Sunday, May 17, 2015

June Trial

In lieu of going on vacation in two days, I thought I would write a post about the things we are working on.

In June there is a club trial. It is important for all club members to participate - in support of the club. My trainer and one of the club members says we should definitely go for the IPO VO.

The VO is essentially a 'basic' version of an IPO1 and is a good title to go for for dogs who are not ready for the 1. It has all three phases but they are shorter and a little less complicated.

I feel pretty confident that we could do okay with the VO. My main concern is his tracking because we are still using food [we can go 20 paces apart], and he is not reliably downing on his articles. While I am away he will be boarding at the sister facility of the place we train. Our trainer is going to track him at least once - just to get an extra track in. The trial is June 13th so we will only have three training sessions, maybe 4 before the trial.

Oh, there is one other minor concern. Yesterday at training they took out a small pistol - during the obedience part of the VO two shots are fired. The dog must be impartial to the sound. Well, it took three sets of shots but I finally realized why when the gun fired Seppel was barking and lunging and staring at the field! The shots sounded just like a whip cracking! Seppel was looking for a helper on the field! On the one hand, I am relieved, I thought it would scare him. However, now we have to practice firing the shots because I am afraid he will leave me during the heeling routine to go find the bad guy! Never a dull moment with this dude.

Here is a video of Seppel practicing a scaled down version on the VO. My yard isn't big enough for the whole routine. Heeling should be at least 30 paces out. I really like how I was able to tell him 'no' over the jump and he corrected himself! We haven't been working on the jump for very long, we have only practiced it a few times. I am really excited that he might actually complete that exercise properly. I don't really care about 'straightness' at this point. I am just glad he will come back over the jump!

Also here is a video of Seth. We were just messing around:

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Seth & The Dumbbell

I am not sure if I ever posted about this before but a year ago or so Seth was clocked in the head with a wooden dumbbell. I was playing around with Seppel and I swung it forward and he was there and it hit him. After that Seth would wince and cower if I had the dumbbell near him and he absolutely would not touch it.

I decided that it was something I wanted to try and get him past, although it wasn't a pressing thing. I used a clicker and started out by rewarding him when he would touch the dumbbell with his face. I practiced it for a little while and then gave him a break. When I decided to try again he actually started offering to put his mouth on it - here is a video:

He completely offered to put his mouth on it by himself. You can see in the video he is pretty hesitant and somewhat stressed about it. Not so stressed that he won't do it, but he really thinks the thing might get him.

A few weeks ago I brought him out to work him and I grabbed the dumbbell. This time he started offering to pick it up! Fairly confidently! Again, I used the clicker to mark the behavior.

Today I decided to try it again and I actually got a retrieve out of the deal!

I am really excited he has gotten this far! He's still a little cautious about it - but I think if we keep building on this it will be less and less of a big deal. It was so cute, a friend walked by while I was messing around with him and when her husband walked up - while we were talking - Seth actually grabbed the dumbbell, on his own, and handed it to the guy! Then the guy gave it back to him and he took it! I could have died, but these folks aren't really animal people so I had to hide my excitement.

One thing I really like about using the clicker is that it is really handy to mark a specific behavior. I can use a word like 'yes', but I feel for whatever reason for some of the more specific things I have tried to teach my dogs that they seem to get it a lot more quickly with the clicker. I am not sure if it is a timing and speed thing? I do think the clicker maybe speeds up the reward time, so it might become clearer to my dogs. Whatever it is - Seth is now able to pick up the dumbbell and carry it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Microchip Failure

I thought I would share my experience finding out that Seppel's microchip no longer works.

Saturday at the trial the dogs have to be scanned to verify their identity via microchip. If the dog isn't chipped but has a tattoo they make sure the tattoo matches the paperwork. Saturday we went to scan Seppel and the chip reader would not pick it up. Another person there had a different scanner. I scanned Seppel all over. The judge knew me and knew my dog, so she vouched for us so we could continue.

On my way home from the trial I couldn't drop the whole microchip fiasco. I stopped at work and tried scanning him with our readers. I then looked up old xrays I had taken of him. I had one chest shot. I could see the chip on the VD [on their back] shot, but could not see it on the lateral.

I called the company because I was worried that he had never been chipped at all. [At that point I hadn't seen the chip in the xray.]. The company confirmed that Seppel had been chipped, his info was all linked to me and the chip was implanted in Florida. I then called a friend and was like "Do you remember if I scanned him?" Talking with my friend I realized that I definitely scanned him because I didn't know if he had a chip or what company he was chipped with. I had to scan him to get the number. I then looked at the xrays again and thought I could see a chip in the one view.

My friend was at work the next day and tried to scan my dog. Nothing. She did point out that the lateral shot I had was not up high enough and maybe that was why I couldn't see the chip. At this point I had thought it had migrated into his chest somewhere.

