Monday, December 28, 2009

Potty Training 101....

When Cricket came here she was already pretty savy with the idea of not going potty in the house. I can not imagine she would have EVER went potty in her xpen or her crate and as long as I was paying attention we had almost no accidents. I think her success was because I let her out a LOT, about every hour, a few min. after she was playing, as soon as she woke up from her nap, a few min. after she ate, when she had a funny look in her eye and pretty much any time I thought about it, LOL. I was really fanatical about making sure I went out with her each time she went potty and gave her a reward and said "go pee" or "go potty" as she was getting ready to go, so she pretty much will go on command and knows she should go out and get her business done. I also have adjusted so we do not play outside until the business is done, then we spend a little while playing before we come in most times. Anyway, so I am patting myself on the back, LOL, but it has really gone so easy with Cricket.

On Christmas day Cricket gave me a very NICE gift. She started using the bells on the door to tell me she has to go out. Up until now she really did not seem to have a way to tell us that she had to go out, sometimes she would vaguely walk in the area of the door, but she really had no clear signals and not sure she really understood potty in the house bad, although with the treats she seemed more clear on the concept that potty outside is GOOD. So it was interesting to see her run to the door and set off the bells. I have had three dogs now that just learned to do that-call people to let them out with the bells, and one dog (Liz) that never did. I stuck the bells on the door when I either was potty training Breeze, or maybe when I was potty training Liz-but I do not think I had them for her??? Breeze learned to use them pretty quickly, Cherry learned to use them in the first couple of days probably because she was an adult and now Cricket.

This is one of those things that I never really taught, just from the time these dogs came to the house when the door was open you hear the bells, so guess that is enough association that they put it all together and figure if they make noise with the bells that will give someone the idea to come and open the door. I think that is just too cool.

I was originally going to buy some of the bells they sell to hang on the door but I made this by just braiding some fleece, actually I think it originally was a toy I made. I have a tennis ball on one leg of the toy, and then I took some bells and stuck them on a round clip thingie for holding papers, and threaded that in the braiding, I stuck on some Christmas bells I got on a clearance, and just tied in a bunch of bells. The door is a slider, so I just sort of fashioned something to hook the toy onto the door. Anyway, little brilliant Cricket has been going to the door a lot for the past few days and seems pretty reliable letting us know she has to go out, so we have been able to relax the vigil a little more, LOL. I can hear the bells through the whole house because our house is small-a benefit to a small home-YIPPIE.

STALKER CRICKET-hummm, you would think she is a border collie! I am not sure what she was stalking because all the dogs are behind her?

The picture of Cricket with the prick ears is a total misrepresentation because her ears sit sort of half up in the front but very floppy, I think there is no chance she will have prick ears, LOL, but in that picture she looked up at me and that made her ears fall into a prick position, LOL.

Little Cricket also had another suprise for me the last few days....LOOSE TEETH!!! Poor baby has some very loose teeth, time is marching on!

COOL NEW THING I FIGURED OUT-I figured out how to download the videos from youtube and then convert them so they go on Itunes so I can put them on my Ipod. I downloaded a few sequences from Agilitynerd, and figure when I go to the yard to work on them tonight I can work on the sequence, but if I get stuck or want to try other ways to handle things, I have a little video tutorial right at my finger tips, how cool is that? It always takes me awhile to figure out the technology I have available, LOL.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Well, the holiday is almost here. Cricket is sacked out after a full day of excitement and the rest of the dogs went with Hubby and the kids on a walk while I make the pumpkin pies, some black bean enchiladas-since we are vegetarians, and I finish the last batch of cookies. Of course we have been watching the Santa Tracker-my youngest is a believer and is very excited. Check out this cute little Christmas song that they have been playing on Radio Disney-you get to listen to those channels when you have kids, LOL. I think it is such a funny song, it definately gave me a smile!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Herding and Crickets first time at the beach

Monday was our herding day and I was really looking forward to it because I got to go down by myself with the dogs because the girls could stay home with their dad. It was a nice day, pretty overcast so it felt a little more like winter, and it just felt like a relaxed quiet day, I LOVED it. It was such a nice day, some good company, a pretty day, working with the dogs, what more could I ask for? Karen from Contact Point Border collies stopped by during my lesson so I got to talk to her a little bit, and of course Robin always makes herding fun. I asked Robin to start off working with Liz a little bit to get us going, so I got a little video of Robin working with Liz. I did the rest of the lesson with Liz and boy, Robin makes it all look like a quiet, and that is not how it looks when I am doing it!

Next time I go I am going to try to get some video of the ewes and lambs, they are so adorable and they just jump straight up in the air like little Mexican jumping beans, I could sit and watch them all day.

After we finished herding I took all three dogs, Liz, Breeze and Cricket and did agility. I worked with Breeze and just did some playing with some short small elements of the course that was set up and we worked a bit on the contacts and had a good time. I think Breeze and I need to sit and play in the backyard a little more to get working really in sync with each other again. Liz was SPECTACULAR and looked like she was having a blast and little Cricket was very good on her recalls and just doing some of her stuff in a new place. Cricket gets GOLD stars for how she was walking on leash yesterday-probably because she does not yet understand how exciting it is to walk toward an agility field or how exciting the sheep are.

I got myself a little Christmas gift, I got my own flag for herding. The flag is what Robin has us using to sort of get the dogs attention and let them know when they need to move further back-a sort of extension of your arm. Now that I have a flag and am working with my own dog does that mean I am a herder now? LOL, who would have thought?

Next we headed to the beach. It was a bit on the chilly side, and I am sure the water was cold so I wanted to just let Cricket play on the beach and experience the sights and sounds, I was grateful to Breeze for being a great ambassador and showing Cricket the beach is a fun place.

It turned into a VERY LONG day when the GPS in my phone sent me into he middle of nowhere when I tried to find a Trader Joe's on the way home...first off there was no Trader Joe's where the phone said there was, and then when I plugged in to have it show me how to get home it sent me into the middle of NOWHERE. YIKES, my gas gauge was near empty and I had no clue where I was then and I could not find a gas station. The lady in the GPS in the phone is going to get coal in her stocking from me! I have to say I was pretty scared until I could find my way back to a freeway and found a gas station.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

a Fun Match and some socializing

It was a gorgeous day here in Southern California, it had to be in the 70's for our fun match-so the weather was a little hot at times, but pretty much perfect-and so weird when I see everyone else's pictures of snow.

The high point of the day was late in the day when I decided to let Liz do some agility. This match was TOTALLY UNFENCED. It was not right on the street and it was not a really busy street, but a busy street was very close. Liz is a runner, and this was a totally new place, very unorganized, lots going on, but I thought I will take her out on leash and just take her over one jump at a time and really reward and just see how it goes. I took Liz out and she did one jump, I gave her a reward, she did another jump, and she turned right back to me and I did feel her connected with me so I took her over the triple, again she was connecting even though we were at the end of the ring where she could see the wide open field behind the ring. I was feeling good so I tucked her leash in her harness and we did a jump to the teeter-WHOOPS, totally did not go to the teeter but made a big turn to the Aframe, but up and over the Aframe and landed in a perfect contact-turned and looked at me still connected. YIPPIE. So we totally blew off the marked course and did the tunnel to a 180 and then back over the aframe. By this time her leash is on but tucked up and she is still staying connected and I have not seen her think about leaving and of course I am very aware by this time that the leash tucked in the harness is going to do nothing to help me if she bolts, it is just giving me a false sense of security, but it keeps my nerves doing ok, so.... Then came the big moment, a 180 to the weaves, but the weaves were heading into wide open space, YIKES, did I dare??? I took off the leash and Liz quickly glanced out of the ring, the first time she had done that, so I quickly said something to her-but really did not feel nervous and we were off. She did the 180 to the weaves and did a GORGEOUS set of weaves-her first 24 in spacing weaves and it totally did not throw her. Liz does best on the obstacles she has to think about a lot. Anyway, after that we connected, I did a rear cross over a jump to the dog walk-perfect contacts and two more jumps and we were done. Whoooo hoooo Lizzie. This would not have been possible even a few months ago. It was probably a good thing I had waited until later in the day to do that with Liz because then I was not tempted to do it again and push the boundaries which always gets me in trouble, we were able to end on an excellent note.

