Thursday, April 25, 2013

AOC #4!

We went to obedience class Tuesday, my dad came along which was pretty cool.

We got there early, or rather, we tried to get there earlier - traffic was horrible. We met Ryan to do some protection before class.

Sepp was pretty good. He was so amped that his obedience was a bit lacking, his heeling was... not as good as it should have been, he was forging a lot and REALLY wanted to get Ryan - there goes my theory about our OB class helping us out ;) BUT other than seriously wanting to go for a bite his outs were AWESOME. I mean, he's always out-ed pretty well, but last night he was really good about it.

We went to class after some bites, outs, and transports with Ryan. Sepp did pretty well for most of the class but he still seems overwhelmed with everything going on. I don't mean overwhelmed like he is upset or cannot handle it, but overwhelmed like there is just so much going on that he can't quite focus on what I am asking him to do. A good example being the out of motion sits. He got it right the first couple of times, and then started simply standing - he KNOWS what he should be doing. At one point I was like "I am going to kill you!" and he was like "I don't want to do anything for you because you are going to kill me!" It's amazing to me how much he reads my body language, I can just beat him with my eyes.

My dad says he watches me a lot and tries hard to pay attention, he also said he looked like he was really focused - so we're on the right track!

When it came time to do agility Sepp did great on every obstacle. He still gets a little over-stimulated when she brings the tunnel out, but he is much better at focusing on me while we wait our turn. We're to the point that he's leash-less the entire class.

He will never be a reliable off leash dog like in a park or out in the general public, but it's nice to know that he can be reliable off-leash in a trial type setting.

We've been practicing our out of motion sits and downs. He almost has the sit 100%, the downs still need a lot of work - I'm hoping he can get it together by our next class! We're also going to be doing bitework on Thursday and our trainer said we could take the class that is on Thursday night if I wanted to, I think we will, just to get a chance to practice in the presence of other dogs.

Overall we're doing pretty good. Seppel amazes me more and more everyday, I never thought we would get this far, I never really thought we would do anything. I just thought he would live out his life here, I'm very excited for what may be in store for us in the future!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Advanced Obedience Class #3!

The "king" malamute is back. *face palm*

But the class size is much smaller now that they have things organized there.

However, tonight Seppel was half checked out. A lot of dogs were acting out actually so I don't feel so terrible. There was a lot of howling and screaming happening in the kennel and we later found out they are breeding dogs? So just picture the most dramatic GSD you've ever heard in your life and multiply it time 2 or 3.

I'll admit, we didn't practice anything. I've been house-sitting and it's like it just slipped my mind. There's no excuse really other than I just didn't and I think we paid for it tonight because of it, but Sepp was also just being a bit of an ass.

Everything started out okay but then we started just using voice commands - no hand signals and Sepp wouldn't down when I said 'platz'. Mind you we have practiced sitz and platz A TON so it isn't like he doesn't know - he was just choosing not to listen.

So homework is to work on voice commands and hand signals.

Then we worked on out of motion sits. I was a little annoyed because we have done this a few times at home and he will do it, but here at class he did it a few times and then started just standing and not sitting.

Let's just say - I saw ALL of the gaps in our training this week.

Homework that we WILL do:

-Out of motion sits.
-Voice Commands
-Hand Signals
-right about turn, left about turn, and left U turn.

Everything we did was off-leash tonight and for that he was perfect. I'm starting to feel confident he's not going to dart after a dog now. I mean - I will hold his tab for agility[mostly the tunnel] because he has a hard time holding it in but since we worked on the eye contact thing in-between everything tonight he was giving me eye contact like nobody's business. If something super exciting happened like a dog screamed or was struggling I know he would probably take off - but as it is right now he's proving to be pretty reliable.

He also did really well for all of the agility equipment tonight. He will sit and down on the dog walk, he went through the tunnel and chute without issue, and he jumped up on the table no problem. I'm lucky in that he's familiar with the equipment - I'm actually really excited because I think he would be a lot of fun to do agility with and I think it's definitely something I want to pursue with him after this class is over.

