Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A "Leave-It" breakthrough

So, the other day we made some real progress on the path toward a reliable "leave-it" command. "Leave-it" is a really really useful tool for re-directing a dog like Hoagie. We've been working on it for a while, and am finally getting closer. First, however, let me give you a little background on the situation.

We believe Hoagie is a "Borgi" or a Border Collie/Welsh Corgi cross. Because we got him at the County Animal Shelter, we can't be sure. We don't know if he was the product of a local ranch dog litter or if someone paid a lot for him as a "designer mutt." He's a great dog, but sometimes he can be a bit of a handful.  We think his original parents may not have known what they were getting themselves into with this cute little guy.

 All of this has given me a really reactive dog with a high prey drive.  Hoagie's perfect storm of high vigilance apparently lets him see things a little differently.  Now, I know that mice and lizards like our wood pile and a nearby bush outside our house, but I think Hoagie sees something even more thrilling...

Apparently a very exciting drama plays out in Mousopolis and Lizardtopia, in which the evil Lizard Overloards, led by the cruel Lizard King, decide which of the downtrodden Mice People are to be sacrificed to the Green-Eyed Fang-Toothed Demon in the garage.

This is apparently better than even the best squirrel-based dramas.  Getting to check in on it elicits squeals of excitement every time we go by the bush and wood pile.

But I digress.  The main point is that, finally after months of trying to work on a leave-it command, Hoagie was able to tear himself away and enjoy the rain of treats that awaited him when he came back to stand quietly next to me.
I wasn't entirely sure he was going to come when I said "leave-it," but my gamble paid off, and Hoagie has been much more reliable about taking a break from the excitement.  He's by no means perfect with this command yet, but I'll take little successes when I can!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Short Paws for a Cause

Sorry I'm a bit slow on the posts right now. It's been a busy week for dog related stuff, and I'm working on a couple posts right now. I'll have some new stuff up soon!

Before I post this link, I want to assure you that this blog won't normally be a place for this kind of soapbox stuff. I did however want to share this petition with ya'll.

I recently met the brother of Rosie the Newf, and this petition is in regards to a really a messed up incident with police shooting a dog in Oregon. What isn't included in the police report is that after shooting a dog cowering in a blackberry bush four times, police laughed about their conquest in front of the Good Samaritan neighbors who were originally trying to help the dog.

It really comes down to police and law enforcement needing better education on dog behavior and body language. Far too many dogs are needlessly shot every year, and as with many things in life, I feel education is the key (insert "The More You Know" music). I have a lot of respect for law enforcement, and all that they do for us (my brother is in law enforcement), but this incident is inexcusable. So, if you feel so moved take a sec and sign the petition. Thanks!

*steps off soapbox*

Rosie the Newfoundland

So, uh, to lighten the mood a bit after that downer, enjoy a picture of my cat Pesto looking smug after stealing Hoagie's crate.

Evil-Eyes Pesto is in your crates, stealin' your warms.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Walking frustrations

So I suppose that a large part of me writing this blog is to keep track of my progress. I thought I might start with something that has been endlessly frustrating since the day we got Hoagie, and of which I was vividly reminded today...walking on a leash.

Granted, we have made some progress. At first I wasn't sure if we had really adopted a borgi or a miniature sled dog.

So we of course tried a couple different options, and ended up using a head halter, with

Now don't get me wrong. Working with a head halter has helped some, but as we were reminded today, when you become dependent on a tool like a head halter, any progress goes out the window when you have to go without.

I've had to change tactics. I'm now doing my best to stick to only positive reinforcement training techniques. The key to progress toward a calm dog walking by my side has been treats and praise. Hoagie is beginning to think that walking by my side makes it rain treats. This has however created a new problem.

He gets his treat and then goes back to whatever exciting distraction he was focused on. I really do think that this will eventually work with continued work and time...but it sure is frustrating right now.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A dog's tale

So this is me:

I know, starting a blog about dog training with a ridiculous picture of myself is a little weird, but that's how I'm feeling right now. Moving on..

This is my dog Hoagie:

We think he's a border collie/ corgi cross, but he's a pound puppy, so we can't really be sure.

The thought behind this blog was originally to keep a record of my progress working with and training Hoagie. My husband Stew and I got him about a year ago, and as I like to say: Hoagie is a great dog, but we definitely jumped in with both feet with our first dog. He's, let's say...a bit of a handful sometimes.

So I really don't know where this blog is going to take me, but hopefully it will keep me (and thereby, Hoagie) motivated. Feel free to take from it what you will; I'm not making any promises. I'm too easily distracted for promises about posting here....ooh, funny doggie video!

(I know it's after Halloween, but this video cracks me up every time.)