Category Archives: Just for fun

When he’s bad he’s very very bad.

┬áBut when he’s good, he’s angelic.


Zeke’s new ‘hood

Ah, to all you loyal spammers out there who so enthusiastically boost my readership stats, I apologize. I have not been posting as often as I should; not because I haven’t anything to say (you knew that) but because I’ve been just a teensy bit too busy.

We’ve bought a new property in North Saanich on Vancouver Island. A rancher in desperate need of updating, but very near the ocean. With all the details and duties of buying a property and then preparing our own for sale, I’ve been able to do very little else.

For many years, I’ve longed to live in a more natural environment, but the dogs think it was all their idea. It’s a beautiful level lot with lots of room to run around, a tiny little forested area and a big carport that’s got ‘indoor training zone’ written all over it.

Things are settling down a bit now, so I should be able to post more frequently. Not that there are many of you out there avidly reading this blog. In fact, I’d like to suggest, maybe there’s just one. Sometimes.

Right Ms. McG?

Here’s a picture of the beach, just a block away. Tides in and so’s the kelp.
I may have to change the name of this blog to 1001 ways to entertain your astcd on .86 of an acre.

Tugging 401

I, like many dog owners, am always looking for the magic toy that will make Zeke tug with passion. I have plunked down my credit card for all manner of sexy tug toys; fuzzy animals, flappy armed squeakies, rubber chickens, the list goes on. The packaging usually promises a toy that is both irresistible and indestructible. These toys last about a week before they lie in tatters. I’ve had the best results with sheepskin (the real stuff, naturally), but they are a bit hard to find.

Zeke has a weakness for deflated soccer balls. We used to kick them around the back yard and he would leap upon them, growling and tearing them up. But now that I’m supposed to be building tug drive, kicking is out of the question.

Yesterday I found a punctured playground ball on a school ground which inspired MADNESS. He tugged with it fiercely, squealing like an over-aroused pre-teen at a Justin Beiber concert while I held on for dear life. I pushed a rope through it, giving me a better handle but his ferocity meant that the rope was soon dangling from my hand and shreds of rubber dangled from his jaws.

His tugging focus was so strong that he ignored several distractions that usually would have sent him barking madly towards them. That’s powerful stuff. I’ll head out to the second hand stores tomorrow and see if I can round up a few more.

Susan Garrett’s Games

Susan Garrett demonstrates a fun and effective way to teach “Stand” on her Facebook page. Worked beautifully with Zeke. Her method is in stark contrast to the way the stand is usually trained and performed.
I have learned so much from Susan Garrett’s blog, as well as from her Crate Games DVD. I’d do more, except I run out of hours in a day! I’d love to take her Recaller’s course.
Last summer I taught her Crate Games to my dogs. I gained a much clearer understanding of how to establish and maintain criteria; the “rules of the game”. I also gained dogs who enjoy their crates more and wait calmly in them or at other doorways for release.

If you haven’t checked out Susan’s free webinars yet, try them out.

Tugging 101

So it turns out that being a good tugger takes practice. My dogs tell me that I’ve been a rather poor tugger. They would take the toy in their mouths and I would yank, pull it back or move it from side to side and all around while uttering encouraging sounds like “Git it”. I thought I was making it more exciting, but my tug partners lost interest.

So, think. Why do dogs tug? It’s about pulling prey apart, of course. Long yummy strings of intestines, chunks of furry skin, strips of bloody flesh! Mmmmmmmm. Hungry yet?

So, no more yanking, flaunting or swinging the dog around like a Jack Russell on a rope. That’s a terrier thing, for goodness sake. I grab hold of the Purple Wubba and stand my ground.

Ah, much better. Zeke plants his feet, draws back and pulls hard and steady, eyes fixed on me. Now, he’s happy! Releasing his grip on the Wubba’s three legs, he chooses one and pulls back. Why? Hmmmm, thinner strands of flesh would be easier to strip away…

Feeling even the lightest release or ‘give’, he immediately goes for the extra twist and yank. BOOM, it’s his. Shake, shake, shake, he drops it. Looks up at me, let’s play again!

