I don’t as I don’t feel it would really help in the long run.  If I think he’s likely to react out of frustration I’ll either move him on or try to distract him with treats or working with me before he starts barking.  Nor was Rupert punished for his fearful reaction to other dogs as again, I don’t feel it would have helped.  So in that respect perhaps I could be seen as permissive by some.

Fourthly (I’m not even sure that’s a word but oh well), dogs do not need to be punished for getting it wrong to be reliable with the right behaviour.  Or at least not yelled at or physically punished anyway.  Some say that not getting a treat is punishment but if I start looking too in depth at it all I end up with a headache and feeling utterly baffled lol.  It’s the idea that dogs must be set up to get it wrong and then punished for getting it wrong for the behaviour to be reliable I disagree with.  Yes, my dog makes mistakes and those mistakes are not reinforced (hopefully!) but deliberately setting him up to fail so I can punish him does not sit right with me at all.  I much prefer to teach him what I do want him to do and give him reasons to do it than to have to make him not want to do the things I don’t like.

Now don’t get me wrong, Spencer is no angel, far from it in fact.  But I have a reasonably well mannered dog who I can enjoy taking out and about and who is mostly a pleasure to live with.  Nor am I a saint.  There have been occasions where I’ve reverted to the typical primate behaviours of jerking things around and yelling when I’m frustrated or angry.  But for the most part I train using methods that do not cause my dog any pain or fear.   No, I do not as a rule yell at my dog or hit him or yank on his neck or jab him or “show him who’s boss” or anything like that.  But at the same time it’s really not a matter of waving a magic wand, farting out some fairy dust and sparkles and suddenly it’s all rainbows and butterflies.  I’m getting a little tired of being accused of using “namby pamby” or “airy fairy” methods and ridiculed for them to be honest.  I’ve put in a lot of hard work with my dog to get to where we are now and to get there with him happy and confident rather than worried and shut down.  No, he’s not perfect but who is?

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Of snow, nail clippings and cuddles

Still very little of interest to report here really.  We’re off back to the UK for a visit next month so my beloved Spendog is going to go in kennels.  How am I supposed to survive 12 days with no dog??  The kennels we’ve used here are lovely though.  Nothing special, just the run and bed but the lady who runs them is fantastic so I’ve no real concerns leaving Spen there.  Well, none except for the fact I’m leaving him anyway lol.

Spencer has discovered the joys of the sofa in the last few weeks.  Here’s a very rare pic of me (I HATE pics of me, I’m a big fat blob at the moment!) with him cuddled up.  He doesn’t look too comfy, he’d much rather be sprawled across me than lying next to me.   Excuse the make shift computer desk made of boxes lol.

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When he can’t be cuddled up next to me or across me he lies at the other end of the sofa.  We’ve had to buy him his own fleece blanket because he’s been so intent on stealing mine to sleep on.

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We’ve had snow here recently.  Up to now the winter has been really, really mild but last week saw snow and temperatures of around -13.  It’s warmed back up a bit now and today was a positively tropical zero apparently.  It started out as a light dusting that made it look like everything had been sprinkled with icing sugar.

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But then we got more of it.  Just in time for the husky meet.  Or the Spencer, Demon and Willow Show as it seems to be now.  We left a load of blood soaked snow behind this week, that’ll fuel the rumours of fights and mega serious injuries that seem to have sprung up about the meet.   I don’t know when these fights and injuries have been happening, I must be hiding under a rock while there because I’ve seen none. There wasn’t a fight or a serious injury this time either, Demon simply broke the end of his dew claw off and of course it bled massively.

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Sadly Spendog has had to be kept on leash a hell of a lot in the snow because his nose goes into overdrive and his ears stop working.  I’m not sure exactly what the snow does to scents but it seems they’re more interesting in the snow and Spen gets a little carried away following them.  If he notices me calling him he’s happy to return to me but getting his attention is a work of art when it’s snowed.  So he’s been stuck on a Flexi except for the husky meet.  And todays walk was more like bambi on ice than a walk.  For both of us.  Slipping and sliding everywhere!  I think we may have to stick to street walks for a bit until it either snows again or it all melts.

