Thursday, April 28, 2011


Ok, this whole job thing is too cool. My trainers feed raw, they agree with what I agree on, they are so sweet and my gosh, so smart. It is such a hard day at work I tell you. Playing with puppies is tough work, let alone watching their brains work when clicker training.

Today I took Jasper to work, and from now on he will be joining me. You know, today went awesome. I was too worried Jasper would freak out to much but honestly? he did great!! Here and there he whined if I left, but he understood I still come back. The first thing he got to do was play with 4 other dogs! He had a blast, and he played for a good hour. He worked hard with all the chasing! He did herd a bit but Paula said he was herding in a nice way and not biting which was a good sign. We also played on the agility jumps (just a 6 inch jump) and some chutes! That was fun, and in fact, I think I am going to work on agility with him here with small jumps at 6 inches or so. This way I can still teach him everything including teeters and weaves :) We just won't compete!

After play time, we all settled the dogs, had them eat lunch and lay down to rest. I watched a training seminar on DVD as Jasper laid down in his crate and was wondering uhh what the heck mom, I never go in crates! Jasper started to whine. Paula showed me a great idea with whining in the cage. When Jasper whined, he got a sheet thrown over his crate. The moment he shushed, the sheet was removed. The moment he whined, here came the sheet! He picked it up in two sheet movements. He is a very very smart boy. We also worked on crate games so he will eventually enjoy his crate. That went awesome, in fact, I will be video taping it next time. I will be making more videos soon, I just love to see his sessions in playback.

Anyways, today was awesome. I can not wait till puppy class on Saturday where we will see Ricky and Lucy, and Kerri yay!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Day Update

You know, this is all going so fast, and I am not backing out or anything but my life is going to go through a big change I think soon. Since I will be taking on the apprenticeship, I feel I am going to be swamped with things to do, in a good way, but also it makes me nervous.

Jasper, well, he is allowed to come to work with me anytime but I fear he is not going to take it well when I have to put him in the crate and go train with another dog. I am really hoping he will settle after he gets used to the environment and understand I will not be able to play with him all the time. This is a good thing though, I have always wanted to feel like I could do this without worrying about if Jasper is freaking out or not. After he is really settled, he will be allowed to probably roam the room we will be spending our time in doing homework, playing, and training. I really think he will get it, but if not, he can always sit in the car or he will just have to stay home. This place is an all positive method training center, so I don't think they will mind. I mean they all love dogs, so I don't think they would get like frustrated or upset. I will stay positive though, I am sure he will pull through it all and be fine. I mean, it will be great if so so he can indeed come with me to work and learn more!

So today is Easter and it is going ok. We had company come over, Jasper was served some ham and potatoes for his "Easter dinner" and some pina colada yogurt for dessert. *not spoiled at all*

Jasper performed all of his tricks for some kids and their parents today who came over. They were all amazed, and I was proud!

Tomorrow, I will be going to Dog City to learn how to work the front desk and get my key to the building. I am excited to see Paula and the crew again and can not wait to start my job. My favorite part will be training other dogs. I just love to see other dogs work and think, it is so fun!

Jasper also went to the dog park and swam (the usual.. most everyday) a lady, Beverly, will be joining me and Jasper for his first herding lesson next weekend. Yay!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Something I Will Always Love to Watch

I found this video after checking out Paula Weir's site and fell in love with it. It is so sweet.

The Dominant Dog who Never Settles?

At our daily dog park adventure we see all types of dogs. It's like Dr. Seuss: Big dogs, little dogs, scary dogs, frightened dogs, furry dogs, shot haired dogs, fat dogs, skinny dogs, calm dogs, lazy dogs, and hyper crazy mode dogs. And this is where my story starts.

Theres this dog and this lady I see sometimes when we make it out to the dog park in the afternoon. She's a nice lady, but her dog is very, hyper. There is a better word for this, maby overstimulated, yes overstimulated at the dog park. The dog can not sit still the entire time and bothers every dog he sees including Jasper, who was calmly laying on the ground clearly telling the dog hey, I do not want to be bothered, please stop (with Jasper's lip licking, and rolling over on his back.) Ok do not get me wrong, Jasper DOES run and play but after about 30 minutes of good play, he lays down and just watches his friends romp around. In fact, I like that he can settle like that. It shows me that a high energy dog can relax and be just like any other dog, it just seems like high energy dogs get placed into the hands of people who do not understand these dogs needs.