Cricket is 13 weeks old and still in that open, impressionable stage where it is important to give puppies lots of good experiences, so Ian Dunbar would be proud of Cricket yesterday. I took her to the playground right by the agility rings, lots of great different surfaces to climb and play on, and she apparently really loves kids-big ones, small ones, what ever, she seems to like kids. I know Cricket got to play with Brittney's (Crickets breeder) son, and when she sees little boys that age she really lights up and gets so excited. From the videos I have seen Brittney's son is an excellent puppy socializer, and I think that is going to really be a great thing for Cricket. Breeze is really afraid of kids, and it is easy to manage and I need to work on it, but it is so nice when a dog is ok with kids. We were able to find a lot of nice dogs for Cricket to say Hello to and play with. And of course being a puppy at a fun match...she got to meet a lot of people. She even met Santa and put up with the kids doing the picture putting little red velvet cuffs with bells on her feet and around her neck, and then the reindeer ears....and the big guy holding her with a beard and a funny hat, she took it all like a trooper. All in all a terrific day of socializing for a little pup. The playground had some great equipment for Cricket to get on some wobbly things, some high things, and some different surfaces.

After the match I took her to the Bass Pro Shop in our area. They have a two story fish tank with huge fish, an elevator that is glass that goes up right by the fish tank, there are stuffed dead animals, ;-( (I really hate that, but it is weird stuff for the pup to see), there is a waterfall in the store, and lots of weird hanging things, and the people in there are always really nice to dogs, and they allow dogs in the store. I had not counted on the place being PACKED. If I had really thought about it being right before Christmas I might not have brought her, but it is a bit of a drive to get there and it was on my way home from the fun match. It was so crowded and in front of the store there were tons of people. When we got there Cricket was nervous about the shopping carts, and strollers. We worked on playing the look at that game, then made a game of her going up and touching the shopping carts, and by the end of the visit she was totally fine with both things. She got to see three people in wheel chairs, lots of friendly strangers, a poodle that wanted to play and a lot more kids. She was a little nervous for a few minutes when she saw big crowds but we had went with another border collie puppy friend who is a little older then her, so when she saw he was ok, she decided it was all ok. She really is a very confident little puppy, I keep feeling I really lucked out with this little girl.

I have to say that it was a very hard, frustrating "fun" match for us. First off the last few weeks Breeze and I just feel so off. Nothing feels like it is flowing, I am not feeling the connection with my dog while I run and I messed up so badly...I was on her path to the weaves, which pushed her off, I was late cuing things, and I did some things I NEVER do. I was watching how a lot of other people were running the course and I just totally switched my plan and did it the way everyone else was. Totally wrong for us, not the way I walked it and actually a way I pretty much knew Breeze would not like, I usually make a plan and just go with it and it usually always works but for some reason yesterday I just did not have the confidence to just go out there and play with Breeze, and it showed. I wanted to sit and hit myself in the head with a rolled up newspaper or something. Of course our contacts on the dog walk were terrible, and Breeze was having no part of the table today, LOL, yep table troubles today-and we NEVER have those. The only thing that was pretty good was the start line, she broke once but the work we have put into those did show. The good thing is that Breeze was very happy and confident, no sign of the stress at the start lines that we had been starting to get after the last trial, there were some good parts for sure!

Right now, it is just not fun at all to be running and feeling so out of sorts-and I just do not know how to get it all to gel again. Maybe it is being so focused on the puppy and we are sort of taking a break, we have had to change training places so I do not really feel a part of that yet, I have plans to start working with another really terrific friend after the holidays-and I always work better when I am working with someone else, so maybe I should just not take it so seriously and know that this is just another phase and trust things will come together when we are ready to get a little more serious again??? I really do not care about the mistakes it is just feeling so disconnected with my dog when I am running that makes me sad.

Friday, December 18, 2009

So sorry little fairies but I just am not coordinated...

Well, the holiday season marches on. Our house is really small and with all the crates, the big xpen for Cricket, and everyone being home for a few weeks, I was trying to figure out a way to have a Christmas tree that was safe and did not take up too much room. I got a 4 1/2 foot tree and put it on the kitchen table! Seemed like a great compromise, I rigged up some pvc to thread the plug through so it seemed pretty safe from the puppy, the wild wrestling border collies and the kids running through the house. Of course as I am patting myself on the back and thinking I had thought of everything and I was soooo smart, I turn around and not five minutes after the tree went up I found Kimmie the cat trying to climb up the tree, ahhhhhh....well, it is close to a perfect solution, LOL.

I have very SAD news to report, LOL, I took little Miss Cricket to Breeze's class yesterday, and as we went into the agility field I think the fairies were dropping like flies. It was a sad few minutes for the fairies. hahahahahahah. (I had seen a blog where they said to think every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash a fairy dies, well, bad time for the fairies). I thought I could walk with Cricket on a leash walking in, carrying her crate and clicking and getting out treats. Well, I am not as coordinated as I thought, and so I just could not find the right hands, and everything was falling and Cricket was just so excited to get in and say hello, that there was a lot of tight leash going on. OOOH well, she was on her harness, so it was not a total loss and when we left the yard and when I took her and walked around the yard we were safe guarding the fairies then, and she did marvelously. The great news is that I was able to let Cricket run around a lot more this week, it was more relaxed and she did get to meet a poodle mix, an aussie, a papillon and a spaniel mix and she was eager to see them all. Actually Cricket was way bouncey and in their face and I am pretty surprised no one told her to back off a little bit. The aussie she met had not seen puppies before and Cricket was really wanting him to play and he just stood still trying to figure out what the deal was, LOL, we had some nice doggies to say Hi to yesterday. I was so proud of my little ball of fluff, she was sure everyone in that class was her best buddie-she still is showing no shyness or fear. Cricket spent some time exploring all the equipment then ran through the big long tunnel before I could get her, but she was fine and ready to do it again. I am not sure if she had been through tunnels at Hillcrest, but I have not had her through any here, so I was pretty impressed with that. I put little Cricket in her crate while I ran Breeze and covered the crate, gave her a peanut butter kong and she did fine. I was also working on Look at That when the big dogs would run by her because the movement does get her pretty excited, and she loves that game.

Yesterday was the bonus class for Breeze's Handlers 2 class. When people come and set up the class equipment for Deanna's classes you get a token and if you have six tokens at the end of classes you are able to come to a bonus class. The bonus class usually is a fun course and we just get to run a nice full course that incorporates some of the things we have learned in the previous class.

WHAT CAN I SAY? Last week we had the hardest course....and we aced it. This week I walked this course and thought it looked sooo easy, I was not too worried about it. Of course you know that means we mucked the whole thing up, LOL.

I was very happy with my opening and tried to stand basically by the tunnel entrance and then sent Breeze over one and two (like a pinwheel sort of), then rear crossed the tunnel and thought if I was way far back like that, and just moved up I could change Breezes line to nicely go into the tunnel. Well, as Breeze SHOT out the tunnel she just knew she would do the aframe and sort of barely glanced at me. The second time I tried that I tried basically an RFP to get her to move back and pulled her way too far back, and was way late, ahhhhh...and it looked so easy when I walked it.

Going to the double before the dogwalk, I usually am very quiet when I run but decided to give a GO OVER and the rear cross to get her out and turning for the dog walk. Well, I usually don't talk and Breeze was headed for that jump and doing marvelously until I used my verbals, she totally thought something must be wrong and almost stopped. Then I had to get her going again and over the jump, hummm, good thing to take note of in the future.

My dogwalk contact has been not looking so good again, so I stuck a toy at the end on the ground and Breeze was going to whiz by the contact and saw the toy at the last minute and almost went tail over tea kettle trying to stop. Poor dog with her hips dysplasia she just does not have the rear end strength for some things. I will have to be baiting the contact a little more often I think.

Weave entries have been a problem and this was training so I took out the middle poles, so there was two sets of four poles. If Breeze caught the entry I wanted to be able to reward it and not take a chance on her making any other mistakes so I could not reward...anyway, she caught both entries, YIPPIE.