Leash walking is coming on well on the way home from our walks though.  He’s anticipating it now and at my side without me saying a word or luring him.  He still wants to go off and sniff so he gets rewarded for a brief stretch of walking nicely by being told to go be a dog.  Then brought back in for more work.  I wish I could get a pic of him walking to heel looking all attentive and happy but all I get is a blur of leg and dog.  Still a work in progress on the way out a he’s so excited to be going out but the actual pulling seems to be a lot less most days.

We’ve practised recall in the snow despite the cloth ears.  Of course he had to do his village idiot impression didn’t he?

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And we’ve started work on nail clipping again.  Spens nails are horrendously long and always have been.  The problem is that the quick is almost as long as the nail so I can only take a very tiny bit off without making them bleed.  Apparently if I do it regularly enough the quick will shrink though and I can get the nails shorter. So today we bought some better clippers coz I struggle terribly with the ones we have and I’m going to attempt to get them shorter.  They’re not curling under his foot long or anything but they’re longer than they should be.  Anyway, sat there on the sofa with his dinner in its bowl next to me tonight.  Clipped a nail, gave him a piece of food.  Clipped another nail, another piece of food.  He offered me his paw so I could clip another lol.  Unfortunately he only offers the left paw and I had to insist on the other one being given so I could do those nails.  But he was more than willing to have his nails cut.  I just have to get over my fear of doing them now.

And I shall leave you with this photo I took.  It’s so very rare to get a nice photo of Spen just standing, he’s usually got his nose to the ground, tail in the air and off after a scent.  Or if he is standing still he’s sniffing.  But I really like this one.

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Belated happy new year

Well I’ve been slacking here again haven’t I?  I guess I should have made a new years resolution to update my blog more regularly.  But anyway, Happy New Year to everyone!  Hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year.  I managed to hurt my back some time between the two so spent the start of the year hobbling around and trying to entertain Spendog as I couldn’t walk him. Then just as my back was getting better and I was able to walk again I pulled it again!  Not the best start to the year lol.  But all’s well now.

One new years resolution I did make was to spend some time each day working on Spencers loose leash walking.  I’ve sort of let it slip after the disastrous attempt to really focus on it a few months ago that ended up with me stressed and annoyed and hating walks and him plodding along looking miserable.  So I said I’d spend around 10 minutes a day working  on it.  It’s not a huge stretch of time but I can do 10 minutes without getting angry or upset and he can easily focus for 10 minutes at a time so it seemed ideal.  Truth is, I’ve probably not even been doing 10 minutes a day on it.  I chose to walk on it on the way home from our walk each day.  It seems the best time to start off as he’s not excited about going out, he’s had a good run around to burn off excess energy and is generally in a pretty good frame of mind to do something that’s quite frankly not very exciting lol.  And I don’t think it usually takes us 10 minutes to get home from the field.

So, we’re two weeks in to our loose leash walking work now (first week of the year I did nothing due to the back injury) and I have to say we’ve made more progress in the last 2 weeks than we have in the last 2 years.  I think because I’m not stressing about it and because I’m being more clear about my expectations.  Not just aiming for not pulling but for him to actually be walking by my side for the short session.   Two weeks ago I started out using shameless bribery, waving a treat under his nose and luring him to take a step or two by my side with it before feeding and releasing him to go sniff.  Today we walked all the way home with him more or less by my side (not aiming for perfect heel work) with no bribe.  And when released to sniff he mostly decided he’d rather walk with me instead.  On the two occasions he did go sniff they were only brief sniffs before he returned to my side of his own accord.  The last few days we’ve even managed some very short stretches of it on the field itself.  It’s very difficult for him there as he so wants to be off sniffing but even a couple of steps is brilliant progress.

And he did absolutely wonderful one night last week.  I’d taken him out at that ridiculous time when it’s not quite light but not quite dark when I don’t really like walking for some reason.  Day time walks are fine, night time walks are fine, those murky half light times are not.  I don’t know why, just don’t like them.  Anyway, since there was nobody around I had him off leash and he’s way, way up ahead doing his sniffy stuff and I’m pottering along keeping one eye on him and trying not to fall flat on my face in the mud when suddenly a load of deer burst out of the trees and run across the path right in front of him.  He stopped and stood there watching them for a moment.  Then when I made a noise (didn’t dare try a recall coz I didn’t expect him to do it) he turned and came to me for a treat.  He got half the treat bag while I clipped his leash on and rambled on at him about how good he was for not chasing the deer.  Glad nobody was around to hear me really lol.

