Category Archives: Just for fun
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?
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 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.
Obey me. Now.
Something stands behind the commands,
Sword at the ready.
The word floats.
Colourless and clear.
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.
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.