October 2010

October 2010


A Trip on the Treadmill

It rained yesterday and all night, and forecasted to rain all day.  What to do?  Fortunately last year, I bought a used treadmill just for days like these.  Kate and Tam, the Border collies have been on the treadmill, so do not need to be trained on it. 

I put Tam on first.  She does the treadmill just like a typical dog would on the Cesar Milan show.  She puts her head down, concentrates, and migrates.  She stays on the treadmill until I come in to turn it off and walk her off.  

Kate was next.  She has always been a miss socialite, so her typical way to do the treadmill is with her head up, looking from side to side, tail medium and waging.  She never has gotten into the grove and 'migrated' on the treadmill.  She has no trouble staying on it until I come for her, she just does not 'get in the groove'!

This is the day for Decker to learn how to use the treadmill.  I had had him on it previously for about 30 seconds, just to see how he would react.  He was fine that first time.  This time, he went through a slight learning curve, then accepted it.  He didn't freak out or jump off or act scared in any way.  For him, it was a new concept to learn.

At first, he kept putting his front paws above the top of the belt, this made only his back feet move.  I chuckled at it.  He did that twice, then with guiding with the leash, he settled into a brisk walk.  I stayed with him his entire 'trip'.  

After about 10 minutes, I sped him up to encourage him to break into a trot.  Eventually he did, and I let him stay in that gate for a couple of minutes, then slowed the treadmill down until he was walking again.  Then three more minutes at the walk for a cool down.

All-in-all, Decker walked on the treadmill quite well, even for a beginner.  He may have trusted me, so accepted it, but what ever the reason, he seemed to enjoy it.   When he stopped, he was excited and wiggley.


The Appraiser Comes to Appraise

We are refinancing our house, and the appraiser came over in the morning.  I had Decker out to monitor his behavior and how he allows a stranger to the door.  I knew when the appraiser was arriving, so I met her at the door.  Decker was terrible!  He growled, and wouldn't relax.  I instructed the appraiser not to look at him, or talk to him and just simply ignore him.  He was corrected for growling, and having her leave him alone, he soon decided that she was no threat.  

I stayed outside on the front steps while she was doing all of the outside measuring and picture taking, protecting her, as Decker is still a liability.  He did fine.  After she was done outside, she went inside to do the same.  I told her that I would be on the computer, working, and when she was finished inside, I would feel comfortable if I escorted her out.  The appraiser was fine with that and understood.  When it was time for her to leave, I escorted her out, and Decker was fine and showed no aggression.

I wish I could afford to have a party here.  I would love to invite all of my friends over for a barbecue and hang out for a while.  That, I think would be a good way to help him quicker.  Perhaps sometime in the near future, I will be able to have some kind of party with many people, in order to further help him.


Back and Forth with Decker

I have noticed recently that Decker has been going back and forth about growling.  I don't know exactly what is going on in his mind right now.  I had the plumber out for a repair, and Decker didn't growl at all.  I had the plumber feed Decker treats and a minute later, he was petting him.

Two days later, the plumber came over with his wife and a friend, to see all of my animals.  That must have been too much at once for Decker.  He was totally uncomfortable with having them here.  Every time that I heard a growl (3 of them), I submitted him, and he urinated.  I stayed outside with the guests in order to protect them, just in case.  After a couple of minutes, I handed the guests some treats for them to give to Decker.  

This was the most nervous that I have seen him since I got him.  Two days earlier, the plumber had petted him, and now he wasn't sure.  Treats were the icebreaker.  He started accepting them, and was a gentleman.  My guests were giving him commands for the treats.  I really liked this.  That is one strategy that I have used in the past with Kate.

When Kate was just about 6 months old, when she was recovering from her surgeries, a child frightened her.    She loved kids before that incident.  Sometimes it takes once and dogs can have trouble for a lifetime.  I have been working with her to not be afraid of kids for several years now.  I don't trust her, but I am now more relaxed with her around them.  I still seek the right kids to help her work through her fears.  Kids that are not afraid of dogs, and thus don't suck a dog in to wanting to defend themselves.  And throwing the ball for her and feeding her treats, was a break through for her.  Just recently, I saw her coming over several boys, to get attention from them.  

And at the same time, I work on me, needing to let go.  I can actually keep Kate in that fear state, by my own energy and lack of confidence in her.  So my dilemma, with both Kate and Decker,  I have to protect the human, first and foremost, then have to allow the dog to grow.  Now with Kate, she accepts older kids, but the toddlers, she is still leery of.  Decker still needs more work, exposure and discipline.  He needs lots of exposure to people, especially at the house, and corrected immediately when he growls.  I additionally think that sheepdog herding with him will raise his self-confidence, and allow him to be more accepting of other people.  

Sheepdog herding will actually do several things for Decker in addition to raising his confidence.  Sheepdog herding gives him a purpose, a job in life, what he was born to do, have a job.  It gives him structure and discipline in life, just what ALL dogs need.  And it gives him affection.  When he is out in the field sheepdog herding, and when he works nicely, he gets feedback from me.  That is affection.  A "good boy", "good job" or a smile and a pat are all affection.  When a dog's needs are met, their minds can't help but be balanced.  

That is my goal with Decker, to attain a balanced mind, and keep it there.


My New Student

Mia my new student and her dog came for her second lesson.  This would be her dog's fourth lesson ever.  I thought that he did real well last week, so I decided to give him a try in the field on his second turn.  I worked him in the round pen first and he did reasonably well.  Decker followed and did well also.  

After the two girls out in the sheep field, it was time for Connor to give it a try.  Many times Border collies don't do as well in small enclosed areas such as round pens.  I thought this might be the case with him.  He had a fairly good stop, and I was confident that he wouldn't crash the sheep into a fence or gate (always a concern when trying a dog in a field situation).  