Other than that I have nothing really to report lol.  We’re just doing the same old things really.  He has discovered the sofa though and that he likes to sleep on it.

And now for pictures.  We’ve had a really mild winter so far, fair bit of rain but only one lot of snow and that didn’t last long.  As a result most of our walks look something like this.

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However, it appears my dog may be teflon coated as he ends most of them looking like this

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He does like to splash around in the puddles and the mud so god knows how he ends the walk so clean.

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Couple of recall pics

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And this is his “I know you’re going out so gimme my damn Kong and get gone!” look.

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No bad dogs, only bad owners

If there is one phrase guaranteed to make me see red it’s the “no bad dogs, only bad owners” one.  Or anything that basically says that all a dogs problems are down to how it’s raised and if you’ve got an aggressive dog then it’s all your fault and you’re a terrible owner.  I hate it.  Absolutely hate it.  Just seeing it written down makes me angry.  Irrationally angry really.  For one, it simply is not true.  For another I can’t describe how it feels to have a dog with issues, to be working on those issues and managing the dog so both the dog and anyone around it is kept safe, only to have some sanctimonious little know it all (not my first choice of words but since my mum reads my blog I’ll keep it clean lol) smugly turn around and basically say it’s all your fault.  Do people have any idea how hurtful that comment is?  Any idea how close I came to showing them just how awful a person I was by giving in to the rage that rose up when those words spewed from their mouth?  Do they not realise how very unfair it is to be blamed for the issues your dog has when those issues have been caused by other people being unable or unwilling to control their own rude or aggressive dogs?  Or children.  Or themselves.  Whichever fits.  Dogs were the issue for Rupert so that’s what I tend to talk about.  Seriously, it is NOT always the owners fault that a dog is aggressive or fearful or doesn’t have good manners.

Let’s look at some of the things that can contribute to creating a dog who reacts badly to certain things shall we?

First, breeding.  There are dogs being bred who quite simply shouldn’t be bred.  Health reasons aside it is thought that traits such as anxiety and fearfulness may have a genetic component.  People simply throwing two dogs together to get puppies to sell to make money aren’t thinking of temperament.  Or health for that matter.  Sure, you can say it’s the owners fault for not going to a good breeder.  But what if the dog is a rescue?  Their own fault for choosing to rescue?

Incorrect socialisation.  Socialisation is a case of quality over quantity in some respects.  People seem to think that simply exposing a dog to things is socialising it.  It isn’t.  Having good experiences with those things is important.  Not going to try to go into the ins and outs of it here, there’s plenty of stuff out there on the internet about socialisation but here’s an article I like http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3953

Bad experiences.  In some cases all it takes is one bad experience to cause long lasting issues that require a lot of work.  Some dogs simply do not bounce back well from them even as adults.  Spencer will shake off an unpleasant incident with another dog, Rupert could not, it took him a good few days to calm back down and in that time he’d be far more on edge than normal.  Spencer seems able to go “yeah, yeah, whatever” at another dog raging at him from a few metres away, Rupert couldn’t.  And again, where Spen is over it almost before it’s happened, Rupert took ages to get over it.  It ruined the rest of his walk if not his entire day.  And bad experiences don’t have to involve aggression.  A young puppy being bounced all over by an over enthusiastic adolescent or mobbed by a group of people all wanting to fuss it at once is probably not having a good experience.  Nor does it need to “man up and deal with it” as many seem to believe.

Punishing the behaviour.  I think it’s perfectly natural for us to go “whoa, no, that is not acceptable behaviour!” and punish a dog whenever it shows aggression.  But doing so does nothing to change the dogs feelings towards whatever it is reacting badly to.  Punish a dog for growling at a child and you may well suppress the growl, stop the dog from doing it.  But that dog is still going to be just as uncomfortable about the child if not more so because it has been punished for showing its discomfort.  There seem to be a lot of people fall foul of bad trainers unfortunately.  It’s easy to know where to look to find a decent trainer if you already know, if you’re the average pet owner however you’re probably not going to have any idea that organisations such as the PPG exist and are probably going to use google or something to find a trainer near you and chances are it’s going to be one of those old school, punish the dog types.  Having done a quick google search myself a certain franchise features heavily in the UK.  As do many “whisperers” and “listeners” who promise very quick results.