Breeze jumped on the table and skidded off, there are some good clean run exercises to proof the table and help dogs figure out how to stick it, so we are going to work on those this vacation.

The last part we had a problem was a part that another dog had the same issues with and that was the tunnel to the second to last jump YIKES. Another part I did not expect a problem and what happened is that Breeze time and again BLASTED out of the tunnel and looks for the next thing, by the time she checked in with me she was way beyond the jump, she went around it every time until the last time. Breeze has this blastie thing coming out of tunnels that I was not aware of, but this course really brought it out at the start of the course and the end, so another good awareness for me.

So a lot of good things to work on and a lot of challenges for a course that I just thought was a no brainer when I walked it, .......Anyway, a lot of fun-Deanna always has the best classes and the best courses!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More training levels

Cricket has been doing great and I really am LOVIN' the Training levels. This has been what we have been working on. I did not include the Zen, Watch, Loose Leash and Crate,sit and down but she is doing great on those. We still need to do the Stand, Stand Stay, Sit Stay-

On the topic of Loose Leash walking, my whole theory with that is that I am trying to teach Cricket to loosten the leash when she feels it tighten. My lofty goal is to never let her get where she wants when she is pulling on the collar. There are going to be times when I might not be able to work it like I would like, and for those times I am going to try to make sure she is on a harness, so if she inadvertantly gets where she wants to go and has pulled it will not be as bad as if she pulls and gets where she wants to go on the collar. I was researching different ideas on how to make this happen and I ran across the cutest post from Positive Petzine he has a saying that I think is very cute and as silly as it sounds when I have Cricket on a leash I remember:

Remember-every time your dog gets somewhere on a tight leash A FAIRY DIES AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT, Think of the fairies,

LOL, talk about pressure to be consistent, LOL. Starting on Level 2 there are instructions for teaching loose leash walking, it sure has to be easier to teach this to a young puppy then it will be to rehab Breeze who has been rewarded for pulling for years and thinks that is the correct behavior-hummm, wonder whose fault that is???

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dog Play DVD by Patricia McConnell, Ph.D.

I love agility, but more then that I have to say I LOVE watching dogs and I really enjoy learning about dog behavior. I have not got to any really good behavior seminars recently and in the past I have been to some really good ones, so I was excited to get Patricia McConnell, Ph.D. lecture on DVD from Clean Run, entitled Dog Play-Understanding play between dogs and between dogs and people. This was taped at a recent seminar she gave and included a lot of terrific video of dogs playing. I really liked the DVD and feel like there was lots of excellent information presented-and I found it fun to snuggle in and to learn more about just plain old dog behavior.

Patricia goes over reasons for play, why play is important and then she started talking about dog-dog play. Some of the interesting things that she talked about was the research showing that dogs will pick and enjoy playing with certain dogs over a lifetime, not just any dog, they will pick some dogs they like to play with and it is good for them to have their doggie playmates. Interesting.

Some signs of healthy play between dogs:
SELF HANDICAPPING-with healthy dog play the stronger dog will alter their play to suit the weaker dog. I have seen this with Lizzie and Cricket, Lizzie does not tug as hard as she normally does and she plays softer and easier when she plays with Cricket. An older dog will often play softer and do things to teach the younger dog to play,pretty cool stuff. Patricia showed some video of a puppy of hers playing with an older dog and how the older dog was more careful playing with the pup, then she had video of the pup all grown up and very strong, the older dog was then 15 yrs old and you could see how now the younger dog was the one self handicapping so they could play and everyone could be safe and comfortable.

OPEN MOUTHED-when dogs are relaxed and playing you will see open mouths and relaxed faces, when the mouth tenses and you see more teeth and their faces tense and mouths close then you should be watching.

LOW LOOSE TAILS-these show relaxed dogs playing for most dogs.

EMOTIONAL CONTROL-neither dog gets over the top

LOTS OF PAUSES-when dogs are playing nicely they take a lot of breaks and just pause for a few seconds-when there are no pauses you need to watch what is going on.

EXAGGERATED AND LATERAL MOVEMENTS-the dogs move in side ways ways, and their back ends go faster then the front, they go back and forth going to the sides

BITE INHIBITION-goes without saying the dogs are gentle and don't bite too hard and don't hold on too long


Little or no pausing in play
Little or no self handicapping
increasing arousal
one dog is attempting to terminate play
one dog dominates the other, does not let the other dog rest, inhibits the dogs freedom of movement
Change in vocalizations-lower pitch, higher pitch, louder
bully behavior

Also when looking at play you need to factor in the age of the dogs. Young puppies engage in a lot of rude play and learn how to play nicely as they mature.

RECOGNIZE HEALTHY PLAY-understand what is normal

KNOW THE SIGNS OF OVER AROUSAL-no pauses, teeth flashing, vocalization intensifying

THE DOG SHOULD MASTER ONE CUE-a back, a leave it, a down--One thing you dog does NO MATTER WHAT. Patricia really does not recommend a COME as much because that is a complex behavior and the dog would need to stop, turn around, think to come, and she would rather have like a down where the dog just drops. you CAN BODY BLOCK IF YOU NEED TO GET THE DOGS SEPARATED. DO NOT sit and stare at them, or hold your breath or get tense because that will escalate things.

ONCE YOU HAVE DOGS ATTENTION TURN AWAY AND GO ON A WALK-give a treat if that is not going to escalate things, give dog the toy, and get the dogs attention off things and walk away, put a lot of distance between you and the situation.


The last part of the DVD Patricia talks about play between dogs and people. Patricia talks about the type of play that works with your dog. of course she talks about some of the benefits of play with your dog that include...
Strengthening your bond
Play Often involves healthy mental/physical exercises, and tricks can fall in the play category
You can use play to teach emotional control and frustration tolerance
Play helps manage multi-dog households
Play is fun
Play can be used to solve behavior problems.
Patricia does show how you can use play behaviors to teach these things, and I found that part of the seminar very good.

Patricia showed a dog she had that was severely dog aggressive at 7 weeks, and she shows how she uses play to calm him down and at 2 yrs old he looked great with other dogs, she would let him see another dog and then throw him his toy, let them sort of say hi, and throw his toy, building all sorts of associations between other dogs and relaxation and play. It was pretty neat to see.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cricket and the box video

I shaped Cricket to climb in a box and then sit down. Check out about 30 seconds in when she sort of misses her back leg, LOL.

Friday, December 11, 2009


This is the harness I have for Lizzie and Breeze, although Breeze has now outgrown hers at 3 yrs old-what is up with that??? I like that it gives a nice range of movement, they are easy to put on and super, super soft. Clean Run sells these and right now they are the same price as Oregon Pet Supply, and Clean Run has free shipping, Oregon Pet Supply has a $5 flat rate for shipping. The one thing I like about Oregon Pet Supply is that they have more COLORS. I am thinking of doing the hot pink or the wine to replace Breeze's harness...although the kids both want her to get a blue.
Walkeez Fleece Lined Dog Harness

Give your pets the comfort they deserve!
The Walkeez Fleece Lined Dog Harness is designed in England and hand crafted in Canada. Every part of the harness is covered in top quality fleece, even the girth strap. The fleece padding makes the harness straps wide and comfortable for your pet to wear, distributing your pet’s weight over a wide area and thus preventing rubbing.

The Walkeez Harness comes in 8 sizes. It is fully adjustable and machine washable on a low temperature (do not tumble dry). The fleece on the girth strap is black to match the webbing, the rest of the fleece on the harness comes in 10 different trendy colors!


I was VERY happy with my other harnesses, but then I got this one and I really like it a LOT. I got Cricket a harness because I do not want to ever have her pulling on the leash with a regular collar, so when I am walking her and do not want to mess with working to keep her from pulling or I do not have time then I will keep the harness on. I have some lofty hopes of a dog that walks nicely on a can all laugh in a year when Cricket is pulling me everywhere. So the Harness I got her just came in and I really, really like it, and it is cheaper. I really like the range of movement and she walks really nice with it....I got this one from Clean Run It is the Sports Flex harness. It is nicely padded, not the soft fleecy material but it is a nice padding and the front band reflects light at night. It is VERY easy to put on and off.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Object discrimination and start lines were on the work order for Breeze tonight...

