Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Training 16

It's been a while since I've had enough stuff for a full length training update, so here goes.

Guests Galore
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

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).

Cratework Again
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.

By the time we were almost back to the car, her tail came up and was eventually carried way over her back. I know she couldn't have been too scared because when she's nervous, she'll usually try to jet back to the car without taking any detours with her nose. This time, she wanted to sniff and explore a little more before we returned.

Again, more on this walk tomorrow - just figured I'd get the training/behavior portion out of the way today!

We also have some potentially big stuff coming up later in the week. Think Agility (naturally). Cross your paws for us too (though I promise we'll explain ourselves soon!).


The Army of Four December 1, 2009 at 9:33 PM  

That's the coolest crate. It's like you're camping. In a ...... pup tent. Ha roo roo roo! (Ammy helped me with that one!)
Play bows,

Deborah December 1, 2009 at 10:00 PM  

I love your tent! How cool is that!
Have fun!

Johann The Dog December 1, 2009 at 10:37 PM  

Very cool update! I like reading about overcoming challenges, we have some with our Gracie sometimes :)

I learned beg and sit pretty and what Mum calls big wave, waving while begging to help me build my core muscles. It really worked! We loves Lucy and Walters blog post about their time with Chris Zink!

Hey you may want to enter that pet bath contest and see if you can win and try out one of those vitamin showers. I know it's good quality, maybe it could help :)

I heard they are working on the site tonight, but they'll have it working by morning! I know they would love for you guys to enter :)

Great to catch up!

Kathy Mocharnuk December 1, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

I am holding my breath to find out about the big stuff coming up...sounds very exciting and we will all keep our paws crossed here, (and that is a lot of paws, LOL). Do you suppose when Marge sniffs and her tail goes down it could just be her going into working mode-like sometimes getting a good handle on the smells? I know when my dogs are herding they say when the tails are up and over their backs really high they are just playing around, and in a jolly mood, and when they shift really into work mode their tails go down about half way as they are really concentrating.

NAK and The Residents of The Khottage Now With KhattleDog! December 2, 2009 at 12:16 AM  

What a full post of such good stuff!

Again, Marge is one furry lukhky girrrrrl!


Rufus and Indie December 2, 2009 at 3:41 AM  

You must be proud! Marge is doing so well!
We can't wait to see the news!

Rufus and Indie

Sara December 2, 2009 at 5:57 AM  

I am a constant "tail watcher" myself. LOL. Kathy is right though, Oreo's tail goes up at times when he's not scared too, like when he's ready to engage in an important game of ball. UGH, tail language, it's so confusing at times :)

Sounds to me like Marge has made a LOT of progress. Good for you!

Looking forward to hearing about your agility! Good luck!

KB December 2, 2009 at 9:10 AM  

Napping in the crate with the door open looks to me like a great sign that Marge is getting comfortable with it.

Thanksgiving and your walks sound as if Marge did fabulously. I hope that it's a trend that continues! It can be so mystifying to figure out what causes the good and bad days.

I was thinking about the seemingly irrational and sometimes unpredictable fears that my dog experiences (although not so often anymore). I realized that I have days when, for no apparent reason, every single tiny obstacle that I encounter on my mountain bike looks very scary. I'd ride over those obstacles without a thought on most days but I hesitate and sometimes dismount on the occasional scared day. I can't explain it except that human brain chemistry must be more variable than we know. I bet it's true for dogs too.

Cheryl, Indiana, Shingo and Molly December 2, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving. Glad Marge did good with the new folks and the walker!

Woofs and Kisses!

Kari in Alaska December 2, 2009 at 11:40 AM  

Sounds like you guys got some great real life practice in!

PoochesForPeace December 2, 2009 at 12:47 PM  

Glad to hear thanksgiving went well.

Martha December 2, 2009 at 2:46 PM  

Gosh, you two are always so busy you make us bassets feel bad!
We don't have a crate but we thought yours looked very cool!
You could hide away in there.
We are not keen on night walks - well Martha isn't!
Not sure why - we have given up - we go for one very long walk every day and one shorter one so that will have to do!
Keep up all the good work.
Martha & bailey xxx

Dexter December 2, 2009 at 8:18 PM  

People coming into the house can be really weird. The stand around and take up space and look at you and it is all quite disconcerting. Sometimes I just give up and go into the dog cave, but other times I can get kind of grouchy.

We are lucky because our guests come in through the back which means that I can greet them in my yard where there is lots of space and try to remember who is who out there (but fragile senior people would not like that).

I hope you like your giant dog house. Momma is thinking of getting one for PeeWee to ride in in the mastiff mobile (where will I ride)?

All your hard work is paying off. Many steps forward, fewer steps back, right?


Sue December 2, 2009 at 10:16 PM  

It sure sounds like you've made progress this year. Do you think she's becoming less anxious as she matures?

Sam December 3, 2009 at 12:49 AM  

Hmmm.. I'd say it has more to do with the fact that the noise and commotion of summer has finally simmered down. I have a sinking feeling we're going to be in for this up-and-down kind of journey for the rest of Marge's life. At least next summer I will be better prepared for it and can adjust my schedule with Marge to fit her needs.

Muttsandaklutz December 3, 2009 at 6:55 PM  

So much going on, that's great for both of you.

Have fun with the beg/sit pretty stuff. Lucy is really starting getting the hang of it; Walter is taking a bit longer :)

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