Just to end this with something positive - one thing I was thinking about tonight is how well Sepp rides in the car. Especially on days we go to training he settles in and sleeps the whole way. When he first came here it would take a bit to settle him... but nowadays he is SO good in the car. Training in salem wouldn't be possible if he couldn't stand the hour drive - especially in traffic. We spent an hour sitting in traffic that was moving like 25mph most of the time.

I swear, when he's good he is SOOOO good, and when he's bad, he can be just horrible.

But I love the little stinker anyway.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trimming your dog's nails.

I've been thinking about writing a blog post about nail trimming, I'm house sitting right now and don't exactly have all of the proper equipment to give a good how-to but I did get some pictures with my phone and just thought we could talk about nail trimming in general and what I do with my own dogs.

First off - you need a dog. I am watching a bulldog named Darla so she is my model for tonight. As it is, I have done her nails recently so I don't have very satisfying before and after photos. Anyway, I make all of my dogs lay down for their nails.  It's easier for me to look at the nail and my dogs aren't balancing while I'm trying to work on their feet. I realize not all dogs are keen on having to lay down - Seth and LiLo will roll over no problem. In fact, Seth falls over the minute he sees that I have the dremel in my hands. Sepp on the other hand is a bit more stubborn, he will lay down, most of the time he'll go onto his side automatically, but sometimes I have to push him over. My dogs don't really have an option - take it how you will.

Darla pretty willingly rolls over, I've done her nails enough that she is like Seth and she now 'knows' and will roll over without me touching her.

Once you have your dog in position you can start to get to work. As an example I took a picture of the nail before, and then a picture of a trimmed nail with trimmers, and also took a picture of them after being dremeled. As I'm sitting here I probably should have taken a picture of the dremel I use too - oops! It's cordless and made by dremel pictured here!

Here are the clippers that I use, they are the guillotine style made by resco. I have to say I used to love the resco brand but the quality has really gone down hill the last few years. Lately we open a new pair and they don't clip well, or they close funny. Anyway I prefer this type of clipper. Pictured below is how I personally hold them. I'm fairly certain that if you read the package they want you to hold them the opposite way. The way I am holding them is the way that I was taught and personally. I feel like you have more control when you hold them this way, vs the way they tell you to.

This is the nail before trimming. it's kind of hard to see [gotta love phone pics!] but you can see that there is a little bit of nail that can be clipped off.

After trimming. You can see the quic is exposed [bottom of the nail, is soft in comparison to the nail], the method of trimming I use is a 3-way trim. I trim the front of the nail as well as the sides in an effort to expose the quick. When the quic is exposed to the ground it starts to recede.

This blurry awesomeness is just a reference to show how I hold the toe/nail when I dremel them.

This is her foot with all of the nails dremeled. Again - sorry for the crappy quality. There's also not much to take off, I generally try to just dremel to the quic - to get it exposed.

Here is a picture of Seppel's nails. I've been dremeling them several times a week, sometimes everyday. As you can see there isn't much to take off but if you take off a small amount frequently it helps the quick to recede so your dog can have shorter nails. Especially with his nails being white, I cannot stand seeing excess nail. Honestly - in dog pictures, nails are probably the first thing I look at and I cringe when I see nails that are ridiculously long!


So pictures out of the way - let's talk nail trimming. First of all my method of choice is the dremel. All three of my dogs [four when I had Sofie!] prefer the dremel to the nail clippers. Seth and LiLo tolerate the clippers just fine but they are a lot less fidgety/concerned that I am going to quick them when I use the dremel. With Seppel using the clippers is nearly impossible - someone is going to get hurt, someone meaning Seppel. Every time that I squeeze the clippers he will jump, I even tried holding him for Danielle to do his nails and he still jumped for nearly every nail. Since there's not a lot to work with I'd rather dremel his nails and not have to worry that I might chop off half of the nail when he jumps. 

