Monday, August 23, 2010

Nose bridge

Haven’t posted a training video in a looooong time but we’ve been doing lots of inside stuff because of the atrocious weather. Here’s just a short clip from a while ago of us starting to clicker train a nose bridge – it’s the very first two sessions we did. The start is literally the fist time we tried. She picked it up straight away. I thought it might take a while as she already has a nose “touch” (to touch my hand with her nose and get close when in heel) and apparently when training a bridge dogs can get a bit confused and frustrated and just keep bumping and touching your hand instead of holding and pushing for a bridge. But I think it was easier for her to understand as she has already learnt to push against a target for closing doors and cupboards. Anyway, I was able to increase the threshold extremely quickly and she was giving me good nose pressure as well. Easiest thing I’ve ever had to train! I was watching some “professional” trainers videos on you tube about training this and many of them suggested to do away with the clicker and manipulate the dogs head into position (using one hand to hold the collar under the dogs chin and one to hold either side of the muzzle) and hold them there for a period and then treat/reward. I think plain old clicker training works better for me.
There’s also a bit in the video of us playing our eye contact game. Basically just holding out a treat and then rewarding for eye contact to teach the dog they are rewarded for looking at you and not for sniffing/licking/looking at the treat. I do this a lot especially in situations like sitting round waiting at training, where she has tendencies to bark (read scream/squeal) at me if she’s wired and bored and doesn’t have something to do. It’s just so easy and really helps with focus. We’ve started doing it with the ball too but the ball is still just so exciting that the wee eyes go like pinballs back and forth between me and it.

I hope someone appreciates the music hahaha.

And here are some more beautiful beachy pictures. We have to drive a bit further to do to the beach at the moment because people have found poisonous “Sea Slugs” one of the beaches close to us on the east coast – last year a couple of dogs died and lots more got really sick after eating them so to stay safe we’re making the trek over to the west coast beaches to get our fill of surf and seagulls (and to be honest they’re much nicer, bigger and wilder than the ones close to home)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

First obedience trial

As I'm sure I've said before, I'm new to the whole "doggie scene"having ridden and shown horses all my life. I'm really keen to get involved and have a go with obedience, so we decided to go out to the NZKC centre in Ardmore on the weekend to watch a trial and see what it was all about. Although I was working night shifts so coping on only 1 and a half hours of sleep made for a dopey me. We ended up entering the elementary test (which is for beginners and you can just enter on the day without having to be registered with the kennel club) and we had great fun. The other people in the class, as well as the judge and steward were so supportive and encouraging and happy to answer any questions. Pepper thought the whole scene was rather overwhelming at first but quickly settled and was happy to lie quietly at my feet.

She was a great wee dog, lots of attention in the heelwork (we got 5 off for stupid me having too short a lead - we do these days to learn so I will never have a tight lead again as we would have had a perfect score if not for me!) and her recall was great (it's what we've been working on the past 2 weeks - getting a quick, enthusiastic recall, she used to just amble in slowly) She nailed her stays too. We got 5th but I was just so pleased with her attitude.

We did go back the next day (no video) but had a bit of a different time with the heelwork. Loud (torrential) rain was pounding on the roof and she's a bit noise sensitive and was cowering a little, as well as Ben accidentally showing her the ball (which is more important than anything to her) 2 minutes before we went in. So focus was about 5% on me, 80% on looking for ball and 15% on being scared of rain. Oh well haha. Recall was still great, and it wasn't a wasted effort because we had some interesting distractions in the stays - the GS beside her in the sit was whining and then got up and walked past right in front of her her - she didn't move, such a good girl. And then in the downs a dumb bell went bouncing past and was enthusiastically retrieved right near to her in the next ring and again she stayed, so all very promising.

The worst part was that I couldn't stay to watch Cinnamon and Mint dance because I had to start work early that night :(
Pepper was just happy to come home and chew her favourite ball in the sun, which we haven't seen for what feels like weeks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Aussie and one spoiled pup

So, I've finally gotten around to actually writing something! Have only had one day off work since getting home so there's been not enough waking hours to get things done.

We had a great time away, Ben dropped Pepper off to her holiday destination (with a wonderful lady who takes dogs into her home as daycare and holidays) because I had to work up until when we left, I'm glad I didn't have to drop her off, I hate leaving my animals and I would have been an embarrassing, blubbering mess.

We stayed in Sydney with my brother (also called Ben) and his girlfriend, they’ve just gotten a puppy. I was in a state of shock when I heard this, my brother was never an animal person and his girlfriend is scared of dogs. Charlie is a 15week old staffie.
I’m not a fan of staffies but she had heaps of personality and was very sweet, very trainable too, I got her doing sit, down, stay and paw in two days. (they thought I was a ‘dog whisperer’ it was quite funny). They’re doing all the right things, going to puppy class, have brought books on puppies, booked her in for spaying, vaccination etc. But….. I found it very hard as they feel that she is an “outside dog” at night (allowed inside while they are home) and I really didn’t cope with the fact they shut such a small, short coated baby outside with only a small lean-to for shelter and a wee unimpressive bed that was occasionally wet. There was a big storm one night and I couldn’t sleep for worrying about the poor wee pup. I certainly made my feelings known. Numerous times. But there's only so much you can do when its not your dog.

Anyhow, they live right near centennial park which is HUGE and there’s off leash areas so we took her down there for some socialising, she’s very bold, bouncing up to much bigger dogs and playing, it was nice to be round a puppy again.

We went out for fabulous meals, shopped and also walked around the waterfront of Bondi - saw a bat just hanging out in the trees, so cute.

And of course did all the touristy things - Harbour bridge, Opera house etc.
We then flew over to Perth where we caught up with some friends and went down to the Margaret River area, which is famous for wine, generally spending our time drinking and eating our way through the week, it was great! And I found a Pepper statue!

This is the beach where just two days ago a man died after being bitten by a shark - glad we didn't get in the water.And I spotted a Kookaburra on the side of the road so made Ben turn around so I could take pictures, he was very cheeky.
This is the famous Freemantle prison that we toured around.

There was a not so nice part to the trip - in Freemantle we stayed in an apartment that had an extreme sewerage issue - basically toilet flushings were flowing out from the shower - HIDEOUS! The owners had left no contact details and on getting back we asked for a partial refund (fully justified I think!) and they have just been so rude and unapologetic. Grrrr.

Anyhow, we got back last week, it was so good to see Pepper, I didn't buy anything for myself while away but Pepper got a new collar and lead, a tug toy and a ferret ball (brought from the airport on the way home with left over Aussie coins)

And her sore paw is all healed up now which is a relief.