So anyways, I was talking to the lady. She told me how he is part Rhodesian Ridgeback and that Ridgebacks need to be shown who is boss because they tend to be very dominating and control the situation at all times. She explained how the dog controls the house and basically tells her what to do. In other words, he is getting reinforcement for doing naughty or unwanted behaviors without any reason not to. He isn't getting punished, and he doesn't need to be punished either. He just needs to understand that anything he does comes from her and anything he wants, he needs to ask permission first.

Running with dogs at the dog park can be a very big distraction that can turn into a highly valuable renforcement easily. Think about the owners who are being pulled by their dogs straight from the car to the dog park gate. Their owner unhooks their leash and lets them free. Take a moment before reading on and understand what the dog just gained out of this.

The dog learned that pulling on leash all the way to the gate gets him his highly reinforcing reward: running and playing with dogs at the dog park. And this is where us humans can sort of get in the feeling of being "dominated" because our dogs aren't listening to us. If the dog doesn't listen at the dog park, perhaps the dog is just too aroused in this situation to where he can listen. They are not blowing you off, they just can not focus and it may take time for your dog to indeed focus at a dog park!

Look below at this graph. This graph is used a lot in psychology books I have noticed, but this does in fact comply with dogs as well. More about it here. A dog who is highly aroused, just like a human who is highly aroused and anxious, may not perform the best at training in an area of arousal. This would be like us taking a major test at school. We may lose all thought of what we had studied for and completely shut down.

My dog, he loves to swim, but he knows I am the one who lets him swim, so when I tell my dog, "do you want to gooooo swim?" he knows to line up at the dog park gate, set his eyes on me, and when I open the gate, he doesn't bolt, but waits until I give a release. He knows that bolting to go swim will not get what he wants. When teaching him this, he was on a leash, so when and if he did bolt, he wouldn't get in trouble because he still wasn't able to reach the lake. He has learned to settle much more now when I tell him it is time to go swim and is able to listen to what I ask him to do. And this is it. We must set our dogs up for success. If we see something our dogs do that is undesireable, then we need to plan out something next time to help our dogs not yet again seek that undesireable problem and turn it into something desirable. If your dog likes to run with other dogs, have that be a big reward if you can! Let him work for something less desirable in order for him to get something much more desireable!

I love learning more about the Premack's principle!

My Journey into Dog Training is about to Start

Wow, I can not believe I am about to talk to Paula Weir, the owner of Dog City in Addison to take on an Apprenticeship soon. You know, I was astounded to have the opportunity to speak with her, but this is what really really excited me. So, she has her own website right? This is the best part... she knows about vaccine protocols and canine nutrition too. She prepares her dog's meals and includes raw with her diet.

This made me smile from ear to ear. The fact that she knows about these things only make me so much more excited to interview with her tomorrow. If it all pulls through, I can not wait to learn more about what she will have to offer me. I am just, I am speechless!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You've got it all Wrong

Today in our daily journey of adventure, we went to the dog park. Jasper and I moseyed around, and settled at a picnic table for a little bit before going swimming. *Rewarding calmness before an arousing and exciting swim* Anyways before we talk about that, I wanted to say that we met 4 new dogs at the park today. They were all owned by a couple and they sat near us. A lab puppy, a boston terrier, a basset mix, and a husky. They all had a quirk to them. The husky growled at anyone near "his waterbowl" the boston terrier guarded his ball, the basset mix showed multiple calming signals, and the lab puppy just freely bites when she wants to I suppose.

Now Jasper is pretty aloof. He doesn't feel hurt when a dog doesn't want to play or interact, and he usually just walks on by. When Jasper walked to the water bowl, the husky growled and guarded the bowl the whole time. I called Jasper away and then told him to go drink after the husky was done. (That husky was being a goofball, he wasn't thirsty,  he already had a gallon of water, he was being silly) So Jasper got his drink, and walked past the basset mix. The basset mix did all of the following: she licked her lips several times, she turned her head, and she showed her teeth, and yet she never attacked.

