Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Ring Stewarding

This past weekend I volunteered to be a ring steward at the Des Moines Obedience Training Club's (DMOTC) local obedience and rally trial. I thought it would be a valuable learning experience and of course I was right :). I am relatively new to the competitive obedience world, well I mean I've been around it for YEARS but I've never actively participated in it or really even sat and watched it. And now I've decided that I should probably see what Monday and I can accomplish in the ring :), so I needed to see what we were up against.

I found my volunteering experience to be very informative. I specifically asked to steward the Novice table so I could watch Beginner Novice (which is where I think I will start with Monday) and also the Rally classes. On Saturday I helped with the paperwork for all the rounds and on Sunday I acted as a post and leash runner. Being a steward also meant I got to see how each round was scored and also to observe the patterns and necessary setup procedures.

I totally found it fascinating to watch the different dogs and handlers work together. There were some good teams and bad teams, a lot of people weren't reading their dogs' signals correctly which made me a bit sad for those puppers. But for the most part, most of the dogs were happy :). A few things I noticed that I will have to make sure I watch out for:

  • Anticipating commands. Competitors sometimes forgot to wait for the judge's command and the dogs sometimes acted on the judge's command before the competitor cued the behavior.
  • Leash handling. Competitors might not realize how much they use that leash to encourage or control but be aware that the judge does see it and it can be penalized.
  • Know and understand the rules. Score sheets for each level are available here so you can look at how much each exercise is worth and what the deductions can entail. Also understanding what type or combination of commands are permitted can either save or fail some exercises.
  • Match your energy to your dog. More and more people are using play in their training which is awesome but they forget to realize that sometimes ring stress means your dog would prefer a gentle butt scratch in stead of a muzzle push back or other high energy moves. I'll have to make sure to watch this Monday.

It was a long weekend but I enjoyed it and will be doing it again. I signed up to help in September and then we have the Cyclone Country Kennel Club show in February so I will be back at then as well.

Monday says she's ready to work!

If you have any pointers, we would love to hear them! Wish us well on our beginner novice journey :)!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

We Won Frosty Paws!

Love and a Six-Foot Leash had a giveaway back in January featuring Frosty Paws made by Purina/Nestle. Of course I entered, and hey we actually won! We received the Frosty Paw coupons and the cute little dog mascot back in February. I know, I know, that was SOO long ago! But I wanted to wait until warmer weather was upon us before I gave the dogs some ice cream treats, and I had a hard time finding them at first. I'm sure the dogs wouldn't have minded, but it just didn't seem appropriate in my head :).

This was our prize! Well and the coupons but I already redeemed those! :)

I decided to let Bourbon have the first taste since he is the oldest :). I don't think I would feed these inside unless you had easy to clean floors or maybe served it in a bowl. It does look like regular ice cream, but I have to admit I did not taste it. It comes in two flavors: original and peanut butter. I busted open the original box first.

Bourbon dug right in...

With Bourbon's obvious vote of approval, I decided to let Baron have the next taste. :) I took Baron outside and put him on the tie-out and brought out a dog bowl to put the ice cream in so this time I didn't have to hold it. I thought I would be smart and unwrap the ice cream completely before giving it to Baron. Well that might not have been my best idea...

He horked it down like there was no tomorrow. I don't think he even tasted it!!

Sadly Monday and Rookie will not get to taste test the Frosty Paws because they are on special diets and there is a lot of crap in those ice cream things :). Vito will be getting his share in a few days...after all he did just have a frosty!!!

If you aren't a stickler for ingredients, you should pick up these special treats for your pup! I think I'll be making my own version at home, that way Monday and Rookie can partake as well :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Story County 4H Fair

This past weekend I spent most of my time at the Story County 4H Fair in Nevada. County fairs are pretty cool, if you have one in your area you should check it out! They aren't as glamorous as the state fair obviously, but they have plenty of fun events (like rabbit hopping) and the kids are always happy to show off their projects. I really think more communities should encourage their kids to participate in 4H, after all their mission is to engage youth in order to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development (which is quite a mouthful!).

The 4H pledge and emblem.

Saturday I spent the afternoon with the Clover kids (kids in kindergarten through third grade which are too young for the regular 4H program). Each year the Clover kids participate in an exhibition show :). It's so cute watching these little kids show their dogs in obedience and conformation. And watch out, a lot of these kids have skills! Sadly, I didn't take any pictures all weekend, bad Erin. I was way too caught up in responsibilities :).