To make a long story short, my friend was correct. A 2nd lateral[side] xray revealed Seppel's old microchip. We re-chipped him with an AVID ISO/EURO chip. His other microchip is just in front of his new one and absolutely will not work. I called HomeAgain - the company that made the first chip and was told that there is a 1% chance of this happening. They offered to send a new chip, but why would I want a chip from the same company???

This whole thing really kind of freaks me out. If I hadn't gone to a venue where my dog needed to be scanned I would never have known his chip was no longer working. I have the number on file and when I have licensed him etc I just pulled it, I didn't scan him.

The moral of the story - you should probably have your pets scanned at their yearly exam or once in a while check up just to be sure the chip still works!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Seppel got his BH!

Saturday I took Seppel to a trial in Battleground Washington where he earned his BH!

I sent in for my score book several weeks ago and was told the wait would be about 6 weeks for it to arrive. I saw that there was a trial coming up and contacted the club to see if my scorebook didn't come - if it were possible to just try the BH - pay the fee but not get a score. The gal didn't quite tell me no, but just the same it was kind of a no. To my surprise my score book arrived 3 days before the trial! I was able to go up last Wednesday to train with the club putting on the trial. The club was super nice and helpful. They walked us through the BH pattern and I felt really good about the prospect of trialing there. The main reason I wanted to go to this trial is that I figured if we failed, we would be failing somewhere that no one would really know us. I also figured it would give me experience so I could feel more confident at my club's trial coming up in June.

Saturday rolled around and I was SO nervous! Seppel did okay with things, but I had forgotten how weird he can be in new situations. He was a little bit on edge, he freaked out when I scanned him for the microchip. Luckily the judge knew him and knows he's not a psycho. He just gets a bit nervous with new places/new people. He's not dangerous, but he's not the outgoing dog that he normally is at club. I was really lucky to have a friend from club show up to film his BH routine. It's nothing super fancy... I think it'll be quite sometime before we even think of an IPO1 because his obedience is really lacking. I want to get a better heel on him before we even think about it.

Here is the video:

I was really happy with his sit and his down with recall. You'll notice I had to give him some handler help when I asked him to heel. I realized as it was happening what was going on. We have been working on the 'here' command, and for some time he was constantly trying to finish left. I got him to start running at me straight, but I would always finish him to the right - so as to try to eliminate the whole 'finishing left' that he was doing when he got to me. I could tell when I told him to heel he was like "What????" I moved my shoulder because I was like - please just do this. I would have had to help him either way because 'around' is not a solid command yet either for him.

Overall we had a wonderful experience. The trial setting was not as intense as I expected. Granted it was just a small club trial, but overall the atmosphere was really laid back and easy. The other IPO club was full of really nice people and again, my experience could not have been better.

I am also really excited because this means he can do protection in our club when we go to train!

We also went to a Rally match on Sunday, he got the 1st leg of his URO2. It wasn't pretty, I am not sharing the video. I took Seth as well, and he did not qualify for his 1st URO3 leg, it wasn't too pretty either. I may put up the video, but it was just a bad time all around. The judge had a horrible attitude and just kind of set the mood for everything. My friend's dog got her very first title - her URO1. This past weekend was a good one!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

But. But. My Pit Bull is friendly!!!!!!

Last night I got a really disturbing phone call.

My friend, a fellow IPO club member's doberman was viciously attacked by an 80lb Pit Bull.

My friend was walking her dog, on leash down the street when a Pit Bull who was off leash came running at her dog. The pit owner fruitlessly called the dog - who would not come. The dog proceeded to attack my friend's dog, grabbing onto him and holding on. My friend with the doberman is a doberman owner through and through. She kicked the crap out of the dog trying to get it off but couldn't. The Pit Bull's owner could not get her own dog off initially. She did pull the dog off once and he re-grabbed the doberman.

It's not clear to me how they finally separated the dogs, but they did get them apart. The pit bull owner was just in shock because, you know, "her dog goes to the dog park
and he's never done this before".

The first mistake here is taking your "dog friendly" pit bull for granted. I don't care how low your dog's drive is. It is still a pit bull. You cannot determine if your dog will ever 'turn on'. As a pit bull owner it is your responsibility to be cautious with your dog. Be careful with introductions, don't go to dog parks, and to always have control over your dog. For ANY dog owner this should be basic information, but when you own a powerful breed capable of killing another dog you need to take these things even more seriously.

To top it off, if you own a pit bull, regardless of how nice the dog is - you should know that choking a pit bull off of another dog is your best course of action for getting your dog off of another dog. Again, owning this breed it is OUR responsibility to know how to care for our dogs. To know what to do if a fight does happen to break out!

My friend's dog is okay, but they had to place a drain in his shoulder. It's funny because my friend was like "Well, maybe my dog set the dog off."

It doesn't matter! My friend had complete control over her dog on a leash.

My friend's dog is her pet, but he's also her sport dog. She has spent thousands of dollars to have this dog and he could have been killed last night. It isn't about the money, but we are talking about the dog's career being ended before it even began. Simply because one person failed to be responsible for their powerful breed of dog.