It was the last regular class for Breeze's handling 2 class before the winter break. There will be one more bonus class for people that helped with set up, but then we will be on our own for a few months. This was a very fun course, with a lot of object discrimination. Deanna said this course was based on a Rhonda Carter exercise, and it was one that she used to see if her students were ready to trial. I had the worse migraine when I went to class, and I started walking this course and I was so mixed up. Deanna had said we would be breaking it into three parts and I ASSUMED that we would just do a part first, and my head hurt. and I am almost always last to I did not know how well I had the course memorized, and I was not too worried about it. Of course we ran the whole course first, and Deanna said she would like me to go first, LOL. The first time I ran it I surprised myself by remembering and I got to the aframe contact between I think 14-15 and all of a sudden thought I must be lost because surely I can not be to this part in the course already, LOL. We ran the course the first time with absolutely no mistakes, except the weave entry (Breeze went in on the second pole because she did not tap the breaks enough to get into the first pole). Anyway, wow, object discrimination is not always our strong point, but Breeze did GREAT today-I was so proud of her.

Today was the day I had to be consistent and draw the hard line. Breeze is getting more and more excited and more fast and pushing the limits a bit. So the first time we ran the course she held her start line. The second time we did a part of the course she got up and started running, I stopped and put her back, she got up again so I looked at Deanna and said WE ARE DONE. I took Breeze back to the crate. This did not make much of an impression on Breeze, she had a look like humm, that was a weird short course, but what ever......I was prepared to just be done for that exercise, but Deanna said I could go and try again after the next dog ran. Deanna is so wonderful, I love her. After the next dog, I took Breeze out to the start line, I walked out and again she raced up to me. I once again said, Thanks, we are done, and walked quietly back to the crate. About that time I was wondering if Breeze was going to get it. Deanna tells the class the record of someone having to do that was 17 times before the dog really got the idea, I had some shivers going down my spine at that moment. The next dog ran and we walked out again....this time Breeze almost let me get out into position and I once again headed to the crate. This time Breeze had such a look on her face like what the heck is going on? When I put her in the crate she sat at the front and seemed to study the dog running, and I swear I could see wheels turning in her head trying to figure out what the deal was. So when this dog was done I went out AGAIN and put her on the start line, walked out with confidence, because I had a plan.....this time I saw her stand up and just stand looking at me, I gave her a second and said down,....she laid down with her butt in the air, I still just looked....she laid down and so I released her. YIPPIE. Next turn she went out and laid down at the start line and did not budge.

I have had some trouble with Breeze feeling stressed at the start line before, so I made sure not to be mad or seem too concerned, I did not say anything, I handled it as quietly as I could but she did not get HER ultimate reward of running. I am sure the problem is not fixed totally yet, but I do think I made things clear for Breeze today which I hope will also help so she does not stress because she will know exactly what I want, so it will not be grey for her. I just had a feeling we were getting to a point with Breeze and her excitement level and if she does not totally understand the rules would be a lot harder soon as she pushed the line more and more. I felt so horrible doing that to my class mates and taking the extra time but Deanna was great and said everyone of these people in the class will face this type of thing one day and taking care of these things is way more important then any sequence, so I think she was proud of me for doing that, did I tell you I absolutely love Deanna?

I also introduced Cricket to the manners minder. I love the manners minder-but had not thought of introducing it to Cricket yet. Some dogs can take awhile to get used to the noise of the beep, and the motor turning and then the food spitting out. I had read a post by Crickets Breeder where she introduced some of her dogs to the manners minder so of course I had to try it during a commercial in Survivor tonight...Cricket just seems to have no fear, what a cool puppy, she sort of stood back and looked for the first few beeps then she was just not wanting to look away. Tomorrow I will try to do some targeting to a stick and moving away from the manners minder then going back for her treat. I love the manners minder for teaching mat behavior and we have been working on mats, so it might be fun to add the two together. Today I had a blast putting a few baby gates on their sides, and some old wire crate fronts, and as many weird textures to walk on as I could find -we put them down the hall way and then had all the dogs walking on them, poor Cricket, she is probably wondering what type of house she has ended up at, but she did look like she had fun! Socializing puppies to lots of things is hard work, so it is a good thing they are so cute to watch so the socializing is fun, LOL

Doggie Disneyland

Yesterday I had to go get Crickets second shot, I went to a clinic about an hour away because that is the only place I could find the parvo/distemper combo only shot, and since that was half way to the Contact Point Ranch where I take herding lessons, I decided to see if I could go down and practice some herding. The great thing about going there is it is in the middle of a big orange grove a very pretty place to walk in, there is an awesome agility yard, there are the sheep to do herding with and there is a creek/river where the dogs can swim. There is a little something for everyone. So Liz got to do some herding, I took Breeze over to the agility yard where they had the pairs relay competition still all set up-so we worked on that course, and there is a huge fenced agility yard where Cricket could work with me on recalls and attention and just explore. The kids of course ran around and played by the stream. There were even some adorable little baby lambs 1-2weeks old-they are so sweet.

Finding Breeze doing a four on the floor on the dog walk is NOT a happy thing, but there it was again while I was practicing yesterday. I origionally taught a four on the floor on the dog walk and Aframe, but because Breeze was having so much trouble not falling off the dogwalk, and has hurt herself in the past, I felt like I wanted somthing that would help her focus her head forward more, and keep her paying attention and doing a slight breaking at the end. So months later we had a 2020, it was not easy but it was looking pretty good. The last two trials she was finally able to do a dog walk in trial and I felt comfortable that she was safe....and she did her 2o2o. The last run at the last trial she sort of bounced off the end of the dog walk, it was our last obstacle and the Q was in sight, but I went back and fixed it, hoping to make it clear to her what I wanted. Anyway, in practice yesterday she was totally back thinking we are doing a four on the floor on the dog walk. UGHGHGHGHGHGHGHGHHGHG. Durn it! So I am going to go back and work it again and hopefully this time she will figure it out quicker, but I think for the rest of her career I am going to be fighting the four on the floor because that is what she learned first, and since she is still doing the four on the floor on the Aframe...yep, think this is something we will be revisiting for a long time. The rest of the course had some good challenges and Breeze was just AWESOME, if only we could get those weave entries at speed and the dog walk contact thing taken care of....Well, always good to have something to work on.

It was a big day for me, I went to practice herding for the first time by myself. I got to the big round pen and lo and behold it had a HUGE water puddle in it, similar to how my back yard was looking, LOL. I can not get away from the big water puddle/lakes. Luckily for me sheep do not seem to like going into the water, or at least these sheep didnt, so Lizzie kept trying to run through the water, she was loving it, but the sheep stayed out of it so I did not end up having to risk slipping in the water. Robin my instructor had shown me how to get the sheep out of the holding pen and it sounded so easy when she told me about how to do it, but getting there and seeing those four sheep, that seemed so big, and I was sure I was going to let them out where I would have to figure out how to get them back into their pen, and to be truthful Liz would not be any help if they got loose, LOL. Anyway, after I got them in the pen I spied another gate so I guess we were in no danger of the sheep getting out, but at the time I thought for sure I was going to let them go! It has been almost a month since Liz did any herding and since I the first run was AWEFUL. Liz was so excited so she did a lot more gripping then I have seen before and she just was trying to chase the sheep, I was nervous and I was totally not doing what I was supposed to, YIKES. The second time we went out, I snapped into our little dance, and Lizzie just did better then I have ever seen her do, it was actually very nice. The third time was sort of a train wreck, and Liz was just acting tired. Of course as usual I should have stopped on a good note and not tried for another turn. I got the sheep back into the holding pen without incident, so if nothing else I am going to be a good sheep herder!!! hahahahahahahah. I am so proud of myself, LOL.

Cricket was such a good girl and had a blast running through the agility yard and practicing her recalls. I was also letting her run and explore and just clicking when she would look at me, then she would come running, LOL, she is so cute.

