Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reactivity work

We've started doing scent discrimination with metal canning rings, and Cai is correct 90% of the time with 3-4 articles. I'm honestly impressed, haha! Now to proof the exercise, then add leathers. With Dragon I also worked plastics, in the form of pens and pill bottles. He was 100% correct in scent discrimination!

This morning we hiked in Redwood Regional Park. I had Cai on a ten foot line to work on his reactivity (it allows me to stop him from rushing toward people or dogs if he goes over threshold, and more effectively interrupt and redirect him). There's still a lot of work to be done, but it feels like we're over the hump. It's getting easier to redirect his focus on to me and reward him for being calm. The tone of his bark and body language are steadily changing from alarm to frustrated greeting, which I see as progress. I'd rather be dealing with a patience/impulse control issue than a fear issue!

In the afternoon I drove to a nearby bakery and we sat outside on a bench as I ate a scone (delicious raspberry-walnut scone, mmm!). He barked at a giant stroller heading right for us, but otherwise hung out calmly. We walked to the ATM and he got lots of attention from the ladies. He's so handsome!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Conformation class

Took the Monster to the Braveheart drop in conformation practice, and he blew me away with how focused and well-behaved he was! No reactivity when he came in (it helped that the other students all had small dogs), and he heeled happily next to me with only occassional "I wanna go play!!" lunging toward the Frenchies. He let Vicki check his teeth and touch him all over. He even held a down-stay while Vicki purposefully walked between us! Of course it helped that I was waving boiled chicken in his face the entire time, but even so he was watching my face and body more than staring at the chicken, and he was solidly in working mode for the second half of class. Go Monster!

The other students were very impressed with his behavior at just six months old, until Vicki blew my cover as a professional trainer. :P

After class he got to play with one of the Frenchies and had a blast out-running her, haha!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Weekend in Tahoe

We spent the weekend at the condo in Tahoe. I brought along a new plastic buzzer which makes a "ding dong!" noise when Cai presses on it. He learned within a day that when he hits it, I come over and let him outside. He mostly used his new power for good rather than evil, though he did sometimes press it when he just wanted to eat some snow.

He wore his new Hurtta coat with a woven sweater underneath, and it kept him comfortable even when we were out for a log time. We didn't get a chance to go on a long walk in the snow like I'd hoped to, but we did walk to the grocery store with my mother and waited outside for her. The effects of his early socialization with me were apparent -- he was not bothered at all by the automatic doors or loud shopping carts, but he did growl and bark at a trio of loudly giggling teenage girls. Sigh.

Chimera was so well behaved this trip that it was like someone had slipped me a different dog. Sure, he still routinely stole things and marked on the new curtains, but he also started to give up on jumping onto the couch, did very little demand barking, and slept quietly in his crate when we left him home alone. I guess all the new sights, smells, etc wore him out.

My parents were very sweet with him and I got some nice pictures of them playing tug with him on my camera. I think I've attached some iPhone pictures to this post, too. (Using the Blogger app for the first time.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Taped ears

At the front steps.
Chewing on an antler piece.
Playing with his brother, Jasper.
Sherry and I worked on taping up his ears. They are BIG ears. We experimented with moleskin and Breathe Right strips, but even with that they would fall forward, so we realized we had to tape around the base to hold them up.
The moleskin didn't grip well and would get shaken out quickly, so now I've settled on the nasal strips and tape. This seems to be working well. He shakes his head a lot but is getting used to the annoying feeling. Poor pup!

Training breakthroughs

I've had a super busy week and a half, and hardly had time to devote to Cai. However we just had a great little training session and it made me pause and reflect on how far he's come. I knew when I met him at 10.5 weeks old that he was bold, curious, and confident. I loved those qualities, and I assumed that along with them would come a high intelligence and that I could channel his energy into a love of training. It's come true!

Shaping him to pick up a dumbbell was fairly easy, but I worried about teaching him to bring it to my hand. We went through a stage when he valued the dumbbell, and therefore would pick it up and run away with it. However thanks to all the trading we've done and working on teaching him to fetch by throwing toys down the long, skinny hallway, he's now happily bringing it right to my hand. We've progressed to me placing the dumbbell in various places to add fun to the retrieve, eg, in his bed, in the crate, on top of a step, in a box.