I am not a perfect pit bull owner but I have spent a lot of time learning about the breed. I try not to put my dog in situations for him to fail and I don't go out of my way to let him socialize with other dogs. When I do, I make sure I am completely in control of my dog. I've spent a lot of time working on obedience and I also try to be extremely vigilant of our surroundings when we are out and about. While Seppel is okay with some dogs, I am always aware that he has a side to him which is very intolerant. I have seen a few instances where he would gladly go after another dog. How far he would take things, I have no idea. But I have no desire to see.

I hope my friend's dog recovers okay and doesn't become super dog reactive because of this incident. I hope that the pit bull owner stops going to the dog park and makes an effort to keep their dog on leash in the future. It only takes ONCE for something horrible like this to happen. The whole idea is to not have it happen at all. The pit bull owner DID offer to cover vet bill's for my friend's dog and at this point seems to be cooperative, so that's a good thing. However the situation is still really a scary one, and one that happens all too often.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Senior Dog

I was thinking today, while playing ball with the dogs, that I wanted to blog about keeping my senior dog fit.

My dog LiLo will be 10-years-old this month. While I don't consider her really 'old' yet, she is considered a senior dog.

With LiLo, I include her in all of the activities that I do with my other dogs. She plays ball, she chases the flirt pole, and she runs on the slat mill. She also has tagged along on several 4-5 mile bike rides and she keeps the pace along with the boys.

My other dog, Sophie, lived to be 14 years old. While she was never overweight, I did not do a good job of keeping her fit. The last few years of her life I tried to take her biking and it was too much for her. I really didn't have a 'plan' back then and I want to do things completely different with LiLo.

LiLo has hip dysplasia - I've mentioned it in previous posts. Because her hips are crappy it is even more important that she stays fit and in shape. I have her on adequan once a month and she gets flaxseed oil and fish oil daily. I keep her slightly underweight and I give her NSAIDs when she over-does it on the exercise. I do make some small exceptions for LiLo when exercising. I do not throw the ball for her until she is so tired she doesn't bring it back. I do not play flirt pole until she is dead tired. I do not make her run on the slat mill for too long either. I do allow her to get moderately tired when we play, but I try to gauge how she is feeling because I do not want her to be overly sore later.

I plan to keep  playing ball and doing active things with LiLo until she tells me she can't or she doesn't want to anymore.

I think it's really important to keep your dog active into old age, as long as they are physically able to be. Much like human people, I think it makes for a better life for them. As LiLo ages, she may start to slow down and I will alter the things that we do to accommodate that. However, for now at this time, she seems to be keeping up with everything I ask her to do.

Here are some pictures I took of her yesterday:

I think she looks really good for her age :D

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Oh Seppel

On our way to training this morning I couldn't help but think to myself that I can't believe Seppel and I are where we are at now.

When Seppel first arrived I had no idea what I would be doing with him, if anything. Before being exposed to IPO, I was very frustrated with him. He's very different from Seth. Seth picks things up quickly, when I have taught him things it takes little effort and within the first session he usually has some idea of what I am asking. With Seppel he was completely different and much less focused.

It's amazing to me now what I can do with him. I never thought I would ever be comfortable with the idea of him being off-leash. Don't get me wrong, I do not trust him in extremely exciting situations and when he is off-leash I have to be especially vigilant. However, I am able to have him off-leash and trust him mostly to listen to me and to not take off. In a trial setting I don't worry at all, he has no interest in visiting with other dogs and can stay pretty well focused working around them.

It's just really kind of amazing to me. We are still hoping to go for the BH in June. I applied for a scorebook and it should be here in May hopefully. I've been watching a lot of videos and I think we will be okay. The biggest thing for me is remembering the pattern and keeping calm.

We have been going to club on Saturdays. It sucks because it isn't that organized but one of the members has been making a huge effort to help me and one of the other new members. I learned more about tracking and track laying last Saturday. Seppel is doing really well tracking, I am trying to make longer tracks [200 paces] and putting in a few turns and a couple of articles for him to find. He is still not 100% clear on article indication, but we are getting there. I don't know that we will even attempt an IPO1 this year [if he gets his BH]. But I think without a doubt we will be ready next year.

In May I am also going on vacation and will be boarding Seppel with my trainer. I am kind of nervous about it, only because I feel bad that I have to leave him - but I know he will have a good time and I know he will be well taken care of while I am gone. I chose to board him because he has to be crated when no one is home and two weeks is a long time to spend most of the time locked up in a crate. Even though Seth and LiLo will be in the house, they at least can move around. I also think it will be easier on my friend who will be caring for them to just have to deal with them and the cat.

I feel extremely lucky that I found such an awesome person to train with, who will also let me board my dog with them so I know he will be well taken care of. Even though it's hard [omg it's the furmom coming out!], I know that he will be in very good hands.

And speaking of June...

In June it will be TWO years since Seppel's FHO surgery!!!!! I'll need to make a new video, I am so pleased with how successful Seppel's recovery has been.