It's been a while since I've had enough stuff for a full length training update, so here goes.
Thanksgiving brought my paternal grandmother and one of my aunts to my house in addition to my family and my maternal grandmother (who Marge sees all the time).
As usual for non-regular people, I brought Marge outside in the back yard while they entered the house. She still does not do well with actually seeing the person come through the door. My 90-something grandmother was not a threat to her at all; Marge likes her very much, in fact. However, my dad was walking in with her, and it takes some effort (she uses a walker to walk), so it was certainly best that Marge was out of the way.
Marge was very curious about the walker and really had no problem with it being used in the room near hear. I joked that that would be the only part of the TDI test that Marge could ever pass.
My aunt, on the other hand, did scare Marge a little bit when she initially came in, probably because she was right near the door as Marge came in from the yard. Otherwise, she was fine, bopping my aunt with her nose and trying desperately to get her to give her snacks. She entertained with a couple of tricks as well.
Today marked the return of one of Marge's favorite people to my house, my sister's mathematics tutor. In the past, Marge had gotten to the point where she could be inside the house as the tutor entered, but, since it has been a while, I brought her outside. If she comes often enough, I have no doubt that she'll make Marge's "regular list" once again.
Teaching Clean Up
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
A few of you asked for the specifics of my "clean up" trick. I made a video tutorial of it a while ago. You can find it here. I don't know how good it is, but I hope it helps a little bit!
And, a New Trick
I've begun teaching Marge, thanks to the help of Lucy and Walter's mom, how to teach Marge to beg/sit pretty. She's catching on quite quickly. I've been simply using luring to get her in to position; I have NO idea how to shape this behavior or if it's even possible. She's doing best in the kitchen corner on a mat, which prevents slippage. She definitely wobbles a little bit, so hopefully after a little while it'll help to strengthen her core muscles (in addition, of course, to being really really cute).
I've been awful about desensitizing Marge to the gigantic crate that I bought over the summer. It's been in the trunk of my car for about six weeks. I finally took it out the other day and set it up for her. As I type this, she's working on a frozen Kong that's got a concoction of left over food in it and seems to be doing fine. She napped in it with the door rolled up before as well.
Walks by Day, Walks by Night
I blogged a couple of weeks ago about the difficulties of walking Marge at night. I considered giving up the ritual, but I have continued it in some form. I usually skip Saturday night and I let quite a few different factors dictate how long or short it is.
Last night's walk was strange, as she was much more keen on walking on the concrete, residential/commercial side of the street rather than the grassy side bordering the field. That was about a 40 minute walk and a rather good one at that. I do plan on walking her tonight, but, since we walked for about an hour this afternoon (that post will come tomorrow or Thursday) and did some backyard agility/rally after dinner, tonight's walk will likely be short.
Sunday, Louie and I took her on a spectacular walk through the field and to the beach. Despite the decent number of people out enjoying the good weather, Marge was actually VERY good. The highlight of the walk came on the way back, when Marge barely paid any attention to three young boys in soccer uniforms walking in very close proximity to us. Her walk that night was awesome as well.
Our Old Stomping Grounds
I took a leap of faith today and walked Marge along the asphalt path at the beach that I credit with basically changing her life and helping her to relax outdoors during the summer of 2008. There were very few people around and no screaming children, so it seemed to be a perfect day to get back out there.
We only walked on it for a few minutes, mostly on the way back from a secluded walk on the sand (again, more on that soon!), but I was pleased with her.
Her tail is kind of low here, but it always seems to droop when she is sniffing something for a long time. Displacement sniffing? Maybe, but the pee mail that I'm sure is found all over around here is enticing, too.
MargeBlog started in early 2009 as a training journal for my newly adopted, skittish Lab mix, Marge. Marge's world was small back then; her fears really limited the things I could do with her. Aside from trips to the park and attending beginner training classes, Marge was mostly a stay at home gal - not because either of us wanted her to be, just because the demons from her unsuitable upbringing continued to haunt her.
Slowly, the fear diminished, her world grew. Now, Marge is a fun-loving, squirrel-chasing, winning Agility and Rally dog who accompanies me to a wide variety of places. Here, you will frequently find detailed training updates, snippets from Marge's every day life at home, and photo-filled posts detailing our many outdoor adventures.
This is more than just a dog blog - it is an actual look in to what one shelter dog's life ultimately became when she found her first and forever home and began to blossom.
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A rescue from Georgia bounced around from shelter to shelter and state to state with her siblings, Marge did not have the luxury of living in a home - my home - until just past her first birthday. A life behind bars had taken its toll on Marge, whose obvious fear of people, noise, and city life in general left a lot for her to learn about how to get by in New York.
Marge is a different dog now than she was back then. It took years of new, positive life experiences, but her fears, which used to consume everything we did, are now only one theme in a great big book of adventures.
These days, Marge enjoys going to training classes, taking trips to agility trials, having play dates with friends, and eating anything that's even remotely edible - not bad for a dog who spent her puppy days in cages.
My time with Marge has been a learning experience for which I am ever grateful. As my first dog, she has taught me and continues to teach me so much more than I ever imagined about dogs, training, and behavioral/fear issues. She's a fun dog with a sense of humor who loves life and learning.
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