Sunday I spent the whole day 'hosting' the Dog show for all the 4Her's. That was quite the experience. We had four rings going that covered both obedience (Pre-Novice, Sub-Novice, Novice, Graduate Novice, Open, and Challenge Novice) and showmanship with 61 entries. It was a long day, but what a great day! Now that this year is over, I'm already planning for next year :). There will be a few changes to come!
Source: University of New Hampshire extension

To Make The Best Better

The goal of 4H is to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility, and life skills of youth through positive learning programs. And while 4H still retains a strong connection to agriculture, the organization has branched out over many new fields to encompass the urban youth. So even if you aren't into dogs (GASP) or other livestock, you can still many projects to get involved in. While I was in 4H, I also participated in photography, woodworking, computer science, and crafts. See something for everyone :). But while projects are the fun part of 4H, kids also focus on service and community involvement which I think is really important and something that is missing with a lot of our current youth.

Adults can also get involved in 4H, duh obviously because here I am :). Volunteer leaders play a major role in 4H programs and are the heart and soul of 4H. Ah, doesn't that sound pretty :). But seriously it is a ton of fun and we (volunteer leaders) get to help kids achieve self-confidence and self-responsibility. Can't beat that!

In what ways do you help with your community? Are you involved with a local 4H program?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday Training Tips: CGC Test Item 6

The sixth in my Canine Good Citizen (CGC) series going through each of the CGC exercises and offering tips for practicing in order to successfully pass a CGC Evaluation. Test Item 5 was covered previously.

Test Item 6: Sit and Down on Command/Stay in Place

This test will demonstrate that the dog has training, will respond to the handler's commands to sit and down, and will remain in the place commanded by the handler (sit or down position, whichever the handler prefers). The handler may take a reasonable amount of time and use more than one command to make the dog sit and then down. The evaluator must determine if the dog has responded to the handler's commands. The handler may not force the dog into either position but may touch the dog to offer gentle guidance. When instructed by the evaluator, the handler tells the dog to stay and walks forward 20 feet, turns and returns to the dog at a natural pace. The dog must remain in the place in which it was left (it may change position) until the evaluator instructs the handler to release the dog. The dog may be released from the front or the side.

So Your Goal: To master a sit, a down, and a stay in either position.

Training Tips:

Most people have already taught their dog how to sit. This is one cue that all owners seems to be able to get their dog to master. If you haven't taught it to your dog yet, the easiest way I have found to teach it, is to hold a piece of food in front of your dog's nose and lift the treat up over its nose and forehead, keeping it relatively close to the dog. The premise - head goes up, butt goes down. Look there's a sit! Remember to praise instantly and give your dog the treat :). Also remember, these cues can be taught several different ways and I am only going to cover one for each here.

Once your dog has started getting the hang of sit, you can introduce the down. Have your dog in a sit, put the food in front of the dog's nose and lower it slowly straight down to the ground (slightly in front of the front paws) and then move it slowly out away from the dog (at floor level) so the whole movement is in the shape of the letter "L". Down is a bit trickier for most dogs, so you might have to lure your dog for a longer period of time than you did the sit. Don't worry, just work on fading out the lure as soon as your dog understands what you are asking.

Consistency with your cues and hand signals is key to help facilitate your dog's learning. Once your dog is comfortable performing sits and downs in your house, take your show on the road! :) Practice these skills in places where people and other dogs are present. The more you practice in the face of distractions, the better your dog will get.

Now onto the hard one - staying! My dogs hate to stay so I already feel your pain :). I've found that my dogs stay better when they are in the down position, but it differs for each dog. So find whichever position your dog feels most comfortable staying in and use that one for the test, but please plan to teach stays in both positions to your dog :). Have your dog in the position you want them to stay in by your side. I use a hand signal when I teach stay (lowering my hand, palm toward the dog's face) and I recommend that for this stationary exercise. Then pivot so you are toe-to-toe with the dog, standing directly in front of them. Remain there for only a few seconds, then pivot back to the dog's side and release them. Remember praise and treat! :) Once your dog is reliable for the short stay with you right in front of them, you can start adding time and distance, but ONLY ADD ONE CRITERION AT A TIME. So if you increase the time, make sure you stay close to the dog. If you increase the distance away from the dog, make sure you keep the stay short. A note to remember, keep your dog on leash or a long line while practicing this so you have some measure of control (and they can't get away if they are in an unenclosed area!).

