Friday, October 13, 2017

Ida was in a moving car today.

Ida chose to stay in the car when the door was opened.

Ida jumped right back in when I lured her out.

We have a long way to go still, but at least now I'm pretty sure we can get there.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

An Ode to Snowball

Snowball's first morning in our home
This blog is primarily about Ida, but Snowball and I have been spending a lot of time together, taking Rally Obedience classes, and it's really brought me awareness about how lucky I am. I started typing this up as a FB post, but it's really too long for that. So I'm posting it here instead. Today, I am grateful that you have been my first dog. You're the reason that became interested in dog behaviour and training, and how I ended up with R+ right from the beginning. Although I had planned to take a dog training class when we got our first dog, classes at the shelter (which uses R+ training methods only) were a requirement with your adoption. Although I learned a lot about learning theory, the quadrants, and counter conditioning, in those classes, I left with some questions still; they mainly served to whet my appetite about dog behaviour.

From those classes, we went on to many, many walks together, all over the neighborhood. And eventually, to the off-leash parks around the city. You've always been up for a walk, rain, snow, or shine (but not in wind, it messes up your hair too much), and although you've started to slow down in the last year or two, it's still clear that you love going out and about, checking the pee-mail.

I wish I could've seen you as a baby puppy. Certainly at 8 years old you were no slouch, and I can only imagine how much energy a younger, more athletic you would've had. I'm sure you were a ton of fun. You "eskie grin" is contagious and always brightens up my day.

I hope our journey together will serve as a guidebook for all of my future dogs. I have made mistakes that would have ended much differently if you were larger, younger, or more determined. I hope that I never forget that even though some days I felt completely hopeless and inadequate, and that you surely would be better off somewhere else, that we still achieved our goals. It just took time, patience, and consistency. I am also lucky that you have been so forgiving of my mistakes and haven't put too much effort into training me. 🤣

Whether it's driving to Calgary to prove that yes, you are in fact a good dog, or hiking 10 km up a mountain, or just laying around the office while I help less fortunate doggos, you go with the flow. Sometimes you don't understand why I want you to do a thing, but (most of the time) you do it anyway. I'm sorry that I can't make you getting older any easier on either of us, but I hope that you're around for a long time to come. The house is going to be very lonely when it's not furnished by your borks. <3

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dreams and Goals - Update

I am just reviewing and revising my dreams/goals for each dog and myself.

Snowball's Dreams
- TEAM1 Title
- "Compete" in rally and/or scent detection
- Get his intermediate trick dog title (strikeout)
- Get his advanced trick dog title

Ida's Dreams
- Be comfortable around traffic
- Be comfortable around other dogs
- Get her CGN
- Title in agility
- Have running contacts
- Title in Rally

My Dreams
- Build a career that involves dogs

- That's really the only one that matters


Submit the papers for his Novice Trick Dog (NTD) by Friday, January 13, 2017
Complete!  Snowball received his NTD certificate February 22, 2017.

New Goal: Film and submit ITD before December 31, 2017. Selected tricks:
  • Go around a cone
  • Close a door
  • Leg weave
  • Perch work
  • Roll over
  • Shell game (nose=1, paw=2)
  • Back up (2)
  • Cross your paws (2)
  • Distance work (Sit, down, stand; 2)
  • Place (left finish)
Enter the Barnhunt fun match in Red Deer in March 2017.
Complete! Snowball “passed” the instinct test with the second fastest time in his category; we did not Q for either Novice run, but we had a lot of fun anyway.
Hind end conditioning with the end goal of pain relief for his arthritis (and improving his sit)
Ongoing. Regular perch and pivot work

New goal: Continue perch/pivot work on both sides, and work on building a stronger sit/eliminate him walking backwards into a sit.

New Goal: Fade out rewards during rally sequences in preparation for trialing in the future.
Submit papers for her NTD title by Friday, January 13, 2017.
Compete!  Ida received her NTD certificate February 22, 2017.

New Goal: Film and submit ITD before December 31, 2017. Selected tricks:
  • Go around (“fly”)
  • Jump wraps
  • Baton jump
  • Jump through circled arms
  • Perch work
  • Place (left finish)
  • Sit pretty
  • Soccer
  • Go to mat
  • Directional casting
  • Back-up (2)
  • Directed retrieve (2)
Attempt TEAM1 by May.
We have cleaned up several components; and are starting to do run-thrus.

New Goal: Film TEAM1 by December 2017.
Learn weaves and teeter by Summer 2017
Ida has 6 weaves in easy situations (low distraction, low-medium arousal).

New Goal: Work towards 12 weaves and building fluency with high arousal, from different entry points, etc.  Will be put on hold when snow flies.

Teeter work on hold until I have access to equipment.