The shot clinic was a SCARY place. YIKES. It took 2 hours of sitting to get in. There was a scared puppy, just a tiny thing sitting on the floor who had a leash wrapped around his neck, he did not even have a collar. He was scared and would bark at the other dogs, and the owner would take and tie his mouth with the leash, or he would slap the dog with the leash, or he would yank him back when he tried to look at any other dogs. Like this guy could write a book about how to make a puppy fear aggressive. Then there was the HUGE pitbull that needed a muzzle and I felt better about that owner because she was controlling the dog but it was such a small area to have all these dogs shoved into. The most fun was the chihuaua who was peeing on EVERYTHING, a little unneutered male who was marking willey nilley. The owner sat down next to me and the dog kept trying to get at Cricket who was in her crate. I kept moving my crate further and further and putting my legs inbetween this dog and my crate.....and of course the owner kept letting the dog keep going to poor Cricket. I hope my dog was not infected with something while she was sitting and waiting for her shot so she will not get sick ;-). By the time they started calling out people who had come way after me, all my shyness faded as I SCREAMED across the room, WHAT ABOUT CRICKET, she should have went a few dogs ago. Turns out they have never even written her down, ughghghghg, so good thing I said something, but I suprised even myself, but I was so worried about sitting there so long with my poor puppy.

WEIRDEST THING OF THE DAY: I went to get Breeze out and put on her harness, I have an awesome harness that I LOVE. Well, my 3 year old dog seems to have really grown the last few months. Not weight wise but her chest sort of got deeper and she looks more mature. AT THREE YEARS OLD. Who would think she would not be long done growing. Anyway, we are now in the market for a new harness since the current one will not fit at all, guess Cricket has her next harness for when she outgrows her present one.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rainy So. California

I am sorry, I feel like a new mom that makes everyone look at my pictures, LOL, but I love watching Cricket. On top of that we have had storms, and so I have not been able to do much agility, I need to go out and work with Breeze and some 2x2 entries, but it is so cold,....and our herding lesson got cancelled yesterday because of the I grabbed a video of how Cricket reacted to the lake in the back yard after the rainstorm. Of course our yard is the desert landscaping....SAND and DIRT, LOL, and I have a lot of toys out there that I picked up at yard sales for Cricket to run up and over and through-so we could use a back yard makeover, but it works!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Saturday playing with leaves, what could be more fun if you are a puppy?

I was on the look out for kids to socialize Cricket with. I took her to hubby's tennis lessons because he has younger kids taking lessons before this class on the video. Cricket LOVES leaves, so she was very happy to see the courts had a lot of leaves blowing around. It was just so much fun to watch her running around and just being so happy in the moment, puppies have a lot to teach about enjoying the moment-it was just fun to sit and watch her ;-).....

I got Skyler's thyroid results back, his first test had shown a very low thyroid level, so we started medication about 6 weeks ago. It was time to see how his levels were doing...and lo and behold his levels were really, really time to cut back on his thyroid dose.

Poor Skyler still looks like crap, his hair is still thin and he has this leathery skin that is peeling in chunks-it is weird, and his hair is all dry, some of his hair even turned brown but he lost 5 pounds in six weeks on the thyroid and the fat pads over his eye that made his face look rounder are gone so his face looks like his old self. He has been following me everywhere and constantly wanting to do clicker training, so guess that might be the high thyroid levels. Poor guy first he felt so yucky with no thyroid he could hardly wake up, and now he is zinging, LOL, so hopefully the new dose will even it all out.

I also had Lizzie's blood sent out to check and everything looks great with her. I have faith in my raw diet I feed, but it has been a happy thing to see that even with an objective measurement of a blood test, looks like everyone is doing terrific. I am getting to be quite the pro at getting the blood drawn, packed and sent off because I have used Dr. Dodds Hemopet/Hemolife lab-

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blogs can really make you think!

I got up and was reading blogs this morning and saw some that really made me think about my dogs, and me. My goal is first and foremost to enjoy my life and my dogs, and dog training is a hobby and something I enjoy so getting angry and frustrated and pushing for something my dog is not yet capable of does not seem to fit with my first priority. I have worked really hard and the one thing Liz has really helped me with is to ENJOY THE JOURNEY, pushing it too hard does not get you there faster and sure does not make it fun. These two blogs really spoke to me this morning, so I wanted to share them. The first video is about a dog who did not measure up in the service assistance program but thank heavens she had a great trainer that was able to adjust and use her special talents.

I saw this video on Susan Garretts blog, she said she feels this video " It is about gratitude, it is about the love of dogs and it is about allowing your dog to communicate with you."

I totally agree with that, but I also think it is about accepting our dogs are dogs and they all have their special talents. I always try to remember that my dogs were not born knowing or loving agility or tricks, or anything else I would like them to know so of course it is my job to find the things that make it fun and motivating for them, and if they are not totally cut out for some things then it is not a defect in them, it could be my training or just something that is hard for them, or they have not been given enough tools that they really feel confident and find it rewarding.


My little Lizzie is a dog that has really brought this whole concept of appreciating what you have home to me. I picked her out as a puppy to eventually trial in agility and she is a dog that handles her stress in a way that has taken a lot of time for her to mature enough to handle the training, it has taken a lot of work, and it has not always been easy to sit back and relax and just enjoy who she is-and there are days I have done better at that then others, I get trapped in my own wants like everyone else for sure. Training Lizzie has not turned out to be the path I thought I was getting on when we started on all of this-there have been a way more twists and turns and a lot of learning I have had to do. I am VERY proud of what we have accomplished because nothing feels like it came easy for Liz and me, not like training Breeze, who has always felt pretty easy to train and to understand-she is an easy dog, LOL, and with Liz at each step of the way I had no clue how we would get to the next level,and there was many a day I was frustrated and just wanted a "easy" dog, and who cares how much personality they had? LOL....but time, and patience and wha laaa, something would happen and she was able to do more then I had imagined. I have to say having to work harder for each thing has made me appreciate each step so much more then I probably would have working with any other dog, hahaha. She just completed her first ever agility class series-HANDLERS plus-and she worked great, it was not always beautiful but she was able to complete the class-and it was a fairly challenging class level. I am so proud of Liz. I have tried and sometimes it has been work to respect and listen to what my dog tells me, and by very gently pushing the limits I have also found the type of friend and companion in my dog that I might never have dreamed was there. I think by respecting what she told me she was capable of I have also saved myself a lot of frustration with her and myself by not pushing for things that were just beyond the level she was at - and I have achieved way more then I would have if I pushed for everything all at once. I have also learned so much about myself and developed more patience and faith, and it is helped me dealing with a lot of people too. I think the sky is the limit for Liz, but if not she is already the best dog I have ever owned. It really does not matter if she ever lives up to anyone elses expectations of her because she more then lives up to mine, even if my goals have had to change over time, LOL, but hey that is life isn't it? That is what makes it fun and exciting. I have to tell you I am really so happy and proud of Lizzie, and the more time goes on the more I can truly say I do not care if other people share my opinion of the situation, LOL. I do not want anyone to misunderstand and think I am saying I was always so patient because all this acceptance has not been easy and like I said I have done better some days then others but I can truly say that I have found peace with accepting and being grateful for what ever happens with Liz, not sure where our journey will lead but I am determined to do my best to make it a fun journey.

Also if you get time check out what my friend Tammy says on her Livejournal about what we expect of dogs. Tammy says- "We ask our dogs to be so many things. We ask them to be our companions, our friends, our family members, to be well mannered, well trained, well behaved, to perform on cue, and in some extreme cases to be an extension of who we are. This is a lot of pressure to put on an animal that really only knows how to be a dog. I think many of us forget that we live with animals that would rather roll in shit, eat underwear, growl at the dog next to them, than to do our bidding." I hope some people can read her post as I found it very interesting-and I tried to link to it, but with LiveJournal you have to be friended to someone for them to see the whole post. Tammy is a very wise trainer, and a super terrific dog owner, and a very nice person. Anyway, thinking about what we expect from dogs seems to be a theme of the day, LOL.

