Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Soakin' in Some Sun

So, this was the best I could get using PhotoBooth to capture our (current) time outside.

I skipped class this morning (*gasp*) and instead spent some qual time with Marge.  We went on a long walk down to the beach, played the recall game (just a little bit), made some friends, saw Lordzy (eeee!) and have just been having a good time.

I got an e-mail about Agility last night and I'm going to sign her up.  It starts two weeks from today, provided there's room in the class for us. 

Part of me wants to do Rally - I think Marge likes that too, especially since I found out that APDT Rally lets you use treats limitedly - but I'm not sure if a Beginner Rally class is even starting, and I've been waiting so long for agility that I may as well give it a try.

I made some makeshift jumps in my backyard and had Marge practice going over them.  Now, she's exhausted, rolling around in the grass.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Down to the Wire

Tonight was week 7. Great night!

We practiced a lot of the CGC tests, and there was a definite focus on tests 1-3. Marge did fantastically; she squirmed a little with for the stand for exam, but was definitely.. passable.. if that's a word. I tried to rely less on the treats -though I did break out the roast beef - and used praise, praise, praise.

A very fun class, made up for week 6 which I found painfully boring. We did a 2-minute out of sight separation. Marge was fine until the end, until she started pulling her way toward the OTHER handler because she had treats in her hand. At least I know the separation part will be okay.

At the end, she had her buddy Fred's "grandpa" come up and pet her. That really was awesome.. it helped me affirm that she's made progress not only with Susan, but with other people as well.

(Which reminds me, she went to the vet to check out some funky hair loss she's been having on her ears. She wasn't even that scared at the vet! She walked right in! I didn't have to drag her! Yippe!! And she went up to the vet tech's face and started sniffing her.. heh heh. The vet shook my hand and told me I did a great job with her. That felt good.)

Next week should be interesting. We're running through the 10 sections of the CGC test. I'm going to try to use as few treats as possible in preparation for the big day. The Sunday after that will feel so weird.. I'm going to miss not going, even though it'll be Easter.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lazy Days

So I'll admit, we've slackened on the formal training a bit.  Instead of having rigid sessions in my living room, I've been trying to work on loose leash training with many distractions.  Which means lots and lots of walks.

I'm still practicing my finishes, as that's not something I want her to get sloppy with.  Oh, and stays, too.  Loooong stays.

Next weekend is Week 7 of Beginner 2 already.  I'm waiting to hear about Agility classes, which we could be taking next month if there's a spot for us.  If not, I'm not sure what we'll do -- Rally is an option, but it depends on WHEN Agility will become available.  Money definitely is limited...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Like What I Saw

So I watched the CGC test tonight.

The main thing dogs failed for was jumping and straining on the leash.

Debbie is an evaluator. One of the three that were there. She said that she thought Marge should have taken it tonight.. think she's ready and that she should have no problem with it.

It was a lot less rigid than I thought it was going to be. The evaluators totally set the dogs up for success and let people retry if their dog didn't do something right.

All in all, I'm optimistic. I'm trying not to get my hopes TOO high, but I feel like we're in really good shape.

For the next month, I'm going to focus on getting Marge more comfortable with people. Walking her through crowded places, increasing distractions. I want her to be bombproof for this. I know we can pull it off.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Evening Walk 3/17/09

How nice it is to be out in the sunlight at 6pm.  
The days are getting warmer and longer; we like it!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Creeping Closer

Only three weeks left of Beginner 2. Man, I feel like we flew through it!

Marge did well tonight.

We started with some attention exercises by moving our upper body forward, backward and to each side to see how the dogs responded. Marge didn't budge when I turned my body towards her as if I was going to make a right turn. She just stood there and watched me, probably wondering what the heck I was doing. She did start moving forward when I leaned forward, though.

We also did some stand for exam stuff.. Marge was brushed and had her ears checked. She stood fine, seemed a little shy but didn't move around. I really want to try this with other people.

We started practicing footwalk for halting. It's so hard. Marge knows how to turn, now I need to know how also!

We also practiced walking through a crowd. Marge was fine. I think all the sessions in the park, Petsmart (we went today, actually) and outside the high school have really helped.

