Saturday, February 16, 2013

our way, or the highway.

Today, Husband and I took Lumen to the local dog club for the first time. We were intending to sign up because I used to train there with Mallei and they had a good agility program, plus there's a lot to be said for Lumen being able to work with all those other dogs around and under distraction.

We didn't join up today because we don't have our membership cards for Victorian Canine Association so it would have cost us $15 more, and that seems like a waste of money when they're on their way.

On the way out of the building we bumped into a woman with two Aussies who trains at our Tuesday night place, and is one of the instructors at this club. We started chatting, and she told me how their agility training works.

There are different 'modules', essentially, and you have to pass each one to move to the next one, and you need to pass them all to start sequencing, going to the evening class for people competing and so on. Ok, no worries...
I asked her about the contacts module - said I was planning on training running contacts with Lu.
She looked awkward.
Well, she said, in order to pass the module your dog needs to do the whole dog-walk, then touch its nose THREE TIMES to the ground.

So I'm familiar with two-on-two-off, and I'd like Lumen to be capable of doing that if I need her to - who knows, could come in handy, however, 3 nose touches? I asked what would happen if I didn't get her to do 3 nose touches, thinking I could cheat by getting a 2o2o just for the assessment, and do running the rest of the time. Apparently, this will not earn a pass.

Look, I know I'm going to be fighting an uphill battle in Australia with running contacts- frankly, nobody does them and everyone's afraid of them, but in this case, even this instructor (and apparently 90%!!! of the other instructors) agreed that 3 nose touches shouldn't be THE ONLY way to pass.

I just find it ridiculous that there should be such a restrictive requirement for this - as a teacher (or in this case, instructor), you're meant to be able to change what you do to suit the needs of your students (and their dogs). If I'm a fairly experienced handler who is going to be getting additional training (though Silvia Trkman's online running contacts course and probably private lessons ... somewhere...) and who trains at home to do a particular method, with my particular dog who, I'm willing to bed, will find much more joy and drive in running than stopping, then they should be able to tailor their program to accomodate that. And if my contacts end up being all messed up, that's my fault, not theirs. Trainers shouldn't ever assume that their way is the best (and only) way to train, and I think for most things (handling, weaves, whatever) they don't... so why are we all experts in contacts??

Thursday, February 14, 2013

settle, petal.

Is this how we sleep on the couch? I've never done it before..

I've been having a bit of difficulty with getting Lumen to settle. We've had her 4 months now, and she was a GREAT stay on her- if I do it in a formal way, and has learnt pretty well that if I'm chopping things in the kitchen, that when she lays down behind me, she might get fed (and I know she's doing it for the treats, because if I don't cough up she starts to stretch herself out nice and long, tail wagging hopefully, squashes herself into 'frog' and generally tries to free-shape without pulling out all the big guns or getting up from her drop). But one thing I hadn't been able to do was just relax with her, out of her crate, of an afternoon or evening, in the lounge. Crazy. And I don't want to necessarily 'teach' her to settle, cos sometimes I need her to be revved up and savvy, but at the same time, I was really getting sick of having to crate her every time I wanted to, I dunno, write a blog post or watch TV. Otherwise, outside she'd go, where I know they both just wait at the back door to come in.

So yesterday I had the day off (strike!) and didn't do much more than usual, in fact, I'm not sure she even got a walk in the morning, just that I was able to hang out with her till 9, then popped her in the bathroom, came home, trained and played a fair bit, then chilled out on the couch. And it didn't take her long, but soon enough she was on the couch chewing a bully-stick and then... falling asleep.
I had to take photos as proof. Usually her crate is set up and open so she'd go put herself in there, but I hadn't given her the choice...

At first, it was like she wasn't sure what to do- she laid down and squished her snout against my arm- is this right? Should I sleep here? And grew sick of that as she got too warm and moved her way up and down the length of the couch from then on, finally stretching herself out long and lean on her side on the floor.

And this is how we spent most of the day, until about 4 in the afternoon- alternating between couch sleeps and floor sleeps. 

I'm hoping it's not just a one-off occurrence!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Lu is losing teeth, big time.

And I must say, that I'm beginning to appreciate what a stellar puppy she is. 

Right now, she's chewing very contentedly on a bully-stick on her bed, and so far (touch wood), all remotes, shoes, cords, electronics and so on are intact, sans teeth-marks.

Outside, she's been busy chewing sticks and, when she can find them, plastic plant pots (most of which have been removed by now). I know, I know, sticks can be dangerous, but honestly, it's better than chewing the sprinklers, or the plants (could be poisonous) or whatever. 

We're getting down to the wire with her teeth now- just the molars left to go, and a couple of pre-molars on the top (I think). 

I mean, this 5.5 month old puppy is moving from the dog bed to her mat to chew her bully-stick - she's not even doing it on the carpet!!! Mal could learn some lessons from her, I tell you. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

scary rubbish

So far so bad.
I must say I'm somewhat of a blog hoarder. I begin a blog and it falls by the wayside. Seems to be a recurring theme. Honestly, I don't have a huge amount of time to blog in the first place so possibly I should quit while I'm ahead, but I'd like to make a go of it.

I thought maybe some 'features' would be a good idea. Like: Tricky Tuesday (whereby I teach and film (fingers crossed) a new trick, or get better at an old one).
Or how about... Photo Friday - gives me an excuse to get more photos of Lu.
And... Well, maybe Monday can just be dedicated to wonderings, problems and rambling. Thursday could be 'Thoughtful Thursday' but Edgar's Mission do that so I'm stealing their idea. And Wednesday could be more of the same for now.

So. Today is Monday.

Tell you what, I'm super excited about hard-rubbish collection time. I'm not sure what everybody else calls it, but it's when you dump piles of old furniture, bits of wood, broken toys, old TVs and the like on the side of the road and it'll get picked up by the council, or by your friendly neighbourhood scavengers. Nic loves hard rubbish for the free stuff. I love hard rubbish because suddenly, scary, weird and strange-smelling monsters have manifested themselves all around our streets and it gives me the perfect opportunity to practice 'Check it Out'/Treat & retreat.

Big scary pile of stuff? Great - we go towards it to where Lumen is comfortable, she gets praised/fed, we move away, we go close again, treat, move away. We repeat this, and usually, it only takes about 5 back-and-forths before she is quite happily sniffing or climbing all over the object in question. Theoretically, I could probably just march up to the object myself and praise her for coming, but I see her big grin as we retreat, turn around, and get ready to start the game again that I know this works for her. I also see her 'check in' with me more often when there's scary things or cars, or something she's unsure about. Is she wondering if we're going to play the game? Checking my reaction? Showing me how brave she is? Making sure everything's ok? I'm not sure, but I get the sense she's trusting me a lot more lately, and I'm really enjoying watching her become a brave, confident, and well-balanced dog.

We also ran into a cat today, and getting her to 'leave it' or look away AT ALL (even when I stood right in her field of vision) was SO not happening. But that's another post for another day.