Saturday, February 18, 2012

Don't Forget Pretzel!

Looking through my last couple posts, I noticed that we are lacking in Pretzel material!  I have to admit, this is partially due to a lack of Pretzel pictures.  Poor guy has been subject to the fate of all second children, and isn't getting his equal share of photos.

You're kidding right?  How could you resist photographing this adorable mug?
Seriously!  Look at these puppy eyes!

So, I figured the little guy deserved his own training update post.  Earlier this year he finished his first big-pup class: Elementary Clicker Training down at Gentle Touch.  There were definitely a few bumps along the way, but we both got a lot out of the class.

The first class was a great intro to clicker training, complete with a demonstration of doggy skateboarding.  Seeing Blaze the Swedish Vallhund skateboard definitely made my day.  Pretty much any dog skateboarding is crazy cute, and seeing it in person was even cuter!  (I don't have a video of Blaze doing it, so enjoy this adorable Boston scooting around Paris.)

The second class, however was where our challenges started.  Pretzel decided to show his hand, and remind me that he has some reactive dog tendencies.

*hangs head in shame*  I'm sorry Mom, I'm just a pup, and I'm still learning.
All the dogs were much bigger than him, and after feeling a bit threatened, he cried havoc upon a Belgian Sheepdog puppy.  Pretzel definitely struggled through his obvious dislike for the big black dog throughout the remaining 5 weeks of class.  On the up side, having floundered through this kind of thing with Hoagie, helping Pretzel through his fearfulness was comparably easy.

Yeah, um, you're welcome, I guess.

Besides his issues with his classmates, Pretzel and I learned lots.  He now has most of the basics under his belt, and is a pro at targeting and spins.  We even had the time on our last meeting to learn how to ring a bell.  With some extra work at home, Pretzel now happily rings a service bell for treats!

I can haz hotdog?

Pretzel, however, wasn't the only one to get a lot out of the class.  Ivy and Lisa are great teachers, and I really saw how much I still have to learn.  I definitely need to improve my clicker coordination and make sure I always have a flexible plan when training.  Pretzel reminded me that every dog is different, and has his or her own way of learning.  While Hoagie is a quick study, Pretzel requires a bit more practice to understand each behavior.  On the flip side, Pretzel is far quicker to offer new behaviors, making free shaping a bit easier.

So, all in all, Pretzel and I have come a long way through his first class, but we still have a long road to travel.  I'm looking forward to the trip with this wiry little pup!

 PS.  I haven't forgotten about my promise of embarrassing Freestyle video.  Currently waiting to get the video files from the videographer.  Soon...

Saturday, February 11, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I began a substantial new chapter in my decent towards total, crazy-dog-lady madness.  I started taking Musical Canine Freestyle at Gentle Touch Pet Training with Hoagie.  Yes, I've taken up dancing with my dog, and ya know what?  We are having an absolutely wonderful time!  I've been pondering this dog activity for a while, and am finally taking the plunge.  Don't get me wrong; this dog sport is ridiculous.  It truly takes a certain level of crazy to want to do this ↓ with your dog, much less in public.

I, however, have never been one to shy away from making a spectacle of myself, and I am only more pleased to have my best furry friends by my side to support me.

I worked 2 summers at a Civil War living history site and did 8 years of marching band.  Looking strange in public does not faze me in the least.

The final incident that pushed me towards trying Canine Freestyle, was the Rally-O practice I described a couple weeks ago in this blog post.  Hoagie and I have a lot of fun goofing around, doing tricks, and just letting him utterly ham it up!  That lead to the conclusion that Musical Canine Freestyle would be perfect for the Hoagmeister!

"My public awaits."
So, I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.  We've chosen our first song: : "Just What I Needed" by The Cars.  I believe we'll have a video of us doing our routine at the end of the class.  Though video evidence of me acting weird does make me a bit nervous, I'll try and get that posted for all of you to "enjoy."  Until then, we'll be practicing our leg weaves, backwards heeling, and spins.

In the mean time have an example of some amazing Canine Freestyle done by Michele Pouliot and her dog Listo (who, by the way, is doing a seminar at Gentle Touch this fall!)