Connor started out fine, kicking out and giving lots of room for the sheep.  Then he shut down.  He wouldn't go to them.  I tried everything I knew to get him back on them.  I even had Mia come out in the field with us, but nothing worked.  He would get close, but that is all.

I worked Decker out in the field for the second time, and he did fantastic!  He only split up the sheep once.  I was able to get some short fetches on him and move away from the fences.  By the end of his lesson, I was impressed with him, as he did great.

I brought Connor back into the round pen to help regain his focus on the sheep.  He really was shut down.  Time for the next step, I grabbed a sheep by the leg to get him excited.  That move will usually get a dog going real well.  Nope!  Eventually, I brought Mia back into the round pen and still he was off the sheep.

Its kind of weird that he was still off of sheep.  Mia and I were noticing that he was shying to the vineyard cannons going off.  They can sound like gunshots.  He must not like loud noises.  I knew that dark would soon fall, and with that, the cannons would stop too.  But I was hoping to be able to desensitize him to the cannons.

Connor's next try in the round pen was finally successful.  Though the cannons were still sounding, I brought Kate in the round pen to help him.  I have done this a couple of times in the past to help dogs.

Kate is extremely focused and loves to do ANYTHING with sheep, even if it is round pen work.  By adding her in with Connor, the "pack mentality" can kick in, and Connor can get his confidence back, borrowing some from Kate.  It worked!  And Connor was back in the grove and able to work sheep again.  This time, I made sure, that he was still wanting to work the sheep, before I quit him.  Now he may be set up right for next week.


Decker Growls Again!

In the morning I threw the ball for the dogs.  I wanted to burn some energy off of them and was short on time this morning, so the ball would due for a while.  I used the Chuck-it launcher along with a Chuck-it Ultra balls, for added distance and durability.  Since the dogs are so fast, and I am a terrible thrower, I thought I needed the advantage of the Chuck-it thrower.   This would also let the dogs run farther, thus getting more exercise. 

Kate, my eldest Border collie, is a tennis ball popper.  It only takes her a few minutes with a new tennis ball and she has it popped.  That popping of tennis balls is a waste of money to me.  Pressure-less tennis balls are better, but a lot of dogs will "skin" them.  And after Tam got a piece of ball lodged in her intestines, which required surgery, I don't take any chances any longer, out they go.

I have had heard rumors that the fuzz on regular tennis balls can be pretty abrasive to the dog's teeth.  We all have enough problems with our dog's, to add something else to the list, such as dental problems.  I would recommend that if a dog chews and chews on tennis balls, that the owner change the type of ball that he is allowed to chew, in order to minimize problems with abrasion.  

I have used the Chuck-it ultra balls for many years, with no problems, even with popping.  They don't pick up stickers nearly as much as regular tennis balls.    When in use and wash-off easily.  I really like these ultra balls.

There is one more ball that I really like for my dogs to chase, and that is the Huck ball by West Paws Design.  The Huck ball is heavier  than the ultra balls, and depending on wind, will not fly as far as the ultra balls, but they are stronger and almost indestructible.  I have given them to some of the most aggressive chewers that I know, and only one, a picker, was able to touch it at all, and was very minor damage.  Usually I don't even see a tooth mark!  This ball is solid with raised parts on the outside, which can massage the dog's gums and teeth.

During the early evening, I met my neighbor next door to get some zucchini for Decker's meals.  She had never met him before, and I called him over to us as we talked.  He was fine at first, then he let out a little growl.  I excused myself and immediately corrected him, on the ground.  I am suspecting that he is afraid of hats on people.  Every time that he growls at someone, they are wearing a hat.  I guess that I need to be wearing a hat around the house more often to help desensitize him.   

When Kate was young, about 2 years old, she was afraid of hats.  I was at a trial walking around with her and a friend of mine walked by.  He was wearing just the hat off of a coat.  No coat at all!  She came unglued.  I had to correct her several times for it.  Later, I worked on desensitizing her with hats.  Food can be your friend!


No Sheepdog Herding on Dog Day

Today we walked around Atascadero Lake again.  This time it was a little earlier in the morning and there were more people and dogs walking around it.  This was good news for me, I can use this for Decker's training.  There were lots of people walking both ways around the lake.  This means that there is more opportunity to help Decker.  I was able to pass several groups of people while walking, and Decker had to deal with having people behind him.  He is very insecure with that.  After the second group was behind us, he was starting to relax, though not completely. 

I glanced at the Border collies, and noticed that they could care less if anyone was behind them.  I was hoping that they would influence him a bit more.  He just kept turning his head, trying to see the people behind us.  He kept getting corrections until he relented and quit looking and was not as nervous.

Decker and the girls didn't get to do any sheepdog herding at dog day.  Sandy and her husband were on vacation, and left the sheep out in the agility field to help mow it down.  I walked into the field with the dogs and saw the sheep.  The gates were closed and apparently some of the sheep had closed the gate and been caught in the agility field.  I just turned around with the dogs and went to the pool area to let the dogs swim.  Nancy, one of my friends, was there with her Aussie.  I mentioned the agility field to her, and she said that the sheep must be caught in there and can't get to water.  Later I went back into the field to let the caught sheep back in their other pen with the rest of the flock.

The dogs swam and swam, with Tam getting scolded often for constantly drinking gulps of water.  I am pretty concerned about her water drinking while swimming.  She drinks tons of it.  I know that people can die from drinking water too quickly, why not dogs?  When she is allowed to swim for long periods of time, later, she pees and pees, sometimes for almost a minute!  And a half of an hour later, she is needed to urinate again.  So I am thinking that her water intake is not too healthy for her.

Even though none of the dogs got to do any agility or sheepdog herding, they had fun with swimming.

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