Monday, January 31, 2011

Slept till daylight!

A friend took this with her I  Phone - I love the sun rays coming over my shoulder.  My Sunny girl!
Just a quick post while Sunny is taking a morning nap........This morning she slept till daylight and then pottied outside!  Yeah!  And last night she hardly fussed at all when I put her in her crate for the night.  I had been lying on the couch by her crate till she settled and went to sleep. I don't crate dogs in my bedroom anymore because I am a light sleeper and they wake me up during the night and of course then I can't get back to sleep.  We have a lot to do today and then this afternoon a trip to the vet for her puppy exam.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fear Periods

I did notice today that Sunny is indeed a little sensitive to some noises, and with that episode last night I do think she is going through a fear period.  It is nothing major and I am not worried about it,  but I will watch and be careful for the next couple weeks that she isn't exposed to anything that might be more than she is ready to handle.  It is just good to recognize these things.  Sunny has her wellness exam with the vet tomorrow and that will be easy as it is just a checkup with lots of hugs and friendly people.

Here is a link to Critical Periods in Your Puppy's Psychological Growth

Crate Training

So sweet and innocent looking when sleeping!
I decided I should put a post in here about crate training.  It is easy to make the assumption that everyone understands the importance of crate training and does it with their puppy.  But in reality, I have worked with a lot of people that don't do this with their pups.  Crate training is a valuable management tool that you will use for the rest of your dog's life.  Some people think crating a dog  is cruel, so I always tell people this saying that I got from somewhere  - don't remember who said it, but , "When the human treats the dog like a human, the dog treats the human like a dog."  'Nuff said.

Here are the reasons you should crate train your puppy.  It  helps with potty training.  It is a great tool for general manners training.  When your dog needs to go to the vet they will be used to being confined and will have less stress about being there.   If you travel and need to stay in a motel or friends house your dog will be happy to be confined.  If  you board your dog they will understand and be content with confinement. Crating your puppy will get them used to being alone - very important!  If you are going to show your dog they need to learn to wait in their crates during the day so they can rest.  And most importantly, when your dog rides in a car they should be crated, or have a seat belt harness on.

There is a ton of information out there on crate training and potty training.  The Internet is a great source of free information, so I am not going to take time to repeat what is already out there. But I will share what I am doing with Sunny and how I use crate training for raising a performance dog.

Some puppies accept crate training a lot easier than others.  I say the more they scream the better dog they make!  Just shows a lot of drive and determination IMO.  Sunny is definitely a screamer.  But it has only taken about four days for her to adjust and she is doing very good in her crate and xpen now.  She still fusses a little bit, but she is learning a routine.  I work at home so it would be easy for me to keep Sunny with me all day long or crate her near another dog.  Of course she does get to be with me a lot, but I put her in her crate or expen so that she is alone for short periods of time.  I want her to learn that she can be alone and not become dependent on always having to have company around.

I don't give my puppies a lot of freedom.  I keep them confined unless I am working with them.  There is some hang time, like now when I am in the office and Sunny is here chewing on a bully stick.  She has a couple toys in here and occasionally I take a break and play with her.  During the day when I am busy she is in her xpen.  I am getting her out several times a day and either playing or going for an exploration walk.  If I can't watch her when I am inside,  she goes in a crate.  When we eat dinner she goes in a crate, or if I shower etc...And of course at night she sleeps in her crate. 

When I finish a walk I put her right back in her xpen.  When I get her out to play and when we start training, she will go back into an xpen, kennel or crate when we are finished with our session.  I don't just turn the dog out into a yard with freedom.  This helps the dog to  absorb the training or play session.  My dogs learn from the beginning that I am the supplier of all good things!  IMO a puppy needs to learn to earn everything.  Too much freedom and the dog will take advantage. Once my puppy has grown up some and is getting trained, she will get more freedom in the yard.  If at any point in the training she isn't working well for me I will cut back on the freedom.  It is sure to happen during adolescence!  I often refer people to Susan Garrett's book called Ruff Love.