Car conditioning. I aim to do at least one session per day.  Sometimes I do none, and sometimes I do three, c'est la vie.  We have made notable progress - she is no longer bothered by the sound of the car being started (when she’s not in it), but she is still nervous of the car when the engine is running.

Take Snowball for a walk every day, even when the weather is bad*
*walking a circle around the cul-de-sac counts in really bad days.
Write out cue dictionary
Train at least 5 minutes per day with each dog.  Seriously me, 5 minutes isn't that long, set a timer if I have to.
The amount that I train has significantly increased.  I have also added an easy limit on Ida’s car desense - 10 dried anchovies per session - which has made it far less intimidating for me.
Drink at least 1000 ml of water every day for the rest of January.
I failed at this.  New goal: work on a more creative solution.
Take at least 7500 steps every day for the rest of January.
I have been keeping up with this.  I won’t say I’ve been perfect, but I have been adding in small things, like taking the stairs down instead of the elevator and parking my car a bit further away and walking to my office.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tonight I am initiating a hiatus from Facebook.  It will be hard - it has been a part of my daily life for the last 10 years, a way to connect with the kind of people I've struggled to meet locally, both in terms of philosophy and shared interests.

But it's become too much of a habit, and a draining one.  There is too much judgement, too much ignorance and hate.  And I know going off facebook won't eliminate that hate, but it is extremely hard for me to constantly expose myself to those attitudes - especially in a context in which I can't do anything to change them.

It has also become my main displacement behaviour.  Unsure what to do?  Check facebook.  Bored in the car?  Check facebook.  Finished writing a work e-mail and not sure whether to send it or not?  Check facebook.

It needs to stop, and it's not stopping on its own.  My goal is to build a new displacement behaviour - one that's a bit healthier and not as easy to get sucked into.  I also want to spend more time just... in life.  With my dogs.  With the cat.  And connecting with people more meaningfully, which is not something I'm good at doing online.  I hope someday I can return - there are a lot of things I like about it and a lot of people that I don't have any other way to connect with.  I'll miss having a resource for nearly immediate answers to question, but I won't miss the word vomit that spouts from my fingers, seemingly out of my own control.

I know that this won't magically fix all of my problems, but it's something that I can initiate by myself, entirely on my own terms.  I hope it gives me back some time, and also some of my sanity.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

FE 345 - Immitation and Mimicry - Week 1 notes and homework

Behaviours on verbal cue

  • Sit
  • Over
  • Hup/Up
Behaviours almost on verbal cue alone

  • Drop
  • Spin
  • Kiss?
Behaviours not on verbal cue alone that are likely easy to put on verbal cue
  • Left (paw)
  • Right (paw)
  • Fly
  • Touch
The rest of the homework for this week is proofing stays/waits, and thinking about how to demonstrate the behaviour so that the dog will recognize the human motions as analogous to dog motions.

An eventful week

Two amazing things happened this week.

1.  We have started working on consent cues, and a nose-touch on the car door is how I've been teaching Ida to ask to get into the car.  A friend was dropping my husband off from a day-trip yesterday - Ida came outside to say "hi" and hang out while they unloaded the car.... and during that time Ida offered several nose-touches on the back door of our friend's car.

This is huge, mainly because first, she's offering the behaviour outside of the context of training, and second to be it indicates that she actually wants into the car, which would never have happened a month ago.

2. We also have started going to a the nearby community league property, which has an outdoor rink that is almost fully enclosed, and is grass and therefore disused in the summer.  We've just been going there to hang out in a new place.  What I didn't realize is how many hares live around there (although I probably shouldn't be surprised, since there is a large community garden plot less than 100 m away from the rink).  We were just hanging out in the rink, Ida was sniffing some stuff and started wandering over to the open door.  I called her back no problem and we kept sniffing... she started wandering over again so I put her into a down stay and went to close the gate just in case, and wouldn't you know it, there was a GIGANTIC hare just laying in the grass about 20 feet away. Good girl Ida (and thank goodness the hare didn't decide to take off because I have no illusions about how well she'd recall while chasing down a rabbit).

Sunday, June 25, 2017

This weekend there was a regional agility championship held in my city.  I knew a few people running; a friend, some former shelter staff/volunteers, former instructors, former classmates, and even a shelter dog who I worked with briefly years ago.

After my friend finished running her dog, as I pulled out of the parking lot, a bunch of things hit me all at once.  How awful it is to explain to people that you can't play the game that you love because your dog can't leave your home.  How everyone I know is progressing so well and I'm stranded behind them by myself.  How, even if I get a puppy, it will still be years before we actually get to play (and then what if the new puppy can't play either?  Then what?)  How unfair it is that I have this great, fun, smart little dog and no one else gets to see how amazing and smart she is.

I'm just throwing myself a pity party, but I had to get it out.