There are probably plenty of other things that can contribute to a dog reacting badly to things but this is going to be long enough as it is.  Now yes, you could say that some of these are down to the way the owner has handled the dog.  But still, is it the owners fault?  If you don’t know the history of the dog you have absolutely no idea whether it is a rescue dog that came with those issues.  You don’t know that it has been punished for its behaviour.  You don’t know whether or not it has had bad experiences previously.  You don’t know whether the owner, realising they had problems, called in a supposed professional and knowing no better followed advice that made the problems worse.  Or perhaps they’ve had good advice and are working to rectify the problems they’re having.  It seems a hell of a lot easier to find advice that says hurt or frighten the dog than anything else unless you’re familiar with dog training terminology. Either way, they really do not need someone judging them, telling them it’s all their own fault, that they’re a terrible owner etc.  Your dog lunging and barking and snarling is embarrassing and unpleasant enough without someone who has no clue whatsoever about you and your dog spouting what is often complete and utter rubbish.

Are dogs who react badly to certain triggers bad dogs?  No, they’re not.  But that doesn’t mean that they have a bad owner either.  Please, just think a little before thoughtlessly quoting that awful phrase at them.  One day you may be the one having issues and that phrase may become the red rag to a bull that it is to me.

Apologies for the rant.  I seem to have seen this sentiment all over the place lately and as I say, it just makes me see red.

 

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Debunking the Stubborn Hound Myth

I’m sure we’ve all heard that some breeds are stupid, some breeds are highly intelligent, some breeds are highly trainable, others are too stubborn to be trained and various other things along those lines.  Well today I thought I’d post this fantastic video that proves that Beagles are not the untrainable, stubborn, stupid dogs I see so many people describing them as.  I have never met her owner but consider her to be a friend and she and Miss Tinker have made me see Beagles in a whole new light.  She has given permission for me to share the video, hopefully it will help to show people that when the right methods are used those “stubborn” hound dogs can certainly shine 🙂

Is Tink an anomaly?  I don’t think she is to be honest.  I think the fact she’s learned the behaviours she has and is so willing to do what is asked of her is because her owner has put in the time and effort to work out what makes her tick and how to bring out the best in her.  As a team they put me and Spendog to shame, they  really do, but I find them so inspiring, watching that video makes me want to teach Spen a bunch of tricks I can put together like that.  It’s brilliant!

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A coat and the first snow of the year

We had our first snow of the year a few days ago.  Sadly I’m sure it won’t be the last snow of the year though.  The same day the snow arrived so did the coat a friend sent to him, a happy coincidence really.  Not that he really needs a coat in the snow, he doesn’t seem to feel the cold at all.  The coat is more so that he can go swimming on cold days without me worrying that he’s going to freeze to death on the way home.  The RSPCA face he does when there’s perfectly good water to swim in and I won’t let him is just too much to bear lol.  So I took him outside to try on the coat and take a picture

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But he got the zoomies and so I got yet more pictures confirming that my dog is a Labradork rather than the staid and sensible Labrador I thought I was getting 😉

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He really does love the snow.  He also seems to like the coat, it has been carried around the flat a few times.  So that night we went for a walk in the dark in the snow.  I love night time walks, they’re so much more peaceful than the day time ones because it seems most people don’t like to walk when and where it’s not well lit.   It was only a short walk as I wasn’t well but it was pleasant and gave Spen the chance to get all his snow induced silliness out.  Very difficult to take good pictures when you can’t actually see your dog though.  I got lots of pics of nothing.  Really do need to get him a better light up collar as his kept switching itself off every few minutes.

