Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Confessions of a Dog Trainer - 1

I HATE Flexi-leads (retractable leashes) and frequently rant about them but I use one. And I actually own 3 of them <gasp>!

THERE, I said it.

BUT with that being said (aren't there always caveat's for everything??), there are only certain situations that I use them in - potty time.

Flexi-leads were originally designed for hunters who had tracker dogs.
They allowed the dog to wander a certain distance away from the handler
so that he could track unnoticed by prey, but still remain close by. I think it is safe
to assume most people using them are no hunters, and do not have tracking dogs :).

The issue is that people don't know how to use them properly, which is why I hate them in public where most people 'misuse' them. Like all 'tools', if they're misused/abused, they are just as dangerous as anything else. But they do have their place if used correctly. Unfortunately, many people don't use them correctly, and that is when you start hearing all the horror stories - dogs walking into traffic (especially at corners) and dogs getting tangled up with other people, other dogs, trees, etc. As any dog trainer (even me!) will tell you, you usually do not have control of your dog if it's on a long leash that far away from you. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen a dog round the corner seemingly without an owner, only to see the owner 15 feet later, trying to reel the dog in - yank, click, yank, click.

When I use a flexi, my thumb is ALWAYS touching the brake button, and my attention is ALWAYS on my dog and the surrounding area. Plus, I only use them in my immediate yard and neighbor's yard. I do not use them for walks, being in a public places, or training time. They are strictly for potty (especially in the rain so I can stand under the overhang, haha).

Should they be used in all situations? No. Does everyone use them correctly? No. But to say they're all bad is not the truth either. It's COMMON SENSE people! I know such a novel idea...

... it's enough to make your head hurt.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Restoration Projects

Sometimes having dogs (especially those like mine) means not having nice things - like couches, windows, and dog beds that actually match your decor. I'm sure windows and such aren't necessary but they sure do add a lot to a room - namely natural light :). But sadly also a view of things happening in nature, namely squirrels. Damn those squirrels!

Bourbon takes exception to the fact that squirrels are free to use HIS tree and HIS yard to frolic without a care in the world. He got a bit worked up the other day, barking and caring on and all that nonsense at a squirrel, and he just so happened to break the window. Sigh.

The broken pieces. At least they are big shards and the flimsy thing didn't shatter!
View from the outside (with a barrier LOL).

Luckily, he didn't try to go through the window (also lucky that the storm window was down and created a barrier). So now I have baby gates in front of the windows. Classy huh?!? Whatever works for His Majesty I suppose :).

Only slightly prison-like.

So that is on the agenda to get fixed this week. Maybe we'll splurge and put brand new windows in the living room (something my husband is not happy about contemplating). So while Bourbon was busy destroying unnecessary windows, I was picking up the reupholstered sofa cushions. Yea, remember this incident? Well, oddly what I forgot to mention was that while Rookie did most of the damage to the sofa cushion, Bourbon actually started the tear. Yep, that was his first strike - now the window is his second! Bourbon also managed to tear another one, so I had all three sofa cushions reupholstered.

This was the living room while the couch was 'naked.'  I love the versatility
of Xpens! Notice I put down plenty of dog beds for their spoiled little butts :).

The 'new' couch. It's returned to usable status!
The fabric is different but the color ended up matching pretty well.

I chose to use Crypton fabric so I knew it wouldn't quite match the back of my couch since it is microfiber. But I don't think it looks as weird as I thought it might :). At least the Crypton fabric is supposed to be much tougher plus stain resistant and much easier to clean. That I am excited for!!

And we are going GREEN...

in the office :).

Thanks Dad for the painting expertise!

With the orange living room, blue spare bedroom, and now green office, I am well on the way to my rainbow :). We still have to refresh the white trim in this room and then it's focusing on redoing the bathroom. I am thinking yellow and gray for the bathroom. I love colors.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Strut Your Pup

This week Live Healthy Iowa started a new challenge - Strut Your Pup. Of course, I signed up! I have plenty of pups to strut around with :).

