Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Focus and Control; Class 7

Last night was our second to last class for Focus & Control and it was another good one. 

I'm proud to report that Oscar did not have any reactivity problems with his nemesis, Major, and did very well overall.  There were a few times when he did a couple bark-barks, but he recovered very quickly.

We continued to do box work exercises and the fabulous instructor brought in one of her dogs to walk around while we all played LAT and "Incoming!" games.  Oscar did great.  We were next to Sophie, a 5 year old Shar Pei mix who is such a little spit fire...totally cute and full of energy.  I kept Oscar on leash the whole time we were doing box work, but "accidentally" dropped the leash a few times and he did just fine.  Woot-woot!

After box work, we moved onto more mat games.  Oscar did quite well...he was definitely distracted and I had to use a food lure to get him to work, but no reactivity what-so-ever.

I've noticed a shift in his behavior the past couple of classes in that he is actually relaxed enough to lay down on his mat in class.  Reflecting back to the first night of class, he couldn't even lay down with a food lure he was so stressed. 

Watching his transformation has been such a delight and I know he will continue to get better and we will continue on our life journey together.

One more week!  Eek!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

10 Things

Oscar and his Babble Ball...
This evening after I arrived home from work, I immediately got a sense of calm and happiness as I opened the door to go into the house.  What gave me that feeling is simple.  My dogs (and with all due respect, my husband usually does too, but he wasn't home at the time and this is a dog blog after all).

I realized that a lot of times I focus on things that I want from my dogs to make them better (whatever that means, right?!) and that is just plain old silly.  Dogs are dogs and they are supposed to behave as such.  I am as guilty as the next person for wanting my dogs to be "perfect." 

So, as I enter this post, it's all about 10 things I love and appreciate about my dogs, Ms. Fanny Pants and Mr. Oscar the Grouch, both individually and as a combined canine crew.

Without further adieu.......

1.) They are unconditional with their love.  I have never, ever come home to them and seen them without a wagging tail and utmost joy to see me.
2.) Fanny is an incredibly distinguished, independent woman.  She quietly reminds me that it is A-OK to be a strong soul.
3.) Oscar is a total and sincere goofball and lives life to the fullest...at every moment.  He, too, reminds me that it is necessary to be silly and get silly often.
4.) Both have taught me to live in the moment...or at least try to live in the moment.
5.) Fanny and Oscar have never gotten in a squabble with each other.  They get along fantastically well and I could not ask for anything else between them.
6.) They share the same passion for food that I have.  We all love to eat and that's a goooood thing.
7.) Dogs will be dogs.  Meaning...they will bark, they will chase things, they want to smell  other dogs' excretions (and sometimes lick or roll in them!).
8.) They don't want baths...or their nails trimmed, but God bless them both - they tolerate them.
9.) Oscar has been quite the challenge, but that is exactly why I love him.  I need him to keep me on my toes.
10.) Fanny, too, has been quite the dog, but she is such a sensitive soul that has taught me that with unconditional love and hard work, things can and will change.

I love you my two white fluffies...this one's for you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Focus & Control; Class 6

Class 6 of 8 is in the books.  Oscar did well overall, although he had a few little snarky moments.  He continues to amaze me with his fabulous recovery time...I've said this in the past, but last night was another reminder how wonderful he really is. 

We started off with some more box work and all of the dogs were put into their designated spots.  Oscar and I were the last to enter, but before we went in, we walked up and down and played LAT and stopped a couple of times to do some hand targeting.   Oscar did fantastic when we were moving around outside the box.  Everyone else took a turn doing the same thing we did outside their respective boxes and the only time Oscar got all poopy was when his nemesis, Major, was walking around outside our box.  Too long of eye contact without timely interuption is what caused it.  I knew it and could have prevented it, but I want Oscar to learn on his own that he has other choices...he has the choice to turn and look away from scary stuff...or at the least not react. 

Continuing on for the rest of class we did some fun mat work games with 2 mats and a chair, then with 1 mat and 2 chairs.  Oscar really enjoyed the games and it helped him get comfortable working in close proximity to other dogs.  He was being such a goofball jumping up on the chair like a circus animal. 

So, overall the class was a success.   Oscar had a little bark-bark at some people on our way home that were waiting at a bus stop...I'm finding that he is more reactive to "things" in the dark, but he was like that last year and so far this year he hasn't been as spooked by things. 

2 more classes to go and it will be a bittersweet end.  I really like being able to work him in a classroom setting where there are other dogs and people working in a structured environment (and I love his instructors!), but I won't mind having my Monday nights back (hello, Dancing With the Stars is on!).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Finished Book: "Animals in Translation" by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

Animals in Translation 
It's been a while since I actually finished reading a dog-related book and I have to say that it feels good to finally have another one done.