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Went to the husky meet again yesterday.  More like the Spencer, Demon and Willow show at the moment though.  Not that Spen minds, Willow is the love of his life.  He’s actually spending more time playing ball now than he used to though.  Yesterday hubby came with us and Spen spent a good chunk of his time playing fetch with him.  At one point 2 dogs came to the fence so Spen said hi, spent a few minutes whining and wagging his tail and sniffing them through the fence.  Then went back to playing fetch and completely ignoring them.  Once he’s said hello to a dog then for the most part he loses interest, it’s just the fact he feels he HAS to approach and say hello that’s the problem.  He’ll sometimes play if we’re standing around but even then a lot of the time he’ll start offering me behaviours instead.  Or will play for a short time then come and ask me to do something.  Willow is about the only exception.  Maybe one day we’ll reach the point where he can ignore other dogs completely.  Maybe.  I’ve no objection to him meeting and greeting willing dogs, I just don’t want him running up to every dog he sees before I can check with the other owner that it’s okay.  He’s far better than he was though so that’s progress 🙂

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People have some odd ideas

A few days ago someone’s dog slipped its leash and came running up to say hello to Spencer.  His owner arrived in a real panic to retrieve her obviously friendly dog.  Turns out she’s been told to avoid me and the Spendog because he’s extremely aggressive!  Spencer is about as far from aggressive as you can get, he sees every strange dog as a potential new best buddy as far as I can tell.  I’m not sure whether this has been someone spreading a nasty rumour or whether it’s a case of a misunderstanding of some sort.  I did shout at a few people back when I had Rupert and they let their dogs run up to him so perhaps they recognise me as that nasty person who shouts and is aggressive rather than saying it’s Spen that’s aggressive lol.  Or perhaps there’s another yellow dog in the area who is aggressive and who I just haven’t encountered.

A while back someone else said something about worrying about their dog around Spen because of how dominant Spen is.  Dominant??  Even if I believed dogs had a rigid dominance hierarchy I would not describe Spencer as a dominant dog.  Okay, he’ll tell another dog off if they’re being rude and nobody steps in to stop it.  And if another dog starts on him he’ll have a go back.  But that doesn’t make a dominant dog surely?  As for someone being worried about their dog around him…well he has no interest at all in this particular dog.  He’ll have a brief mutual sniff if they meet while out but that’s as far as it’s ever gone.  He’s never so much as looked at him funny let alone given cause for concern!  Even if he were to tell him off (the dog in question is an adolescent male who has been known to push the boundaries) then at most it’d be an air snap and a roar sort of thing, not blood and guts and emergency vet treatment.

In a way I find all this a bit laughable, the thought of my Silly Spendog being this dominant, status seeking, aggressive dog is utterly bizarre.  But in another it annoys me.  I don’t want people avoiding us because of something someone’s said that simply isn’t true.  I certainly don’t want reporting to the authorities for having an aggressive dog when he’s anything but aggressive!

But on to happier things.  Been practising loose leash walking on the collar again and going for nice, relaxed if pully walks on the harness.  Last week we went to the woods through town again and he walked most of the way there and all the way back on a nice loose leash on his collar.  He really isn’t a fan of having to do that.  I think it’s the not being able to stop and sniff all the time that he hates.  He looks all sulky and grumpy about it lol.  I let him sniff where it’s appropriate but that’s not good enough, he wants to sniff it all.  We had a very nice walk in the woods though.  Stopped at the bottom of a hill because there was a large dog standing at the top staring down at us, very stiff and not friendly looking.  Owner leashed it and moved it on so we carried on.  Spen sat nicely and waited until we moved again.  A few minutes later we went round a corner and he was practically nose to nose with a Teckel.  Poor little thing cowered and wanted nothing to do with him.  Instead of jumping on it or anything Spen sat down and just whined a little until it passed.

We had a lot of RSPCA face from Spencer as we went along the river and I refused to let him swim.  It was a cold day and he was stuck on a leash and I had no towel or anything with me.  He was NOT impressed at there being water and him not able to go in.  A lovely lady I know online is sending him a coat her dogs have outgrown so in future he can go swimming to his hearts content and I won’t have to worry about him freezing on the walk home.  He doesn’t seem to notice the cold normally but if he’s soaked to the skin it’s likely going to be another matter.  Especially as it’s about a 40 minute walk home at least.  No doubt I’ll get all sorts of nasty comments about my Lab wearing a coat but oh well.  I got nasty comments last year as he was out in the snow naked, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t it seems lol.