The informational flier!

The Challenge

This challenge is designed to get you and your dog(s) out moving together. Dog walking is great for your health (and your dog's health too!). Studies have shown that people who regularly walk dogs may benefit from lower blood pressure, have trimmer waistlines, and suffer from fewer chronic diseases. Dogs are great accountability partners too, they are always ready to keep you active and on schedule! I know my dogs are always ready for activity of any sort :)!

So the idea is that your team is made up of you and your pet. Usually the Live Healthy Iowa teams consist of 2-10 human individuals but not this time! I named my team the Monday Movers :). Creative, huh? Obviously from the team name, I signed up with Monday, although if you have more than one dog you are allowed to record minutes spent with all of them. I might have a somewhat skewed advantage on that though, haha! I decided I would only record minutes spent with two dogs - Monday and Baron. Those are usually the two dogs left out of things anyway, so this should get them some more mom-quality time!

"Are you ready to do something Mom? Huh, Mom, huh? Let's go!"

My Goal

The challenge runs from April 22 to May 31. I've decided, in order to hold myself extra accountable, that I am going to do one blog post a week about the activities we do for Strut Your Pup. Ha, and now you guys can hold me accountable as well :).

Ready to Join? It's not too late to sign up - registration deadline is May 3 at 11:59 pm. And if you don't have a dog - borrow one! :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Why Own A Dog?

Why own a dog? There's a danger you know,
You can't own just one, for the craving will grow.
There's no doubt they're addictive, wherein lies the danger.
While living with lots, you'll grow poorer and stranger.

One dog is no trouble, and two are so funny.
The third one is easy, the fourth one's a honey.
The fifth one's delightful, the sixth one's a breeze,
You find you can live with a houseful of ease.

So how 'bout another? Would you really dare?
They're really quite easy but, oh, Lord the hair!
With dogs on the sofa and dogs on the bed,
And crates in the kitchen, it's no bother, you've said.

They're really no trouble, their manners are great.
What's one more dog and just one more crate?
The sofa is hairy, the windows are crusty,
The floor is all footprints, the furniture dusty.

The housekeeping suffers, but what do you care?
Who minds a few noseprints and a little more hair?
So let's keep a puppy, you can always find room,
And a little more time for the dust cloth and broom.

There's hardly a limit to the dogs you can add,
The thought of a cutback sure makes you sad.
Each one is so special, so useful, so funny.
The vet and food bills grow larger, you owe BIG money.

Your folks never visit, few friends come to stay,
Except other 'dog folks' who live the same way.
Your lawn has now died, and your shrubs are dead too,
But your weekends are busy, you're off with your crew.

There's dog food and vitamins, training and shots.
And entries and travel and motels which cost lots.
Is it worth it you wonder? Are you caught in a trap?
Then that favorite one comes and climbs in your lap.

His look says you're special and you know that you will
Keep all of the critters in spite of the bill.
Some just for showing and some just to breed.
And some just for loving, they all fill a need.

The dogs and the dog shows, the travel, the thrills,
The work and the worry, the pressure, the bills.
The whole thing seems worth it, the dogs are your life.
They're charming and funny and offset the strife.

Your life-style has changed. Things won't be the same.
Yes, those dogs are addictive and so is the dog game.

~Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Get that CAT Bourbon!

This weekend Bourbon participated in the Coursing Hounds of Iowa's Coursing Ability Tests (CATs). While Bourbon would LOVE to chase a real cat, he was instead chasing plastic bags attached to a lure line. Close though, right?!?

He is having a blast chasing those bags :). Photo: Leah Petesch

Lure coursing is a competition sport for sighthound breeds, however the CATs are open to all breeds. Lucky for Bourbon since he thinks he was born for this sport! The dogs chase a mechanically operated 'artificial' lure across a field, following a pattern that is meant to stimulate live coursing.

These were the courses Bourbon ran this weekend.