ON another side note there was another big event at the bordergirlsmoms house today. Little Cricket had the "tag" ceremony. I got her a cute little "spiffy dog" collar, one that matched Lizzie's and Breeze's href="">< we got the yellow dots. So it is so cute with all the girls with matching collars. I also got a little tag for Crickets collar-with her name and our phone numbers. It sounds stupid but when I put my new tag on my dogs it always reminds me of Lady and the Tramp, when the Tramp gets his collar and license. A tangible way to tell everyone this is my puppy and this is his home. Silly as it sounds it is a ceremony of sorts, the collar and the tag just seems like a tangible sign that this dog is a part of our pack now. When you think of it from that day forward, in this house anyway, every dog always has a collar with a tag, until the day the vet, or who ever removes them and gives them to us when our pet goes to the rainbow bridge. My daughters have the tag and collar hanging from Madison, our last dog that passed, hanging off her bed in remembrance. So Cricket, WELCOME again and hopefully as she moves forward in her life I will always try to remember to treasure her uniqueness and be open to the gifts I know we will find in her, and I will promise to try to always respect who she is and not just who I want her to be. Maybe someone can slap me if I stray too far off the path and am not sticking true to what my ideals for pet ownership are.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What we have been up to the last few days...

Miss Cricket is really settling in and acting like she is right at home-which she is! She is tugging with Lizzie, and Lizzie is the perfect doggie puppy raiser, she tugs with her but does not pull too hard and lets little Cricket know when she is getting out of line. Lizzie taught Cricket to jump into the rocking chair then jump to Skyler's crate so she can look out the window, I can not believe she figured that out. Cricket has a new little game where she grabs all the toys she can find and takes them under the rocking chair and then sits and plays, it is too cute, but of course she picked the rocking chair which means everyone has to be careful not to rock when she is there.

The other place everyone looks for the toys now is the Xpen which has been set up as a playpen in the kitchen for when I can not watch her for a few minutes or if we leave the house. I have a crate without the door in there and I try to put the chew toys that are really not for the other dogs, and she gets some good bones to chew on if she has to be in there while we leave, and that is where we feed her, so of course that is on every dogs list of places to look for treasures now. This morning I put Cricket in the xpen and went to take a shower, I heard a lot of playing and I thought hummm, those dogs are having a good time, who is that? I thought for a second and sure enough I had let the others outside, so....I opened the shower curtain and there was CRICKET. She was sooo proud of herself, and so happy she had got out of the xpen (which she knows was just a terrible mistake that she got latched into there, and she was so happy she could fix that problem). So now there are snap locks that have to go on the xpen if we are going out, LOL. Little monkey had figured out how to bounce against the side in the right area and that unlocks the bottom enough that she can get an opening to get through.

These are some of the cutest things Crickie is doing. I just could watch her all day, she is so cute... she carries around toys, she always wants a toy in her mouth, none of my dogs have done that before and I think it is sooo cute. She just wants to follow me around everywhere, she sure makes me feel wanted. A new thing that is happening is Crick's ears move around a lot the last few days, I was trying to get a picture but I have not been able to catch them-sometimes they are way high on her head and half up, and sometimes way over on the side hanging down, rarely are both ears doing the same thing, so her face just looks so different depending on where her ears are at the moment. Another thing she is doing is she makes this whooo hoooo roooo sound ALL THE TIME. Since she is feeling more comfy she makes those noises when ever she is at all excited, and she can do the sounds with the toys in her mouth. Another thing I really notice about her is that she is climbing on EVERYTHING. She has no fear, and thinks the place Breeze usually lays on the couch is hers, when she goes out back the first thing she does is go climb on all the toys, baby dog walk, boards, anything she can find. It is like she loves being high up, or exploring???

We are working on the behaviors from the last training level, increasing the difficulty, we added in GO OUT, which we are using a trash can, and she is doing that really well in my bedroom on command but she was confused once I moved that to the living room. Our first totally shaped trick is going to the mat and laying down -she is doing that really well, and I am putting a command on that. That trick I have been able to move that around to some different places, and we are working on our first trick-waving her foot.

I took Cricket to Liz class on Monday night for some socialization and she wanted to say HI to everyone and was a very good girl, except when I went to run Liz, of course Cricket has already decided there is no reason for any other dog to work with me, so she started fussing and digging-poor girl got put into her crate with a cover over it when she almost dug out of the xpen at class. Liz says not only can baby dogs do tricks, she has been working on one:

So Cricket is not the only dog working around here. Liz did her class on Monday night and we ran an ISC course. ISC courses are courses that people run to qualify for the world teams, they are courses that are designed more like the European agility courses. So this was a course with a lot of speed, tons of speed. Liz is getting sooo fast, I totally did not have a great plan because I underestimated how fast she would be, and when I fell behind at the end it really frustrated Liz and she took off-like left the course, ahhhh, Lizzie. The amazing thing was I was able to get her back working, but she has such a low frustration threshold and when she left the course she ran over to sniff, just totally a stressed behavior.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Training Levels, Level 1 test

Since it is the start of the holiday season there are virtually no puppy classes starting until after the holidays. This happened when I got Breeze too since I got her at the same time of the year, sooooooo, it is PUPPY HOMESCHOOLING. I am taking her to classes and making everyone say hello, and exposing her to the nice doggies I can find, and I started on one of the greatest training programs I have found on the net ......and it is FREE.

There is a yahoo group called Training Levels support . There is also a site with a description of the levels and the testing for each level and how to teach the behaviors at

The training levels use clicker training and positive reinforcement to teach everything a dog needs to have a foundation for dog sports or to just be a wonderful companion. If you pass level 3-that is generally what your dog needs to be a wonderful companion and very nice to have around. If you reach level 7 they say it only takes about a months work in your desired area to be ready for trialing, because there is a little scenting/a little agility/some obedience all built into the levels. The yahoo group can also answer questions and help support you in your quest to work with your dog ;-).

OF course I think the most important thing about training your dog is the bond you develops with them, how you get in tune with how they think, and it makes them so much more pleasant to be around and I think clicker training really trains them how to think.

So today we did the test for Level 1-Cricket is 10 weeks and gosh I can not believe how much she has learned in the short time she has been here. I do have to say that she learned crate training and some sit and come before she came, so I got a real head start, or maybe I was cheating?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Getting to know you....

I am having the most fun today, my two legged kids went with their grandma to shop for clothes and I have had all morning to just sit and play with the pup. I started off the morning going to Petsmart and getting a bunch of chew toys-those little needle sharp puppy teeth need something besides my pants to chew on...and we worked on some come games, and sits and downs and Its your Choice game from Susan Garrett (I think that is what this game is called?)-she is getting the idea that when I hold some treats in my fist she can get them by moving away from them, smart Cricket! Cricket has not totally figured out she has a new name yet, but I have been saying it and clicking followed by a treat so she is starting to figure out Cricket has something to do with her.

I am soooo proud of all my doggies, they are all being FANTASTIC with her. Liz has been doing some tugging with her, she loves Liz, Liz moves fast and what is there for a puppy not to like? Breeze will sort of do a little mouth wrestling with her and is fine with Cricket following her around. Chloe is sort of excited there is someone that is willing to PLAY with her and Skyler is ok with her following him but is not pleased when she keeps trying to lick his muzzle.

It has been nice to have a full morning to just sit and get to know each other more without a list of things we want to accomplish. Cric is still pretty perfect, a lot more wild, and starting to do the zoomies once in awhile but still by far the easiest puppy!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How Lucky am I on this Thanksgiving day?

I am thankful we have a day that is just made for pausing for a minute and concentrating on all the things we all have to be thankful for. So corney as it is, I want to list a few of those things ;-). Since this is my dog blog, I of course am concentrating a little heavier on my list that involves my puppers.

I am thankful for my family of course-my kids are people I am very proud of and I am so lucky they are in my life.

I am thankful for my puppy dogs, they are always there to cuddle and they have helped me learn how to more effectively communicate with other people-the ideas behind clicker training and motivation can work in a lot of ways and don't just work for dogs... Mostly they have taught me a lot about myself-soooo much about myself and that is probably the biggest thing they have given me. What ever we will ever achieve in any competition is such a small thing when you look at all we have achieved already in the more important things, learning about how to effectively communicate, learning about love, learning about patience, learning about how to overcome frustration, learning about prioritizing, how many lessons have I learned from my little fur babies? No blue ribbon could compare with those type of presents.