If your dog breaks the stay, put them back in the place you started with very minimal interaction. No scolding, no rough handling to put them back, just matter of factly return to them and put them back where they started and repeat your stay - just use lower criterion this time when you leave (either less time or less distance away). Stay can take a while to master so be patient and make sure you get a strong foundation built before moving on to the next step. Remember they have to pass kindergarten before they can go to first grade so apply that to your dog training. Master each small step before building on it.

Next week we'll discuss CGC Test Item 7, Coming When Called.

Don't forget to check out the other CGC test items we've covered:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy 6th Birthday Vito!!

Today Vito turned 6. I just really can't believe he is that old. It doesn't feel like he's been with me for 6 years but he has, oh dear how time flies!! At the beginning of June I shared Vito's story, remember all those cute as hell baby pictures?!? How did that sassy puppy turn into this distinguished gentleman? I have no idea, apparently it happened while I wasn't looking! Since I was busy all weekend with 4H, I was a bad momma and didn't make him a cake or even find time to buy him one :(. But I think he was okay with our compromise...

Where are we going? What are we doing?
It better be fun, it's my birthday and you owe me!!

He got to ride shotgun (he always rides in a crate in the back but I still have all the 4H equipment back there so shotgun it was!) and had a great time checking out the town from the window. And then we pulled into a drive thru and he got really excited :).

Vito is such a ham!
Best birthday 'cake' ever...vanilla frosty and fries :)

We got the food and headed to the nearest park, hoping to get there before the frosty melted too much! He scarfed it down...

Yum, my favorite!

He should be in a Wendy's campaign :)

Oh, no! It's getting low...

When the frosty got too low for Vito to lick out, then it was my job to take the fries and dip them in the remaining liquid and feed them to him. I took my job seriously of course :)...

Salty and sweet :)

LOL, look at his cheeks!

It got easier to just dip them and then throw
them on the table for him to eat, lol.
All in all, he thought it was quite the successful birthday! A little bit of vanilla frosty, some tasty fries, a short car ride sitting shotgun, some park time, and one-on-one attention with momma. I think that was all the good dog ordered :).

I think he looks pretty proud of himself! :)

Happy Birthday my little Vito man!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dog Days of Summer

It's been so hot recently, the dogs have not been eager to go and play. That's quite different from their usual 'we have to run through the backyard at top speed for HOURS or we're going to explode' attitude. The air has been soo humid you can almost taste the wetness in your mouth when you breathe. At least my dogs are short coated, I can't even imagine how it must feel outside for the long coated or double coated dogs. Well, I guess I can imagine it and the visual in my head is the Wicked Witch of the West - 'I'm melting! Melting! Oh, what a world!'. Yes, I'm sure that is what they think when they step outside :).

So what do you do with dogs that have plenty of energy but don't want to melt outside? Everything that you would do if it was raining, which I covered in a previous post. And don't forget the wonderful food puzzles, like the Tug-A-Jug!

But alas, you can't say inside forever! I found a cute, informative info graphic from TheUncommonDog.com that covers tips and tricks to keep your dog cool this summer.

Source: www.TheUncommonDog.com

A fun factoid: Your dog does mainly cool themselves through panting, however they do have sweat glands like humans. Only their sweat glands are located around their feet! Check to see if your dog is leaving little wet footprints :).

We do all these tips and tricks to keep our dogs cool, especially the baby pool. What are some things you do to keep your dogs cool but active in this sweltering heat?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Who's That Hot Chick

Earlier this week I picked up a new foster from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL). She is a cute, petite girl and like most Dobermans, definitely quirky. We are still figuring out her quirks though :). You will have to excuse the quality of my pictures for this post as my camera lens broke so I'm using my old camera and it's just not the same!

Hello! Are you my new family?

Jasmine is about 2 years old and was surrendered to the ARL by her family, who claims they rescued her off of Craig's List a few months ago. Who knows what is true or not, all we know is she is like a bright, shiny new penny all ready for a new family who is ready to give her some love. She is housebroken (YAY!) and crate trained (Double YAY!). That makes my life SO much easier :).

Sadly, she is WAY too thin at the moment. I can count almost all her bones :(. She currently weighs in at about 45 pounds and she really needs to weigh about 55-60 pounds. She is a petite girl and small for a Doberman which gives her a dainty air. Kind of like a ballerina :).

Poor girl, we are working to get some weight on her.
She never stops moving! Perpetual motion...
She needs a lot of work in different social situations and with understanding what the appropriate responses are :), but what young doberteen doesn't? So far she hasn't reacted at all to my dogs spying on her from the hallway so maybe next weekend I'll arrange some one-on-one introductions. For now, she is sequestered away in the blue room hopefully 'detoxing' her stress levels. She did not handle the shelter environment well at all :( so I want to make sure I give her enough time to calm down and relax before throwing more things at her.