What else, what else.. OH! THE TABLE! We tried out the agility table. Marge was afraid of it at first and then hopped right on! She looked SO interested in it and wanted to keep trying. Agility registration is going to open soon, looks like we'll be signing up..

I'm going to be watching the evaluator give the CGC test to other dogs on Thursday night. It should be good. I've been asking all over about the CGC, but to actually see what passes and what doesn't will be informative.

And that's about it for Obedience. Our trip to Petsmart this afternoon was fun. We got to meet retired racing greyhounds and made friends with lots of people. Marge was very fond of one little boy who I let give her a treat. It was cute to see.

Friday, March 13, 2009

What a Day.

I wish I could come on here and talk only about the long walks Marge and I went on, the fun she had with her Basenji friend, Buddy, and the zoomies she ran with Husky Niko.. but unfortunatey we had a negative part of our day as well.

I haven't been frequenting the dog park as much as I used to. It's muddy, small, and there and too many unpredictable dogs there. The weather got the best of me today so I decided to head out. It was fine.. a couple of obnoxious teenage pups, but nothing Marge and I couldn't handle. 'Til the very end when some woman approaches with her Pit Bull.

Mind you, I love Pit Bulls to death. I support them every chance I get. I get into arguments with family members and uneducated friends about how great they are. But they do not belong in a dog park. Ever. It's asking for trouble, and trouble is what we got today.

I was going to leave within the next couple of minutes.. and I'm kicking myself that I didn't go sooner. This dog approaches, visibly fixated, and the woman is jabbing on the dog's neck repeatedly with the prong collar such that the dog squeals in pain.

Woman comes in, dog is SHAKING with some type of heightened energy while she takes off the leash. Marge goes over to sniff. All is fine, she walks away.

Woman takes the dog's leash off and the dog charges Marge with a hurricane of nasty sounds and open jaws.

I thought for sure I was going to have puncture wounds to deal with. I don't even know how they got split up. I KNOW the right way to break up a scuffle, but in the heat of the moment I just reached my hands in there, not giving a crap if I got bit, better me than my dog.

In retrospect, it sounded worse than it looked, but in a small dog park with a strange pit bull, I was NOT taking any chances.

Put Marge's leash on and said that's it, I'm out of here.

Told the woman her dog doesn't belong in the dog park. She responds that she's never done that before. I tell her that her dog was FIXATING before she even got through the gate. I inspect Marge, thankfully she comes out of it without a scratch. Double check to make sure that she dog has shots, woman apologizes, I storm off.

I can usually keep my cool.. very rarely do I raise my voice to people, especially strangers. I turn around after walking away and see that she is holding her dog by the prong collar such that the dog's front legs are off of the ground. I went nuts at that point.. I didn't turn to go back but I just ranted like a lunatic as I was leaving.

I don't blame the poor dog at all... her owner placed her in a stressful situation, and she failed to realize that her dog was not responding well at all.

I was so upset.. if Marge would have gotten hurt, it would have been my fault for having her there in the first place.

My dog park visits will remain to be very infrequent. I'd like to still go at the very quiet times when the people I know are actually there. It is such a shame that only 10 minutes before, Marge was having the time of her life with her friends.

Part of me doesn't want to go at all anymore. Who knows, maybe I'll do what others have done and keep Marge in the small dogs section.

I am disgusted over this.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Everything Park

So we tried out Wolfe's Pond Park yesterday.  I was impressed!  It's a really diverse place.  One end of the park is woods, another is a beach, another is open fields and the far side borders on a lake (pond?).  Marge had a great time.

Here's Marge with one of the many friends she's made lately.  She's never seen a dog like this before, and quite frankly found it immensely interesting.

Marge's social skills are really starting to blossom.  She met her dog park friend, Rowan, on the beach, and allowed his (male) owner to pet her.  She also met a couple of other people, both men and women, and allowed to be pet.  It's really one of the best feelings in the world to see that.  Sometimes she even gives a tail wag.

She's also been socializing more with people in the neighborhood, including my neighbors and their children (some of which she doesn't see very often).  She briefly got to see her dog-friend Stewie today too.

Marge has been a busy girl - as have I, and I haven't been good about updating this blog.  We've been walking in the afternoon to simulate a crowd situation when the high school kids come trickling down the Lane.  We went up to the shopping plaza, too, but she's still iffy about it.