SKYLER-My tri-colored sheltie is my oldest doggie at 7 yrs old. I got him at about 6 months old, he had parvo as a tiny pup and no one wanted him because of that. I think he came from a dad that was a very fearful dog and then having parvo treatment, needles, and being hospitalized at a very critical time in his socialization left him with a lot of issues. I always was so touched by his willingness to trust me enough to try, and to go along with my reactive dog training, and he has made a ton of progress. He really taught me tons about patience. Lately he has gone through a lot of health issues, but he is on the mend and looking a 100% better, so in a few months I think he will be back to his old self.

CHLOE-What a happy little sable sheltie, she has taught me a whole lot about training and patience because she is a soft, sensitive, little doggie so of course I had to consider a lot of that when we were training, so she is my dog that has taught me sooooo much about motivation.

LIZZIE-she came to me as a pup. She was older and had not found a home, maybe because she was so wild, LOL. SHE HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT TRAINING, motivation and consistency, LOL, and most importantly taught me how to Laugh, to laugh at life and not take things too seriously and to laugh at myself. She has also taught me not to get so overwhelmed looking at all there is to do and to just keep chipping away and enjoy the journey and before you know day you look around and see how far things have come. She is my dog that made me a real trainer.

BREEZIE-who has so much heart and who will try for me no matter what she is feeling. She loves agility so much that she will work through what ever-she has taught me about not letting things get you down. What a fun dog she is.

CRICKET-newest little puppers who so far is just given me a few days of seeing the world through a puppies eyes. She cuddles and everything makes her excited. My whole goal for Crickie is going to be to not stress, and to enjoy her puppy hood, to trust I know how to train and to raise a puppy, so just to have fun with her and not worry about trying to raise her perfectly.

I am truly thankful that I have met so many people through my dogs that have been so kind and helpful to me. THANKS so much to all my blogger friends who are always there to lend support, and to remind me that my challenges are not unique, and in seeing their successes they remind me that all things are possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cute as a Bug-call name "Cricket"

Yesterday was my birthday and it was such a terrific day. First off I got a lot of happy birthdays on facebook, and actually that was a lot of fun and I got to spend the day with my puppy. At class last night I got a cook bag of the best popcorn and a wonderful puppy toy and a kong from my training buddy Denise, and that was so nice and such a great suprise.... My kids baked a cake for me and decorated it and even put a picture of a puppy on my cake, they are such good kids! SO ABOUT THIS PUPPY- WELL, she is definately a keeper, I am TOTALLY in LOVE with this pup and she has a name! It was so hard to chose a pup that I had never held and cuddled and that I had just seen over the net. All the things that I was told about how this puppy was raised and about her personality really sounded great....and I got such a good feeling, I did all the research I could, but then I got her home and she is all of that and more. I took little Cric to the vet yesterday and the vet (who would definately tell me exactly what she thinks, she always has in the past...) she was so impressed with this little one. She said she shines from inside and out. Those were her exact words, and she said it is obvious this pup has been exceptionally socialized. How cool is that? She loved her structure and said she was very nicely balanced, and had the perfect weight for her body-she is 11 lbs. So Cricket got the big old stamp of approval form my holistic vet.

We still have just had one accident, when hubby was watching her, so I suspect that was not her was that she tried to tell him and he did not pay attention. She sleeps through the night, she loves to explore, tug and fetch, she is getting along with all the dogs and listening when they correct her but she does not get too upset when they tell her what is expected, she is terrific with the kids. Who could believe the first few days could be as easy as they have been?

Cricket talks all the time. When we come in from outside or when she gets excited she goes whooo hoooo, and talks. That is just too cute. She also is much more into tugging and retrieving soft toys then balls. I have figured out that she likes the huge big doggie balls much better then the tiny little squeeky tennis balls I got that I had thought would fit her mouth right now so much better then the big balls, but she says those little tennis balls are for babies.

I am so proud of how my pack is handling everything, they are doing terrific and do tell her when she is getting rude, but seems to be with just the right amount to let Cric know they are serious, but not enough to really scare her.

I took Cricket to Lizzies class last night and she was so good, Liz was barking and fussing in her crate, but the baby was a good girl. Everyone had to come and say HI, and Cricket was not at all shy, which was great because it was cold and people were wearing hats, gloves, face masks, parkas, and she took it all in stride. She does not seem to be just a total kamakazee without regard, but she will just sort of look at something if she is not sure and try it anyway, and then go after it big time, she really does not seem to be scared of anything yet, and the toy drive is just so awesome.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our first day....could it really be this easy?

I will just get to the good part about my new puppy: SHE IS FANTASTIC!!! I know that it takes a few days/weeks for a dog to settle in and to really see their whole personality as they settle in, but OMG, this is one fantastic little girl. I do have to say this has been the easiest first 24 hours I have had with any of my puppies. It is obvious that my pup has been exposed to a lot of different things because nothing seems to throw her, and it is obvious she is entirely comfortable in a crate and that has made this whole day so easy.

I let the puppers sleep in a crate but I put it on my bed, so I could see her and she could see me, and the other dogs would understand she is part of our pack now. She got into the crate, made her little nest and went to sleep. She got up twice for a quick pee but then slept until about 8 am. No fussing, no crying because it was her first night in a new home without her birth family, she was perfect. I put her in an xpen with a crate for a nap in the afternoon and she just sat and looked at us and then went to her crate, curled up and took a nap.

As far as potty training, of course I am taking her out after she eats, when she wakes up and after she plays but we passed the first 24 hours with no accidents in the house, whoo hooo! The last two times she needed to potty she even went and sat by the back door. So I am sure we are just lucky and I know there are going to be accidents but we are off to a great start.

Little puppers was tugging and playing within minutes of getting off the plane and has been very playful today. When I took her to the back yard she was running back and forth across the baby dog walk we have on bricks, and she was playing all over the little tykes plastic toys I have for the dogs in the back yard. Nothing seems to throw her yet.

So things are going really well. Liz reacted to the pup by running zoomies, and the pup thought Breeze was her mom because they both have the same coloring, and Breeze wanted to make sure it was known she is not wanting to be a mother ;-). By the end of today everyone was working in a group doing sits and downs, and getting along beautifully. Gosh, it is so weird how easy today went.

I was supposed to be at a seminar today on playing and motivation, but I could not leave the pup-I just wanted to stay home and get to know her.

We still are debating on the name, and I know this little girl will be showing her naughty side soon, and I am looking forward to seeing that too, but gosh so far I am very impressed with how she obviously has been raised. Even though this has been the easiest first 24 hours with a puppy by far, I am still exhausted after the anticipation of getting her and just the whole trip to get her at LAX in the holiday rush hour traffic, it seemed like such a long day and we did not get home until 11pm on Friday.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Looks whats coming TODAY!!!!

This has been a busy couple of days. I had to go and get a bunch of raw food from the place that is very far away so I could get chicken necks which are softer and easier for a small dog to eat. I spent the other evening, the whole evening making some veggie/ground meats mixture of food-enough to last a few weeks. Then I had to go around the house and take away the open trash cans which the dogs are finally old enough that they do not get into the trash and those were replaced with covered trash cans. The toilet paper came off the roll and put in a wooden storage box. Little piles of things had to be cleaned out and put away, little baby gates went up all over the house and the kitchen table got shoved into a corner so the xpen could fit. What could be the cause of such commotion? How about a little ten pound bundle that is expected this evening at the airport. Here is a video of the cause of all this commotion.

I had been on several lists for puppies where the litters just did not end up happening, then I had really liked a little pup from another litter but I really wanted to wait until next summer and so I farted around and lost out on her. I had been ok'd to be put on the list for this litter, but had decided to wait until summer for a pup, and then when she was 8 1/2 weeks old I saw this video of the same pup I had really liked and I loved what I saw. I decided that the timing was not that bad and sometimes you just gotta take a leap and go for it. So I emailed and this little girl was still available, Brittney from Hillcrest said I could have her if I wanted, and here three days later she is flying down to meet us.
The things that I liked about this breeder:
1. she feeds raw
2. her dogs live in the house and she says she has no kennels-Rumor the pups mom lives as a pet/companion
3. The pups seemed to be exposed to other dogs, and I could tell from videos on Brittney's blog that other dogs are allowed to be around pups, which Ian Dunbar says really helps their doggie skills later on.
4. Brittney does the early neuro stimulation protocol with the pups.
5. The pups seemed to be on a lot of surfaces, exposed to a lot of sights, sounds, kept clean, had lots of toys, etc.
6. From everything I could see or tell the dogs all seem to be very fit, kept active and healthy.