And in other news, it seems we’ve finally had the light bulb moment with Spin!  It’s not a nice, tight spin at the moment, it’s more of a walk in a small circle but I can build on that.  We’ve also been playing Find The Treat I’ve Hidden Somewhere In The Room.  Ooooh boy is that one a hit!  I have ordered a book on scent work and hopefully will be able to start doing something along those lines with him.

And now I think we need pictures don’t we?  Let’s start off with the zoomies in the ditch of muddy water, love the 10 shot function on my camera.

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He seemed very pleased to be muddy again

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But I’m sure he’s made of teflon or something coz it never seems to stick to him long

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Poor Spendog, having to sit by the river and not go in!

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I think this place must be beautiful in summer.  Bet it’s busy though!

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And finally, another online friends Beagle has a thing about balancing on tree stumps and logs but Spen can’t possibly jump or climb onto one so we got a Dog By A Log pic instead of a Dog On A Log one.

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We’re still around

Well we’re still here and it has been pointed out that I am hopeless and haven’t posted to my blog in quite a while.  So here I am again.  There’s not really much changed since I last posted though.

We’re still working on recall.  Spencer is now only get a treat for turning and coming straight back when he’s called rather than being rewarded for faffing around, stopping to sniff or taking the scenic route back to me.  It took about 6 times of getting no treat for slow responses to speed him up and now we’re only getting the occasional slow one.  Still having problems with it when it comes to other dogs though, he would still ignore a recall to go and introduce himself to a dog within a certain distance.  And will still follow a dog we’re walking with to run up to a dog at a much greater distance.  Once he’s met a dog he’s happy to come back, just not until he’s met it.  So obviously he’s still on his long line a lot.  Really not sure what else I can do with it to be honest.  Just keep on working at it I guess and hope that one day it sinks in.  He’s walked past a few dogs recently without so much as a pull in their direction but would still have run up to them from about 20m away if he’d been off leash.  I’m sure some people think I’m expecting too much but I don’t find it acceptable for him to go rushing up to every dog he sees.  What if the dog is elderly?  Recovering from illness?  Aggressive?  Frightened of other dogs?  A guide dog or other assistance dog doing its job?  Not fair to them or their owner to have my social butterfly of a dog bounding up.

Other than that he is doing really well though.  We still go to the husky meets each week and he’s started to check in with me regularly and on Sunday he actually went into work mode for about 20 minutes, completely ignoring the other dogs and offering me his tricks.  This was after about 90 minutes of playing lol but it’s a start.  He has never “worked” there before, the most I’ve been able to get is a sit or down and that’s clearly been difficult for him because he’s wanted to be off playing, not stuck with me.  We’ve been doing a lot more training and playing out on walks lately though.  Nothing fancy, just the basics and playing some chase (I will not call what I do running, anyone who knows me would likely fall over laughing at the thought I might run) and some tug.

Spendog has had kennel cough recently and I have to say I can sort of understand why owners who didn’t walk him rehomed him.  He was an absolute nightmare!  He copes fine with a couple of days of restricted walks but over a week with no walks at all is another matter.  He was climbing the walls after 3 days!  And that’s with us doing lots of training and him being given stuffed Kongs and Tug a Jugs and stuff like that.  Thankfully we’re back to walking now and he’s back to his usual self and able to just chill when there’s nothing going on.

So, time for some pictures I think!  Walks have been a little limited lately due to me still having problems with my blood sugar crashing on them, been doing a loop around the crop fields mostly since it means I’m not so far from home as I am on our usual walks.   Perhaps I should just start taking a picnic out with me.  Sitting in the grass in the pouring rain eating a sandwich or something might be fun lol.

First here’s a video of a short training session with Spencer while he was on house arrest with kennel cough.  Nothing fancy or complicated, just me trying to wear him out a little.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTS_NnlL3W0

Let’s dance.

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Managing a down stay with another dog nearby.  Not sure what the weird expression is all about lol

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And apparently Kong Wobblers are best when you hide in the curtains with them.

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