When I first got Seppel he was afraid of the dremel. Some of it I think was smoke and mirrors because his former owner had said she used a dremel on her dogs. But his nails were a little long, so maybe it had been a while. Initially he tried to run away when I tried using the dremel. He is a reactive dog to things that make noise. As I mentioned earlier, my dogs don't have many options. I put a leash on him and touched the body of the dremel to him so he could feel the vibration. It took a moment but he realized he couldn't go anywhere and the dremel wasn't killing him. I then proceeded to work on a foot and when we were successful we had a huge party with lots of treats and we stopped for the day. Then for a time I dremeled his nails everyday. The routine stayed the same, lay down, I do your feet, you get a snack. Boom. We did it every day until it wasn't a big deal anymore. It's still not his favorite thing but he does well.

Seth and LiLo adjusted to the dremel without issue but they were also good for their nail trims. I've seen dogs who don't tolerate it and have had friends with dogs who don't tolerate it. I honestly could never own a dog like that because a nail trim is a very basic thing and there is no reason for a dog to misbehave or have a heart attack over it.

With LiLo as a puppy I was told she was horrible for her nail trims. LiLo is really what made me insist that my dogs lay down. Long story short we sat on the kitchen floor, my leg over LiLo one hand on her face, one hand holding her foot while I waited for her to quit screaming. After she realized that screaming wasn't actually getting her anywhere I was able to actually trim a nail and give her a treat. LiLo was very food motivated, but a HUGE baby so we had to wait out the dramatics so that she could focus and understand that when I trimmed a nail good things happened. I think I did her nails once a week - just taking the tips off, giving her a treat for each nail. Eventually we got through our nail trims without issue. 

Seth has never given me trouble. He's just a go with the flow dude.

If you are afraid of taking off too much nail and quicking your dog the easiest thing to do is to only take the tips off, and do it once a week to slowly get the nails shorter. It takes some time but it works really well and that way you're less likely to cause trauma to you or your dog. 

It's also important to remember if you DO quick your dog, DO NOT PANIC! DO NOT STOP! I always have some quick stop[styptic powder] on hand, but if you don't have anything like that you can use corn starch. I have also tried flour - but it really didn't stop the bleeding. If you do quick your dog they are not going to bleed to death, it's very important that even though you feel bad, and even though your dog might be stroking out that you finish the nail trim. If you stop trimming the nails your dog will eventually learn that if he freaks out you won't follow through and he can get out of a nail trim. They aren't stupid. 

For those of you who would rather have your veterinarian or a technician do the nails it's important to remember that we can only take off as much as the quick allows. This means that if your dog hasn't had a nail trim in 6mos, we might not be able to take a lot off. I can't tell you how often people say "Get them as short as you can!" Truly if you want your dog to have short nails they should be coming in once a month for a nail trim. Sometimes your vet may tell you that running your dog on concrete or in a tennis court can file the nails but it really depends on how your dog walks in terms of how much they will be able to wear the nail down. 

So - there's a little bit about nail trimming, hopefully this post was somewhat helpful. It's just something I've been thinking about as of late, it's just a part of dog care that I think is really important.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Obedience Class sans the whale and the giant arctic thing.

Yep - that's right! The blue whale and the "king"[seriously people?] malamute are schedule for different days! We don't have to deal with them at all, thank goodness!

Tonight was nothing short of amazing.

We took our leashes off tonight. I was a little concerned only because there are a few small dogs in class and I really wasn't ready to have my training wheels off so-to-speak. But alas, I took Sepp's leash off.

Seppel was GREAT! Tonight we practiced some turns, an about turn [to the right, dog on your left, pretty much turning around], a left U-turn [to the left, dog pivots left], and an about left-turn [you turn left into the dog as the dog comes around you - you end with the dog back on your left.]. Then we went to just hand signals, that was very difficult for me. I would say it was equally difficult for Seppel. He understood some hand signals [sit, down, stay] but it was definitely a learning curve for us both. The hand-signals are our homework for this week.

After completely blowing me away for all of the off-leash stuff he nearly killed me with how good he was when they brought the agility equipment out.

We started with the tunnel. The first round we sent them through, the second round we heeled up to the tunnel and sent them through, the third round we left them at the tunnel in a sit-stay, walked to the end, told them to "tunnel" and then had them sit in front of us at the end. Sepp was soo good! Because he was off-leash he didn't have anything to grab in the tunnel, so no more leash grabbing! Inbetween obstacles I had brought a rope toy for him to play with. We weren't able to get too into it because the 2yr old GSD in front of us was getting amped up about it, after letting him play with it a few times I decided to start asking for eye-contact while we waited for our turn.