Let go Mom, I'm ready to RUN! Photo: Leah Petesch/Amy Turner

A typical lure course is between 600 and 1000 yards, but the CATs are 300 and 600 yards. Small dogs (under 12 inches at the withers) and brachycephalic dogs run 300 yards, while medium to large dogs run 600 yards. Bourbon really wished they were more like 1000 yards long because 600 didn't seem long enough for him :). And the fields don't have to be fenced in. The courses this weekend were at Waterworks Park in Des Moines and were not fenced. Talk about giving a girl a heart attack! Bourbon hasn't been off-leash in an unfenced area for several years (since he took off running with deer at Christian Forest Preserve and didn't come back for over an hour). But he did great this weekend, probably because he was so focused on the lure and he's getting old :).

Tally-Ho! And Bourbon is off! Photo: Leah Petesch/Amy Turner
Bourbon's crazy eyes! He is a lovable nutball!
Photo: Leah Petesch/Amy Turner

Bourbon passed both courses this weekend. To qualify (aka Pass) he had to run the 600 yard course in under 2 minutes (no problems there!), complete the course with enthusiasm (um, have you seen the pictures?!? I'd say we have enthusiasm), and stay focused on the lure (again no problems there!). So YAY, Bourbon passed another thing this month!! This boy is on a roll :). He got a ribbon for each qualifying CAT and he got two legs towards his CA (Coursing Ability) title.

Bourbon's FIRST ribbons. It only took him 8 years, LOL :).

Dogs that pass the CAT three times will earn a Coursing Ability (CA) title. Bourbon should have his after the next lure coursing event on May 5th! Check back to see if he achieves his title!! Ten passes and a dog earns a Coursing Ability Advanced (CAA) title, and 25 passes results in a Coursing Ability Excellent (CAX) title.

Bourbon doesn't really care about ribbons or titles (that's more of a Mom thing), he just wants to have fun. And FUN he does have :).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day Rookie!!

Today Rookie is officially adopted ... by us! I know, I know, no one saw that one coming :). After a year and a half of fostering him, there was no way the little dude was leaving. So in honor of his turning 2 years old this month AND getting adopted, I baked him some pupcakes! Yummy...

Rookie's has the Zuke's bone on it since it is his birthday. I put rabbits on Bourbon's in honor of his lure coursing abilities from this weekend (more on that tomorrow!!). The rest have little Blue Buffalo treats on them for decoration :)

A close-up of Rookie's special pupcake.
I got the pupcake recipe from another blog (surprise, surprise) - Pretty Little Pastimes. The link should take you to the recipe - the pupcakes are peanut butter and carrot flavored :). They actually did smell AMAZING baking. The dogs thought they were pretty amazing as well. I know this because most of them gobbled up the treats faster than I could take pictures (Rookie was nice and shared the pupcakes with his brothers and sister).

Behold the swiftness:

I set the cupcake down, Monday swallowed. All gone :)

Baron left a few crumbs from his 'attack' on the pupcake.
Rest assured, he did manage to clean those up :).
Then you have the other two brothers, who apparently like to make sure no one will take it away from them while they enjoy it. Both decided the stairs were the most appropriate place to consume their goodness.

Behold the (mild) resource guarders and slow eaters:

It looks like a pupcake...
It tastes like a pupcake...
It still tastes like a pupcake over here...where no one can take it from me...
It rolled down a step, LOL
It is edible! Yum :)
Is this thing real? Is it for me? What the heck is this?
I'll check it out under the table where it'll be safe. No one can take it from me here.
Nope, top of the stairs is better. It's the farthest I can get away from mom,
she might want to take it back. It's MINE :)
Ok, I better eat it before she decides I can't have it. Yummy...