I would not call her aggressive but more so a worried dog who is only warning other dogs (even Jasper who had no intention of messing with her anyways) to leave her alone. However if someone else saw these behaviors, would they call her aggressive or deem her to be banned from the park because she showed her teeth? Who knows her history?

Think of it this way. Let's say a child sort of backs away when a dog approaches him or her. Why would they do this? There are probably two reasons. One: a terrible mishap with another dog, or Two: which is highly unlikely, he has never seen a dog before and is just nervous about the whole experience. Why does the child back away? Well, why do you back away when you see a snake out in the grass? Surely you wouldn't go towards it and say leave me alone. And this is just like this basset mix. All she was doing was basically saying hey guys, I mean no harm (by licking her lips, and not making eye contact) and I have a feeling she showed her teeth saying if you bother me, I have a weapon! Just like we would if a stranger approached us in a dark ally, we would break out that mace wouldn't we? We wouldn't be called aggressive, we would just be known as someone defending ourselves. And this is how I think of the dog.  She only gave warnings the whole time, she did not once snap, or bite another dog checking her out.

And yet when Jasper goes to say hi to the female lab puppy, the puppy gets stiff, she freezes, and bites at Jasper's neck. Neither I nor Jasper was traumatized, in fact, Jasper just slowly walked away like geeze lady, sorry! We just left that area and eventually went swimming. However, at that moment, I would have thought the owner would have taken the dog out of the park that very instant instead of just saying, " Eclipse! " in a shocked manner. If it were my doggy, the dog would figure out soon that when something like that happens, sorry, we have to leave now, the field trip is canceled and swimming is too!

Oh well, but it is a lesson in itself. To think that people may call the basset mix aggressive, and yet to see the lab puppy attack.

Anyways me and Jasper.. we have our routine when it is pool time. I started doing some premacking before having him jump in the lake. On our way out of the dog park, as soon as I touch the gate, Jasper knows to sit and watch me, not the lake. Even if I open the door, he watches me and waits till I say "OK"
What I have been doing lately is lining him up from the dog park door, and telling him to stay, while I go about half way to the lake already and release him to the lake. This way, I am teaching Jasper that he works for these life rewards and that I am the one who possesses all of these wonderful things and that he looks to me for guidance before just running like crazy away from me. It's sort of like, if you don't eat your vegetables, you don't get dessert! Grandma's rule! We will eat our vegetables because we want dessert, and Jasper will listen to the things I ask him to do before he gets his lake time.

It is all about premacking. I am going to research more about it today and tomorrow. It seems like a great tool to use. I have heard by using this technique, you will have a dog who will see a squirrel and look at you for guidance asking, "Can I go chase?" instead of a dog just bolting out of your control to it. I love the idea!

Oh and by the way, our drive is getting better while working. I am starting to set the bowl down with food on the floor when we train and he doesn't bother it. His drive to recall is better than it was when we used to have food on the ground. I will have to post a video soon about that. Edit: Video added!

And by the way by the way, I do not understand why I haven't done this but when me and Jasper play games and he gets too aroused, I just need to end the game at that time. Arousal is fine but jumping and biting (on accident) is not ok, even if it was a mistake. Today me and Jasper were playing tug, I took the tug and ran away and he jumped (no jumping in this game) and tried to bite the tug but bit my stomach instead, yeeeeowch! All I did was make an ouch! sound, put the tug up and went back to my computer. Jasper understood what had happened and understood he made an uh oh, and laid on my feet and went to sleep. He is so sweet, he knows I love that!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Go Raw!

An update on Jasper with his raw diet. It is simply amazing. Right now he eats: Chicken, Bison, Beef, Turkey, Cornish Hens, Quail, Duck, Rabbit, Tilapia, Cod, Trout, sardines, Pork, Lamb, Liver, Heart, Kidneys, Venison and I want to find more variety. I am still looking for Goat meat but soon I will find it!