Two words

Obey me. Now.
Something stands behind the commands,
Squared off.
Sword at the ready.

The word floats.
Colourless and clear.

It’s all just behaviour.
Invited, encouraged, sometimes ignored.
Enticed and shaped,
Fluidly changing.
Washed of any values,
freighted opinions
or fears,
behaviour is simply
what it is.

Mold it like clay,
Press your fingers into it,
a living work of art.

Stand over or stand beside.


The list of things that Zeke doesn’t react to is quite short. It seems I can add Hallowe’en fireworks to that list. Right now, hell’s a popping outside and he’s snoozing on the couch. Earlier, he got up on the arm of the couch to stare out the front window…WATCHING the fireworks in the distance. No barks. Nothing but quiet interest. He’s even helping to keep the Schip calm.
How nice.

Tug versus…

The ball!

Zeke’s toy of choice has been the ball for much of his life. This week, I’ve started working on changing that.
Many trainers recommend playing tug with your dog rather than throwing a ball for him. Tug offers more opportunities to teach useful self control behaviours, including giving up the toy and stopping and starting the play intermittently. The direction of the dog’s nose is mostly towards you and you become associated with the fun, rather than when he is chasing a ball away from you and greeting any number of environmental distractions in the world away from you.
Of course, there’s always lazy, rainy day ball where you can sit on the couch and toss the ball right into his mouth. That game also keeps his focus on you, depending on how good your aim is. But tug games have the advantage indoors too; because they take up even less space.

With tug, you are always pairing the sight of yourself with the pleasure of play. When you are throwing a ball you are pairing the pleasure of play with running away from you.

This isn’t an obvious problem unless you have a reactive dog. And I do, don’t I?
The part I miss is the pleasure of watching a beautiful dog in full flight, but that’s a small sacrifice for the greater good.

Guest post…Kaylah the Schipperke

It’s really hard to understand humans. I think I do better than most, but I remain completely mystified as to what my human was thinking when she brought that unspeakable little brat, Zeke into our once peaceful home. He’s smelly, ill mannered and stupid.

Ok. Not maybe not stupid but certainly not as ‘gifted’ as “She who must be occasionally obeyed just to keep her happy” likes to think. Believe me, when it comes to teaching him how to behave, it’s been quite an uphill battle.

And he’s smelly for sure. You may be aware, Dear Reader, that we Schipperkes do not have any smell. Rather, our lush dense back coats lift and carry only the most pleasant scents from the natural world around us. Here’s a picture of myself, taken a couple of years ago, by the famed photographer, J. Shulman.

If you sniff my coat (as “She” often does) you’ll be reminded of sun splotched meadows with soft breezes lacing their way between fresh grasses, catching on the wild flowers. But a cattle dog? Oh, my, they stink. I’m sorry to have to be so frank, but it’s true.

Still, I would accept the occasional ‘doggy smell’ if he wasn’t so deeply and persistently annoying.

I’ve lost track of the hours, the days, the months that I’ve spent trying to teach that little creep some manners and what have I gotten for my pains? Very little progress and even less appreciation. Sometimes “She” has even taken his side, although she seems to have finally realized that she’s not doing him any favours.

If he hears even the slightest sound he goes dashing off to the door, four paws scrambling in four different directions, knocking over everything in his path, so I bark at him to stop. He doesn’t have a shred of self control and if I don’t teach him better, who will? Not “She who thinks she’s in charge’ that’s for sure. But who do you think gets in trouble for making noise? You guessed it. Moi.

Still, I have to say things have gotten a bit better in the last few months. “She who sometimes gets it right” has been sticking to her criteria a bit more consistently and not just standing helplessly by, letting him call the shots. The only trouble with that is that she’s been tightening up on me at the same time. But hey, I can live with that, as long as that little monster doesn’t forget who’s the top bitch around here.

After all, I sleep on the bed. He sleeps in his kennel. ‘Nuff said.

Kaylah the Schipperke

From KaylahZekePlay

Red Ball

Zeke loves his red squeaky ball. Thanks to my favourite artist, Annie Lennox, for the soundtrack.

September 12, 2011