I actually felt like we finally connected tonight. Like Sepp actually understood what I was asking even with a bunch of background distraction. It got to the point that when I wasn't paying attention to him he would get fidgety and move like "Hey, I'm looking at you!" We practice this at home from time to time, but I'm definitely going to use the agility time to do it. I was so impressed by his willingness to watch me because there was SO much going on... it was just amazing. I feel like we are finally getting there.

We're also going to do bitework either next week or the week after before our OB class. I'm excited to get back into it and see how the obedience we're practicing applies to bitework and how he behaves.

A year ago [nearly two] I never would have imagined that we could be in a room full of dogs and Seppel would behave himself. I'm so glad we've had this opportunity to take a class because he's really showing me what he can handle and what he is capable of and it totally blows my mind and makes me uber excited for the future!

I'm going to send in paperwork for UKC's limited privilege program, there's a trial coming up in May - I know he could easily get a leg on a Rally title. I don't know that I'll get paperwork back in time, but hopefully I will. Then I can take Sepp for a leg on his URO1, and Seth for a leg on his URO2.

Can't wait until next weeks class, although I will say I'm a little bummed there's no reason to wear my "Know your Bull" shirt ;)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Please keep your blue whale away from my dog!

I feel like the title of this post says it all.

Today was our very first Advanced Obedience Class. I was a little put off by a few dogs who I felt should not have been in the class. However these same people somehow managed to pass the novice class and are moving on??

First there was the woman with the hairy Malamute. She was telling him "no" and "stop" 100 times making a huge scene outside of the building. Already I can tell this woman is dramatic and her dog could have given two shits less as far as what she was saying to him. I approached the building cautiously because she had zero control over the dog.

Secondly there was a woman with a giant blue bully thing, he had his ears cropped and his nuts. She had already let him go up to everyone in the lobby of the building. I stood away from the group of dogs in the building to give Sepp some time to settle in. The blue bully was probably 20ft+ away from us. I was having Sepp do a sit stay when the woman with the blue bully came up - before I could even say a word she's letting her stupid testosterone filled blue whale come up to my dog. I stepped in front of Seppel and I said "UMM HE'S NOT FRIENDLY!" She didn't say anything, just meandered off. I don't think my eyes could have rolled further into the back of my head. Then of course I'm thinking that everyone thinks my dog is mean. However, I didn't care because this is a CLASS - not the dog park! I'm totally going to wear my "know your bull" t-shirt to class one day. I know that if our dogs had latched onto each other she wouldn't have any clue as to what to do. Her dog also proceeded to challenge a GSD in the class... she was totally oblivious to the dog scuffing and didn't realize there was a problem until he was growling and lunging for the dog next to him. Just stupid. I swear people should have to take a test to own a Pit Bull!

Overall the obedience portion of the class went well. Sepp was really well behaved and settled in after we went around the room a few times. They did do an exercise where they downed their dogs and everyone walked around the room. I chose to just stand on Sepp's leash because the people moving freaked him out. The second time they did this he was fine so maybe next time we'll try it. He did a lot better than I would have expected.

After Obedience we get to practice agility and Sepp went crazy. He was whining and barking and acting like a dumbass. An onlooker would think he was a dog who was excited for agility and that I was jerking on his leash for no reason. BUT I know my dog and I know if I would have let him go he would have attacked the tunnel, probably with a dog inside. He was completely amped up because he wanted to bite the tunnel. He was SO amped up that when I sent him - he grabbed his leash because he was THAT frustrated that he could not kill the tunnel. These are the kinds of situations where nothing I says works, I mean I could get is attention in small increments but he'd look at me, then look at the tunnel. I'll be better prepared at the next class and maybe I can work with him on this whole being amped and focusing issue... but he was crazy.

On the flip side he slept the whole car ride home so mentally he was tired!

It kind of sucks having to drive so late in the day - it makes me sleepy. Definitely gonna drink caffeine before we go next week.

I'm excited for this class, it'll be very interesting as things progress.