 Jasper's skin is amazing. There is little to no shedding, there isn't any flaking, or smell at all. He has no dog odor and his coat is shiny and soft. His breath is just like puppy breath. It doesn't smell at all. His teeth are still perfect and pearly white with no tarterm nor will he ever need to go to the dentist. His poop decomposes and no longer needs picked up and is also very small. He has much more energy on it as well. He loves his food. There once was a time where he hated his kibble. We had to switch about 5 times and I just gave up and went back to raw. He was on strike and wanted his raw back and I am glad I listened to him. He is reaping from the benefits and the funnest part is sharing my knowledge with others about it and how they can help their dogs with it.

I recently bought an upright freezer with his name on it. Yep, thats right, it only has all of Jasper's food stored inside. I just enjoy pulling the door open the figure out what I should feed next. It is so fun!

I am the "Cool" Mom Everyone Wants

I am that mom who everyone wishes they had.  I am the mom who takes their pup to play most everyday of his life whether it's the dog park, the lake, the woods, a kids playground, Petco, Petsmart, Canine Commisary, and other places we have yet to adventure to. I am that cool mom who play games with my pup and lets him win all the time in tug. I will chase him around as I know he just can not get enough of that by that wiggle in his butt. I am the cool mom, period, end of statement.  Other dogs go "Gee, I wish I had a fun mommy. My mommy makes me sit alot, and listen to her, but we really never have game time or none of that stuff. Maby once in a while but mommy is always busy with life." Jasper struts his big butt around going yea, I've got that mommy. And there are many other mommies like this including a lady I met recently. Her name is Kerri, and she... well she is indeed a cool mommy.

I met Kerri about a month or so ago at the dog park. She had been looking for two new puppies and I of course, biased, I said get aussies! And, she did! She obtained two of the cutest pups in the world, Lucy and Ricky. Funny part is that Jasper and the Ricardos are related, which you know means that they will be very smart young puppies. They already know sit and down at only ten weeks old. Their mommy is taking them on field trips every other day, playing games with them, taking them to puppy class, and researching all she can to do what is best for her pups. She is setting her pups up for success every second of their lives and she is in the right path of pure awesomeness! Her puppies are going to feel the same way Jasper does. They will prance around saying, " I've got a cool mom. "

More on them later!

Back to Work Finally

I mean this is where I can finally say "where do I start" and actually mean it. I mean really, where do I begin? I really do not know what to say so I will start out where I ended which was around when we came home from the crazy trip at grandmas.

Those two weeks after getting home were crazy. Jasper was literally anxious in the car again, as well as when I had to leave home without him. It almost seemed like we were starting all over with puppy hood again. When we went to the dog park, he was so anxious and whimpered forever. Eventually it improved and his anxiety of me leaving the house left once again. A note to myself later on * Socialize the hell out of my next puppy. Take him or her anywhere and everywhere I can, even if it is to stay over at a friends house once in a while with the puppy and let him know everything is ok and it isn't a big deal. * I socialized Jasper somewhat, but not as much as I could of. We met a lady with two new aussie pups who I have been coaching to actually socialize big time as it pays of. I mean no kidding and I know this works out too. We also met a lady from Georgia who has an aussie as well who is always out and about with her husband to other states. Sometimes the aussie gets to go with them and stay with them at hotels, many many hotels, and sometimes she has to stay at a friends house until mom and dad return from their trip. She has absolutely no problem with switching from one place to another. Why? Because she has always been conditioned to this. (We will talk more about this aussie later)

After two weeks or so he seemed to settle down and well when was that... I guess around Christmas. Christmas was fine, so we will fast forward to January, where I enrolled Jasper in his first beginners obedience class. Boy, was I excited, in fact I could not wait! Unfortunately that went down the drain as the teach who was going to train us allowed choke chains, and dare I say ~ shock collars ~ and I did not want my dog seeing these well frustrated people choking and zapping their fellow furry friends. Call me crazy but I did not want Jasper watching other people act in a negative way towards dogs. There is a big difference in attitudes when using a tool like that and I did not want my dog hearing and seeing dogs in pain, or seeing humans throw their upset feelings into the dog. Seriously, that stuff almost makes me want to cry. 