The weekend wasn't overly busy which afforded me the time to finished Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson's wonderful book, Animals in Translation.  What a unique, lovely read about animal behavior (and not just dogs, but cattle, horses, cats and birds!).

A brief overview of the book:
Temple Grandin is a high-functioning autistic with a doctorate degree who's life work revolves around her ability to see and read animals.  Her unique perspective stems from the fact that autistic humans are similar to animals in that they both see the world in pictures, not language.

I found the book to be a very delightful read and found myself on countless occasions saying, "Wow.  That totally makes sense!  She really gets it!"  Temple's writing style is often times witty and straight to the point, which I can sincerely appreciate...she writes the way she sees the world, in pictures, with straight-to-the-point sentences.

This is one of those rare books that I would actually recommend to any one of my friends, not just those who own dogs, cats, etc.  The information Temple puts onto the pages crosses the board for all people to read, enjoy and learn about.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Focus & Control; Class 5 (We NAILED it!)

Last night was class #5 of Focus and Control and I couldn't be happier to report that Oscar (and I!) nailed it!  He did AWESOME and made me so incredibly proud!!!

We got there and there were a few dogs already in the room and two of them started barking their heads off at Oscar and I, but we skated by without any problems what-so-ever!  100% of my attention was on Oscar and "listening" to him...in turn he communicated beautifully with me and told me exactly what he wanted and was comfortable doing.

The new things we worked on were:
1.) Box work with increased distractions (people running by, people bouncing tennis balls, a new dog walking by)
2.) "There's a dog in your face!" (the instructor had her bombproof dog and walked him up to us - about 8-10 feet away as we practiced saying "Incoming!" and shoving treats in our dogs mouth)
3.) Go to place (we worked this with all the dogs at the same time - spread around the room - and introduced an object (a chair) that we sent our dogs around and onto the mat.)

Oscar did wonderful and I dang well know that he will have reactive episodes in the future, but he is definitely learning how to cope better with things.  That-a-boy! :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Focus & Control; Class 4 (Husband Saves the Day)

Well, week 2 of my husband flying solo in class, bless his soul, because I had to attend a work function that I found out about earlier in the day (gotta love last minute schedule changes).

I'm not exactly sure what our take home work will be, but from what it sounds like they did some active attention exercises much like Leslie McDevitt does when one dog is working in his/her own box and other dogs are sitting/laying on their mats around the ring.  Oscar did quite well and only got into trouble when the doofus dog, "Coach" had a stare off.  After class, the instructor said that it was all the other dog who initiated the naughty dog behavior.

Overall, Oscar did very well...he still had a reaction, which I was not thrilled to hear...I WANT BORING for the boy and other owners' lack of understanding proper canine behavior (DUH!  Don't allow your dog to stare down another dog!  Even in human language staring isn't polite!).

Next week I will be there, with bells and whistles on, to take Oscar and be there with him.  He's had some habituation now and I think he is progressing.  Maybe I'm being too hard on him and asking too much of him not to have a reactive spat, but I'm also not upset with him for being who he is...a dog...and acting like one if the situation deems appropriate (like getting stared at, or chasing a squirrel, or getting super duper excited at dinner time).

...the quest for boring continues...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Focus & Control; Class 3 (I love my husband)

This post is a little late...a week to be exact...as I was on vacation last week and my husband took Oscar to class all by himself (bless his little heart).

Night 3 of Oscar's Focus & Control class went off without a hitch.  Remembering an earlier blog post I had talking about the quest for boring...well, that is exactly what happened on night 3 of class.  Figures!  I was off in California on vacation and my husband flew solo to class and Oscar was a perfect student.  Gosh golly.

So, while I don't have a detail explanation of what happened at class, here are the new exercises that were introduced...

1.) "LOOK at THAT!" (a.k.a. "LAT")
2.) Crate Rules
3.) Start Line Stays
4.) Go to Place

All of these exercises were, basically, taken right out of Leslie McDevitt's fabulous book, "Control Unleashed" so if there was any week were I should have missed class it would have been this one. 

I can't help but think that Oscar's behavior was a direct reflection on my husband's.  He tends to run with such a calm and cool temperament and Oscar knows this.  I'm the one who's wired...constantly moving...needing to do more, more, more. 

Perhaps I should leave town more often or have Aaron take over all the dog training! :)

...and the results are...

After taking a week off for a much needed vacation, here I am back at my blog.

I was happily surprised when I received the results for Oscar's blood work from Dr. Jean Dodd's the Friday before I left on my trip.  His blood work came back 100% perfect.  No problems with his thyroid, no problems with his CBC or differental.  Perfect. 

While I was extremely happy that he had stellar results, part of my shed a tear that his slow weight gain was not chalked up to having something wrong with his thyroid.  Oh well, I'll take it and continue to cook for the little monster.