'Bedience tonight.  I know we're going to be working more on the petting and separation, so I'm hoping tonight really goes well.  This week has been great so far.  I've slacked a bit on the formal training sessions and I've really tried to create as many social situations as I can.

Monday, March 2, 2009

A Rather FROSTY Evening..

So doG went and had a foot of snow dumped on us. It was too much for Marge to try to eat, so I don't think she enjoyed it as much as she did all the other times. In some places, she was up to her knees.

She did play with her ball in the backyard a bit. It's still laying somewhere out there, completely covered up and hopefully not chewed up by the snowblower.

We tried going into Miller Field, but only stayed there about 5 minutes. Marge really wasn't having the whole "let me go and run around on my 20 foot leash like a maniac" thing today.

Marge growled at my dad last night. I think it was more of a grumble than anything, because it sounded pretty similar to what she does when he's giving her treats. At least no fights ensued this time, for the most part.

It may have been my fault - I grabbed Marge's collar when he got home. It might have wound her up. My guess is that it was just another once in a while kind of thing, and she'll be alright for some extended time period.

Obedience was pretty good last night. Most of what we practiced Marge already knows - finishing, heeling, and that kind of thing.

We do need to work on keeping attention despite distractions. The bag of Charlee Bears was enough to get her eyes goin' in another direction.

We also worked on approaching another handler/dog team, which Marge did well with. At the end of class, one of the instructors from last class came in (maybe to teach the next class?) and simply by holding up a treat and telling Marge to sit, she was able to pet her. I don't know who the woman is (I know lots of faces, but few names at obedience) but I remember in Beginner 1 that she scared Marge and Marge growled at her. So this was an improvement. She wagged her tail at her this time.

We are getting closer and closer to the CGC. Marge has progressed, but I'm not sure if it's enough. The later weeks of Beginner 2 are pretty much centered on the CGC, so we should get more practice time in then. In the meantime, I'm going to try to make Petsmart visits a bit more frequent, and maybe take a trip down to PetCo, too, just for a subtle change of scenery.

No matter what, I'm proud of her.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Rather Froggy Evening (last night)

Been A While..

Pictures to come after I get some much needed rest..

Thursday Marge and I took a trip to Grandma's house.  She flew out of the car, up the steps, and into the house.. she LOVES it there for some reason.  We took a walk around the neighborhood and then said hello to one of the neighbors.  Marge let her pet her a little bit!  She really wasn't afraid and was standing right within the circle of the three of us standing there.

Shortly after she got to go across the street and play with her two friends, Gidget and Ralphie, the Cavalier/Bichon mixes.  Play bows were flying all over the place, especially between Ralphie and Marge.  They ran around like nuts.  Marge actually panted!

Friday Marge and I did some desensitization to walking close to other people on the sidewalk.  The high school had just let out, so there were a ton of people walking around.  She only got scared once.  I think people probably wonder what the heck I'm doing when I have Marge swing around from the front position and get close -- which she can do WONDERFULLY now -- but that's ok.  The important thing is that she's learning and gaining confidence.

That night, Mom, Grandma, my sister, Marge and I took a trip to Petsmart.  Marge's leash training pretty much goes out the window at Petsmart, but I got her to heel past some employees with the aid of treats.  She made friends with a little girl who gave her a treat, and also a man who asked for her paw and was met by Marge's usual grumbles.  Never fails.

Saturday We took an early morning walk up  to the shopping plaza, just so I can get Marge more and more acclimated to lots of strange people being around.  I didn't stay in the actual plaza long, as she was a little bit intimidated by everything, but walking alongside among shoppers with their bags was fine.  

Later we took a trip to the dog park, where, again, with the aid of some treats, Marge let a couple of people pet her.  I mean, in a sit, with their hands fully on her neck and head.  She saw her Husky buddy Niko, which got her pretty excited.  She had a great time, even though it was freezing.  It was nice to be back there, and even nicer that there were only about 4 or 5 dogs.

Today is Week 3 of Obedience.  I plan on walking up to the shopping center again as long as it isn't too cold.  Marge is also going to try a new training treat -- a Pet Botanics food roll.  We'll see how she does!

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