We also recently started working on scent articles, and about the same time I started a nosework-style scent game of putting a green tea bag in a metal tin and hiding that tin for him to find. I first taught him to nose target the tea bag, and then the tin, and then started hiding it so that it was less and less visible. He's still in the early stages of figuring out how scent travels and how to track it to its source, however he definitely understands that he can use his nose to find the location of the tin. It's thrilling to watch, and gives him a great mental workout. I like this method more than the usual Nosework(tm) method of introducing scent work, but it requires already having a foundation knowledge of scent games and dog training. So this evening was the first time that I put out three articles (metal canning rings) with the goal of teaching him to discriminate based on scent and choose mine. I was excited to see him give all the articles quick sniffs the first time he went out, and he happened to choose the scented one, so jackpot!! We did a few more rounds and he had a 50% success rate, which is better than guessing but his understanding isn't solid. That is better than I expected, though!

Chimera is lying behind my chair as I type this. He is steadily becoming more affectionate with me. He is also slowly gaining manners when we visit other people's homes -- able to settle down more easily, and more reliable with potty training. I love this puppy.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Picture update

Chimera was very well-behaved when he visited my friends last week.
It's unusual to see him settle down when we're at someone else's home, especially right next to me -- although he's becoming more and more cuddly as he gets older.
I'm happy that he's used to traveling with me.
I want to have a dog I can take anywhere! (Once we're over the reactivity, of course... we're slowly making progress.)
He went on many hikes this week.
I actually prefer not to take him on group hikes, because then I can't work on his "OMG DOGS" reaction when we come across new dogs on the trail. Sometimes my schedule requires that I bring him along, though.
This morning my groomer friend trimmed his ear hair, to help his ears stand up properly. Compare these ears to the ones pictured up top!!
On Monday we will be visiting Sherry and Jacques and she will help me prop his ears up with moleskin so that they will grow into the proper shape.
Look at those Bambi eyes!
We got home and saw that his Hurtta winter jacket had come in the mail!
It will keep him nice and warm when he's playing in the snow in Tahoe. If needed, I can also put a sweater on him underneath -- I bought a new red and grey one to match his coat!
It covers his belly properly, and there are straps in the back which go under his legs, to keep the back of the coat in place.
Look at those bat ears!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Training and adolescence

Eep, Cai and I have been doing SO much training lately, and I can't keep up with blogging because I'm too busy! I like writing about what we've been learning because it helps me assess our progress and plan ahead.

We saw Denise Fenzi last week. The most important things I got out of the lesson were a reminder to use less food and more playtime (especially "personal play", without toys) and tips on how to do that, a tip to get him to bring me his dumbbell by standing behind his mat, and she convinced me to cancel my upcoming Intro to Nosework class because of how the training clashed with some of the principles that Denise follows. She said that she can tell as soon as a dog has started Nosework because they disconnect from the handler in new areas and start searching around for food, and it's especially a problem with little dogs because they're so low to the ground already. She also had some criticism of the way that the official Nosework (tm) sport is taught, and they struck a chord with me. So while I do think that it's an awesome activity for the average person/dog to get into, I'm going to hold back with my own dog, at least for now.

We've been progressing nicely in agility, and are working on short sequences of jumps and the mini tunnel. I need to work on getting Cai to drive ahead. It's a problem because we've been practicing mostly in my living room, so he doesn't have room to learn that. Also we need to go back to focus forward foundation.

Sit and down still aren't reliably on cue. It's boring to work on.

The other big update is that Cai is officially a teenager. He barks at everything, all the time. He jumps on me, which wasn't a problem before. He's more interested in running off to explore the world. He has non-stop energy, no matter how much I do with him. But at the same time, my Monster is slowly getting a little cuddlier, and we're making progress with his dog reactivity. (The people reactivity is harder because it's less predictable.) I am quite happy with his development.