Archive for July 2012

Walking with dogs, part 3   6 comments

Day to day, it often feels as if Miss D is simply “bat-$*** crazy” (to quote a good friend). But after a weekend away, I can see the progress we’ve made in 18 months. I found my old training log. She used to go crazy-wild at every little thing. I had a long list of possible encounters to train for:

1. Dogs barking in the distance (not within sight)

2. Dogs barking behind fences (within sight)

3. Joggers

4. Joggers with strollers

5. Cyclists

6. Walkers

7. Walkers with strollers

8. Rollerbladers

9. Joggers with dogs

10. Cyclists with dogs

11. Walkers with dogs

12. Walkers with dogs and strollers

13. Inanimates: street lamp poles, telephone poles, street sign poles, poles with cables, orange cones, pinecones, …

Suffice it to say, there were a lot. Each one elicited a different degree of craziness from Miss D. To make it more difficult, the degree of craziness also depended on whether the object was coming towards us in the opposite direction (so she can see it getting closer) or coming at us from behind (so she doesn’t see it until it passes).

We’ve successfully conquered many of them. The ones we still struggle with are the ones that, surprise surprise, involve other dogs.

Tonight we encountered a #12: walking mom talking on cellphone with stroller in one hand, cellphone and dog leash in the other. These types of encounters always make me a little more nervous than I need to be. I always wonder how well the other person will be able to control her dog given all her other distractions. But I can’t allow myself to be nervous. Miss D would feel it and react by defending us. Not the reaction I’m training into her! So I took a deep breath, assumed my “I am in control here” persona, and stepped back from the sidewalk, letting the group pass.

Imagine my astonishment when, instead of lunging and jumping and twirling, Miss D sat down.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She still barked her excitement, but she sat down! YES, Miss D! After receiving her reward, she literally “shook off the excitement”. Another calming mechanism we’ve been working on, which earned Miss D another reward. She calmed down quickly, enjoying her treats, and we continued on our way.

It’s a small victory, but it feels good. Maybe we’re finally beginning to trust each other.

 

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday   1 comment

Thanks, M’Unique for the awesome cushion!

Walking with dogs, part 2   1 comment

Nettie’s mom wasn’t home, so no play date for Miss D tonight. Nettie and her siblings Let.Us.Know. that they saw us walking by. On the return trip, when we got to Nettie’s corner, Miss D sat down and would not budge.

At first, I thought she was overexcited by all the barking and was using one of the calming techniques I’ve been drilling into her. OMG! So she got a treat. But maybe I was wrong. When I turned to press on, she sat down again. And again. And again. She kept looking at me then the house then me again. Begging for another cookie? Or wondering why Nettie can’t come out to play today?

No worries. Being a dog, Miss D has moved on. She is now happily alternating between licking her post-walk ice cube and killing flies.

Walking with dogs, part 1   Leave a comment

Tonight, Miss D and I took our first planned walk with Nettie, the Scottish terrier, and her mom. As usual the initial meet and greet left me nervous. There’s always a lot of barking and excitement, that’s to be expected. But then there’s a bit of a tussle, with Miss D going for Nettie’s ear and Nettie baring her teeth to Miss D, then the humans separating the two and trying to work toward calm.

At that moment, another couple of neighbors and their adorable Shih tzu walk by and stir our dogs up again, so there’s more separating, sitting, and calming. Then let the walk begin!

After that initial tussle, it was more like two four-footed friends checking their mail. There was the occasional butt-sniff, but there wasn’t any more bared teeth or snarls. Miss D didn’t even try to dominate by marking the same spot after Nettie marked. At one point, Miss D started to run forward and just as I was about to pull her back, she stopped. She just wanted to catch up and walk next to Nettie.

So… there’s hope. It helps that we were at the end of our walk and Miss D was already pretty tired. I guess we’ll keep doing this for awhile and then maybe go for longer walks with Nettie and go from there.

Clicker Training   7 comments

I was catching up on my reading and found a blog expounding on the beauty of clicker training. I agree. Clicker training was a beautiful bonding experience with Checkers. She’d hear that sound and come running for Training Time. With Miss D, not so much. The sound the clicker makes scares her off. 

The first thing you have to do before beginning clicker training is to “load the clicker.” You grab a handful of treats. Then get your dog’s attention and click, then give her a treat. Click. Treat. Click. Treat. Soon she’ll associate the sound of the clicker with getting a treat and will do anything you ask if it gets you to make that sound again.

Unfortunately, not so with Miss D. She didn’t want anything to do with anything she associated with that awful sound. Three clicks and she wouldn’t touch the treat. Wouldn’t come near it. Wouldn’t even look at it. She loves food, but those first few treats stayed right where they were, in the middle of the room, for a week, before I picked them up and tossed them. Those treats were verboten in Miss D’s mind.

So, in our house we use the word “YES” instead of a clicker.

Stormy Weather   2 comments

Today’s WTF moment provided by… storms.

Actually, today’s WTF moment is related to the previous moment. You might say they are both brought to you by New Things.

We’ve had a recent spat of stormy weather which brought with it strong winds and the resultant damage. There were several broken branches along our usual night patrol route tonight. Eek! New Things! Each New Thing required a response of either assiduous avoidance or cautious approach. Being human, I have not a single clue as to what criteria Miss D uses in determining her approach, except to say that size is not one of them.

New Things deemed worthy were first approached cautiously, categorized by genus and species, then thoroughly explored and finally picked up and dragged along with us on our rounds until the next New Thing crossed our path.

I’m glad to see Miss D enjoying her patrol again, after the Horrifying Sign appearing on Her Corner. Wish I knew why Signs must be avoided at all costs but dead tree branches are collectible.

Oh the Horror!   6 comments

Today’s WTF Moment provided by … well, you’ll see. That is, if you have the courage to finish reading this post.

Miss D warns that it is SCARY.

It’s the most TERRIFYING thing she’s ever seen in her life!

It’s Psycho, Exorcist, and Poltergeist rolled into one.

It will send your heart POUNDING.

You’ll wish you had COVERED YOUR EYES!

SAVE YOURSELVES!!!

 

 

Oh the Horror!!

 

 

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