She'd make a great working (competition obedience, rally, agility, etc.) dog if she can learn how to handle the competitive environments. She has great focus, is highly food motivated, and seems quite intelligent :). Plus she has a high energy level so she's going to need some kind of outlet for all that energy!!

See, I already know sit!
Food, OMG I love food. Give me food. I will do anything for food.
At least she doesn't drool!
She is available for adoption through Illinois Doberman Rescue Plus (IDR+) and her bio and information should be up on their website shortly (as soon as I get it submitted!!).

People that say 'money can't buy you happiness' have never paid an adoption fee.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Dogsitting Abby

Every now and again I get to dogsit for my friend's dogs. It's usually a nice change of pace compared to fostering because the dogs don't stay as long! This past week I had the pleasure of hanging out with Little Miss Abby. Well maybe I should say Mrs. Abby since she's been around the block a few times :).

Isn't she pretty?

Mrs. Abby is a Dachshund and definitely follows her breed stereotypes for personality. She is a stubborn little thing and was not afraid to tell my dogs what she thought of them. Which was apparently not much, lol. Even Bourbon was shocked speechless, which is quite a feat :). So needless to say, she was kept separate from the crew. I don't think she really minded :).

Abby enjoying a nap on our bed.

It's very different having a dog with short legs and I found her quite comical in action. Bounding up the stairs definitely takes on new meaning when your legs are only 4 inches long! Abby only stayed for 5 days, quite a short vacation, and I'm sure she was happy to get home. It's always stressful to go into another home with multiple dogs (especially my 'in-your-face' dogs), but she handled it well. Especially considering she has separation anxiety. Our current schedules made having Abby over easy because I work during the day while Nicholas is home, and Nicholas worked during the night while I was home. So she was never without a person for more than a few hours when our schedules didn't overlap. But it's still hard to deal with when you are in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people.

I'm cute and I know it.

Good luck on your new moving adventure Mrs. Abby!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Running with the Pack

While we were in Colorado last week, we managed to stop by The Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center for a tour and interactions with the wolves. It was really the coolest thing ever. And it was completely unplanned and just happened by chance, which makes it all the more special.

The first wolf we met was the cutest puppy named Keyni. He was about 5 months old and was a rescue from a situation down in Florida. They walked him out so that we could all pet him and also because they are working with him in different social situations so that he can hopefully grow into being an ambassador wolf that will be able to interact with the public.

All the kids loved him!

I was not impressed with the choke chain sadly :(.

When he got to me, he started licking my pants, lol. I'm pretty sure he liked me :)

Contained But Not Caged

The rest of the wolves we viewed from outside their fenced enclosures. They have 17 wolves, (Artic, Timber, and Mexican Grey), 2 coyotes, 4 red foxes, and 2 swift foxes at the Center, along with some horses, dogs, wolf dogs, and burros. It was quite a menagerie :), definitely my kind of place!

We took soo many pictures, it was hard deciding which ones to share here!!

Here are a few of the other species we learned about:

Swift Fox

Red Fox (which this one is a white colored Red Fox...interesting)
He was also in the middle of changing coats so he is a bit scruffy.


Unleashed and Untamed

While we were there we were also privy to several howl sessions. Boy are those something to behold. Nicholas managed to get part of one on video, it was just so amazing. 

Later on at the end of the tour, the guide tried to get the wolves to howl again. It was quite hilarious and didn't work but the kids enjoyed it...and it was entertaining!

After the group tour was done, people who signed up for VIP tours got to go into the wolf enclosures and hang out with them for about an half an hour. We didn't sign up for that, but we did sign up for a photo shoot. So Nicholas and I got to go into an enclosure and get our pictures taken with a wolf or two. It was seriously the coolest thing ever because we got to feed them and interact with them. They even give kisses!!

It was quite a day, lol. While we did have fun learning about these individual wolves, we also learned about the wolf plight in general and some of the scary things wolves are facing in our political arena. They are such a misunderstood species, mostly because of our grizzly storybook tales, and they really do need our help now. I will be doing some more research into ways to help and shedding more light on what is going on with the wolves nationwide in the upcoming months.

Wolf is the Grand Teacher. Wolf is the sage, who after many winters upon the sacred path and seeking the ways of wisdom, returns to share new knowledge with the tribe. Wolf is both the radical and the traditional in the same breath. When the Wolf walks by you - you will remember. ~Robert Ghost Wolf