So we found a place who used all positive methods. I was happy! Dog City in Addison was fantastic. I enrolled Jasper in a ring obedience class and it went great. I did learn something though and this is another word of advice for future me * When you have a dog working great, and then distracted with something else, just end the training session on a good note and not over work the dog * Slowly but surely I figured out that training Jasper in smaller sessions like 2-5 minutes impacted on him tremendously. I mean think about a dog in adolescence, a dog who at this age is starting to explore and sort of grow up. Mom meant a lot to him and still does, but like we all do, we grow up and start enjoying other things rather than just mom. We may invest in a hobby, we may enjoy hanging out more with our friends, we may rebel a little, and yet, most of the time, we return back to our moms sooner or later saying you were right, and grow more of a relationship from there.  I am sort of there in adolescence with my own mom and used to be way worse. I thought mom was boring, she didn't know anything and man, I just loved getting out of the house and doing my own thing. And this is what I mean. All dogs tend to go through some kind of adolescence and this is where we all get frustrated. This is where we just give up on training and say, " he is stupid, he knows better, and he will never learn. This is heard time and time again and it is such a shame, but we all have to go through it.

We all want quick fixes. We all want the cheapest, faster fix in our lives. When it comes to dog training, many people get pulled into the world of compulsion, because after all, it usually fixes the problem fast, or... perhaps makes it worse. Sure it may make the dog listen.. but is the dog only listening because he knows if he doesn't he gets some kind of punishment? This dog is only listening for fear that he may be punished. People don't think of that though. They think "hmm wow this really works, I like this", and end up making worse of it. You have a fearful dog that is possibly weary of every situation. You have a dog who possibly gets very anxious around people, or other dogs. Worst part is, you have a dog, who listens to you, because he has to, not because he truly loves working and listening for you.

I will tell you what I have learned. I have learned it takes time, but when you see results, they are very self rewarding. They make your whole day perfect, and best off, they make your bond with your dog stronger. I will let you in on a secret of mine. In the beginning, I was purely positive with my dog, until I met a couple of people who told me to make sure and dominate this dog. They led me to believe that this puppy of 12 weeks was stubborn and would not listen to me and that I better correct it before it gets worse. They told me, if the dog wouldn't come when called, you march yourself over there, grab the dog by the collar and bring him to you at that instant and you tell that dog to SIT. You know what? I listened. Why? Because she knew best because her dog seemed almost perfect! The dog would sit, heel, stay, leave it, everything. I wanted a dog like that so I practiced these behaviors. When Jasper bit me, I did the lip curl ( Taking their upper lip and pressing it firmly on his canine tooth until he yelped.) When Jasper didn't listen, I rolled him over and showed my dominance. And when jasper pulled on the leash, I yanked him back. And when we played tug, I would always win because the leaders always win. He listened to me and I was pack leader... oh my gosh and what the hell was I talking or thinking about. Pack leader?  I think there were moments where I cried. I cried because I thought why am I doing this to the dog I love? Why do I feel like I have to do this? And then I found Kikopup on Youtube. She changed me from that day. I found out about how the word dominance is overly used and is just the wrong word to use when training a dog.

From there things got better. Things felt better too. But there were still times where I just got really angry. I made myself believe that this dog knows better and that he was doing it in spite. And while he did know better, he was definitely not doing anything to frustrate me. He just simply did not want to do it at that time, and it was probably because I was asking too much of him.

When I was really really into training, it was all about what I could teach him and how fast I could train him and yet again I fell into the quick fix of it all. When he didn't learn something or understand something, I would literally blow it. I would tell him NO and get so angry that I would just leave and slam the door shut. What did this teach Jasper? It taught him wow, mom is not fun to work with at all, and I may get verbally punished and I don't like that! He also feared me a little bit with the lip licking, yawning and other calming signals ( click for more about calming signals) he gave me. And to this day, I believe our relationship is still being re built over it. And I totally understand and appreciate that he is even giving me a second chance, like all dogs seem to do with their owners. It has probably been a couple months since I have been doing purely positive happy training with my dog. I mean do not get me wrong, 98% of his life was all positive but I have slipped here and there for sure. But it is put in the past and we are working in the present.

So here we are today.

Thank you to Kerri (more about her later) for suggesting I post once again on the blog. After thinking about it, I feel I would only benefit from it for my next puppy. So anything in bold from now on will usually be tips for me in the future.  I have a ton more to talk about but thought I would end this post.