And the Birthday Boy:

I love pupcakes!
What is this????
And since I didn't get very many pictures of Rookie's first pupcake, I gave him the extra one. It is HIS birthday after all! I caught this one on video:

And I did get him a present. Well, two presents - one is on the way here in the mail (antlers! Thanks Kristen!!). The other one...well he doesn't really enjoy it, it was one of those necessary gifts, not a fun gift. Which is a sign that you are getting older :). Here is his torment:

Poor Rookie! He has an inner tube around his head, LOL. But at least he can't scratch his face or neck!!

Happy Gotcha Day Mr. Stinkyface!!! We really do love you :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

PU! A Very Stinky Rookie Update

Poor Mr. Rookie :(. He doesn't seem to care about his demodex but it sure does look painful to me.

He went to see Dr. Farr last week to see if we could find a more natural way to deal with the mites this time around. Last time he was dipped 10 times AND was on Ivermectin for several months. It was an aggressive approach but full of chemicals :(. Sometimes you have to use that, but this time I'm hoping we can try to build up his immune system instead of just fighting the mites so we can get at the root of the problem.

Dr. Farr put him on an herb called Cool the Blood (Qing Ying Tang). He's been on it for a little over a week now and he is less red and radiating less heat (this little guy has been such a furnace!). But the demodex has still been progressing. So while it has offered some relief, it's definitely not a cure :). Just a tool in our tool box!

Yummy :)
Also, on Monday I took him up to our vet clinic for a lime-sulfur dip. These dips help relieve itchiness and scratching by drying out moist skin irritations. Well, Rookie is one big moist skin irritation :). It did help relieve his itchiness for a few days. Sadly, it makes him stink like rotten eggs and turns him highlighter yellow. Icky.

Sorry for the crappy phone picture! Doesn't he look miserable? :(

He is now a gray and yellow dog!

At least I am still cute!!

Oops...someone forgot they were still wearing a ring!
Sulfur oxidizes silver jewelry so off I went to get it
cleaned after Rookie's dip :). Bad Erin.
While we were at the vet we also did a cold laser therapy treatment on his feet. Laser therapy can help with inflammation, edema, and skin legions or abrasions. Which pretty much describes Rookie's feet. Poor bugger. We have a lot of laser treatments ahead of us!!

It's very painless :).
Let's just say it's been an 'experience' having Mr. Stinkyface in the house this week!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Nose For Competition


So yep, he made mom proud! What's an ORT you ask? It stands for Odor Recognition Test and all dogs have to pass them before they are eligible to trial for K9 Nose Work. It's all very exciting business you know :).

We are waiting to enter the ORT location for our turn!
Bourbon is sporting his red bandana which alerts the world
that he is dog reactive and needs space (as per the K9 Nose Work Rules)!

See it's official - it's in the score book!!

In my Nose Work post last week I covered moving outside of boxes once your dog understands the game and incorporating the surrounding environments. We spent a lot of time on that stage, as we thought it was the most fun! But eventually we moved forward to adding the target odors into our game plan. Nose Work trials cover three essential oil scents - birch, anise, and clove. So far we have only worked with birch and anise.

The odors and carrying case I got from the official Nose Work store.

Different tins I use for 'hiding' the odor. Also ordered from the Nose Work store.

When I started introducing a target odor, I went back to the box basics, pairing Birch Oil (our first target odor) with the dog's reward (food in our case). Going back to boxes is also helpful because boxes are used in ORTs! In an ORT, twelve identical boxes are lined up in two rows of six with one box containing the target scent. The dog has three minutes to locate the target box and have the handler call alert.

I put together a Mock Odor Recognition Test using Birch Oil for the target scent so that you could 'see' what it is like. Although, please note my boxes are not identical (because I just use whatever I can find instead of ordering specific boxes). So you'll have to imagine the identical box part, LOL.

After passing the ORT, a dog is eligible to compete in a Nose Work Trial, beginning at level NW1. NW1 is the entry level for K9NW and is where every dog starts competition. This level only covers the birch scent and each level after adds a scent (so NW2 covers birch and anise, and NW3 covers birch, anise and clove). Maybe this fall we will be ready for NW1!! :)