Things I liked about this pup from what I have seen:
1. From what I can tell she seems to have a nice activity level-she seems to be pretty active and wild but from what I could tell she does not seem over the top.
2. I love how she focuses on Lori in the video, she wants to play but the game is about playing with the person and she seems pretty focused on it
3. I love how she is tugging, and she retrieves the toy that is bigger then she is.
4. I think she is just as cute as a bug!!!!

It was just weird because things just seemed to work out with getting this dog, so hopefully this is one that is meant to be. She is not the color I was imagining I would get. I have NEVER picked out a pup like this before, I always have driven on down to a litter and picked up and cuddled the available puppies and just picked the one that seemed right. I have never shipped a pup before and I am a little nervous about that....But wish me luck, I am getting ready to head out and go meet my new little friend.

No name as of yet....although everyone I have run my names through has an opinion, LOL. So far I am thinking of Ivy, Twist, Twig, Cricket, Katie or Kellie(my younger daughters nomination and choice)--so any other suggestions would be welcomed, or votes for your favorites.

I am really nervous about having three border collies and two shelties....and training that many dogs, although we have been doing ok so far I think....I am nervous about starting over and the sleep I will lose and having to keep the wires tucked behind things and the toilet paper out of reach.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Front cross rules per Deannas class and other training pearls..

Deanna breaks things down a lot in our class and really teaches why things work or don't, so one of the things she constantly reviews, asks us about, etc... are her rules for the Front Cross, and they usually work mighty fine.

1. You have to be ahead of the dog, if you are several obstacles behind, a front cross is not a good choice ;-) simple but true
2. Keep your eye on the dog-when you do a front cross you need to keep your eye on the dog and make sure you actually picked the dog up when you changed sides, and make sure they read it and are where they need to be.
3. A front cross involves a change of side, you are going to end up on the opposite side of the dog
4. Place your front cross as close to the next obstacle as possible
5. This is the hardest one to actually see sometimes in my opinion, but a Front cross should be placed on a turn or a curve, . Now the thing that can be hard about that is that you have to look at the PATH OF THE DOG and not your path to make sure the front cross is on a turn or a curve. An example of where it could be confusing or hard to see where the front cross should go to place it on a turn or a curve is this exercise below that Deanna uses to show us that. In the first course, the jump where the front cross goes looks like a straight line if you just look at the placement of the jumps, but if you walk the actual path of the DOG you see that it is indeed a curve. So I think that is rather trippy.

Another pearl I got today in class with Breeze was one about your feet placement. I have always just thought well, I know the feet are way important and if your feet are not pointed and committed the right way then of course your dog does not see where you want to go. But I had sort of figured that dogs mainly looked at your upper body, for large dogs and the feet for smaller dogs. ACTUALLY the topic of this class was foot placement, and we ran a bunch of exercises and you were supposed to stop and FREEZE and look at your feet if your dog went off course. We also we not supposed to use our arms very much. Well, Deanna pointed out that the feet control the whole body. So if you turn your feet a certain direction, your hips open up and point that way, your shoulders turn that way your body orients that way, so no matter where your dog watches to get cues on where to go next, foot placement is going to have a lot to do with that, ahhh haaaaaa, another light bulb moment for me. I always knew foot placement was important but I guess I never fully appreciated why.

Another development I noticed about Breeze today in class, one I have been noticing the last few weeks..., that is good overall, but a little scary right now...BREEZE IS GETTING WAYYYYYYYYY FASTER. She finally understands to just look for the line I am setting up and she is awesome reading it and just takes off. I mean FLIES. Half the time she is soooo far ahead of me it is scary and sad. I had thought up until now that I was doing awesome keeping up with her and thought I had that handled, but this new confidence and excitement has her just smoking around the course, and if she gets any faster....I may be in some serious trouble for sure.

Random training thoughts

YIKES, it has been a very busy couple of days with a lot of running around to do. I had a ton of driving to do yesterday and a lot of time to zone out and think.

I was thinking about the class Liz had a week ago with Deanna. The focus on this class was contacts, and I have taken this particular class and done this course with Breeze and with Chloe, but I think this class brought on one of the biggest light bulb moments I have had with my training.

One thing is that Deanna always has said since we were in beginners that WE ARE DOG TRAINERS, WHAT???? I had never thought that before because I had not at the time worked and got paid for training dogs.....but she is right, she is the instructor and helps us, but WE ARE THE DOG TRAINERS. Fancy that, I am a dog trainer. LOL.

In handlers plus-which is Lizzie's class level right now...there is a homework assignment which very few people usually end up doing, but I think that homework has taught me sooooo much and really helped me be a much better trainer. The homework assignment is to simple write down your criteria, in detail, EXACTLY what you would like your contact performance to look like, so usually there should be one for the dog walk, one for the Aframe and one for the teeter. I put down how I want the dog to enter the obstacle, how they should go over it, the speed, where they are looking, when they should break stride, how they should go over the apex, and exactly what it should look like when they get to the end, should they be looking at me or looking low, how should their weight be shifted, what releases them off the obstacle. ANYWAY, so the light bulb part of doing that was that I realized that training is so much more productive and goes so much easier and faster if you have a very, very detailed picture of what you want in the end. You know what bits and pieces to not reinforce and you know what bits and pieces to encourage and the end product is a lot cleaner and the dog is way more sure of their job. Deanna is the most awesome instructor for being able to break things down and to really teach at a very basic level, these are basic rules for this, basic rules for that, there are so many things that when I go to a trial and am a little confused about say where exactly to put a front cross--I can stop a lot of times and think what are the five rules of a front cross....hummm, and then all of a sudden it becomes clear. I tell you I have been soooo lucky to have such wonderful instructors--so very lucky.

Friday, November 13, 2009

USDAA Nationals in Arizona

I have been watching the USDAA Nationals from Arizona. You can subscribe to the video, or watch the raw feed live for free. I am pretty bummed that when I could actually try to qualify to go next year... but they are moving the competition across the country-so I probably would not be able to go next year anyway ;-). I was reading through the results of the runs from yesterday, and seeing so many friends and dogs and trainers I admire, I really should have loaded myself into the agility mobile and went to watch the action even if we are not able to compete. Next best thing is watching the feed! They have the course posted and then you can watch people running, so I planned the course I would have run and now it is fun to see how everyone else is running it and how that is working for them.

VIDEO: Watch the action RIGHT NOW!

Right now, free live video is available showing the action in the main ring! Go
to;, click on video, and select
"raw feed." It will ask you to log in using your subscriber ID or competitor log
in credentials (if you own a USDAA-registered dog, you have these; there's a
spot for you to click to retrieve them if you don't know what they are). Only
register as a first time user if you aren't a subscriber and you don't own a
USDAA-registered dog.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lunch at Andrias after herding, the beach with the dogs

This is all just random stuff from our Monday adventure that I finally got around to taking off the video camera.

The video is of Lizzie when we first took her in the big pen with the sheep. She did a little herding of the sheep but mostly she was investigating the fence, checking for holes under the fence, trying to jump in the water bucket, smelling and sniffing, and finally she settled on rolling in some delectable smelling goo, yep, I got to ride home with her, and it did smell. Thank heavens we stopped at the beach, I made sure she got completely into the water, LOL.

After our herding lesson and the beach we went to Andrias a little seafood place I love to go to but usually dont have time for. Such a pretty place to sit and have lunch.

I got a short video of Breeze, she was out playing in the water and some dog showed up. I have had reactive dogs, so it always worries me when a dog just runs up to us, I never know, are they nice, what is the story? I put Breeze on the long line and was nervous because I could not see an owner ANYWHERE. Like come on, not all dogs like other dogs running around and the beach was deserted, so how does the owner know my dog is ok with other dogs. Anyway, the owner finally meandered by and did not even say a word, didn't ask if the dogs were all right, didn't call her dog, nothing. I was not even sure it was her dog, but he finally did follow her. Anyway, lucky Breeze is ok with other dogs and this did turn out to be a nice dog ;-).