One other thing that I don't do with my pups is let them run with the adult dogs in the house.  The number one reason is that I want her to bond with me first.  I'm the leader.  This will make training easier.  The other reason is I don't want the puppy terrorizing the adults - it is not fair to the older dogs in the family!  So I use crating to manage the dogs in the house and yards.  I have a 3 1/2 year old border collie, Flint.  He is very good and tolerant with young puppies.  On occasion I will let he and Sunny play in the office with me at night.   But only with supervision and if I see that Sunny is getting too wild on him I will give Flint a break.  She is a wild little thing and I love it!!  But Flint gets tired of it and I want him to stay tolerant of puppies.  When Sunny is a little older I will let her meet the matriarch of the place, Tina.  Tina will show her who is boss without hurting her.  Sunny will need this lesson  I am sure :-)  I will gradually introduce her to the elders and they will teach her lots of things too.

If I am not training my dog I am managing my dog.  Crating is an important element in that design.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunny's third day here

A tired puppy is a beautiful thing.

Day three and I would say that Sunny feels quite confident in her new diggs.  She slept through the night until 6 am today - yeah!  I have been crating her for short periods in the house and she is accepting the lock down pretty good.  She was very good in her xpen during the day and didn't scream much at all. I notice she is a little shy when people come in to say hi to her.  A fear period could be starting so I will watch for that.  The fear periods can start about 9 weeks old.  There was a weird incident tonight after dinner when she was in the living room and I was fixing human dinner.  I heard her yipe and looked and she had been lying on the floor playing with a toy.  She got very restless and came in by my feet only to leave when the gas oven flame popped on.  She left and seemed agitated and moving around from place to place.  I couldn't figure it out at first and thought she might have a belly ache.  I did give her a few bites of natural balance roll tonight as a hand treat to start introducing a new food.  At any rate she was really nervous about something so I sat with her on the couch and she fell asleep right by my side.  I put her in her crate and finished dinner.  When she came out all seemed normal with her and she started terrorizing the household again so I knew all was well.  Only thing I can figure is that she heard something on the TV - Sam had the news on and they were showing the riots in Egypt.  Then the gas oven was on and it does make a low pop when the flame comes on.  Fear periods are common at this age.  I am going to go and find the information I have on them and brush up on the time frames and suggestions. 

Sunny was a hoot outside today on our exploration walks.  Oh she did make me laugh!  Fearless is an understatement with this pup!  She runs through all tunnels on her own.  The aframe was down very low for a beginners class I had and she ran over there and looked at me and then started over it.  Of course I ran over there and got her off!  I have just been going out with her off leash and she has been sticking pretty close, but today she was very confident about running over to say hi to the retired gang and taking off on her own to explore.  Probably 75 feet or more.  I will start taking a good treat with me tomorrow.  I haven't wanted to introduce anything new until I felt she was settled and poos stayed normal for a few days.  All is good with that so I will take some tidbits out with me tomorrow to reward her for coming to me and checking in.  She liked the natural balance I gave her tonight.  I like to introduce one new thing at a time so if she gets any tummy upset I will know what caused it.

I got her on the grooming table for just a short brush out.  She was such a good puppy.  Cathy did such a good job getting the pups ready for their new homes.  I will  get  Sunny on the grooming table once a day and make it a very pleasant experience for her.  I will start with the dremel tomorrow if I have time.  I know Cathy said she had done their nails a few times already.  Just need to keep that up.  All my dogs stand good to have their nails done - makes it so much easier on everyone if the dogs are started as young pups to accept their feet being worked on.

Puppy Games

During our exploration walks outside,  I also play some games with Sunny.  One is chase me.  I want her to chase me, but I will never chase her.  That game is way too much fun for the dog and can lead to some bad habits.  But if I can get Sunny to chase me it can turn into a fun game and I don't even need a toy to play it.  I start by getting her attention and taking a few quick steps away from her and calling her name and just silly talk.  As soon as I get her running after me I will stop and go the other way.  This should kick in the prey drive.  When the puppy is having a good time with that game then you can run back and forth quickly turning, playing catch me if you can, and getting the pup to really want to catch you.  I don't go too long and then I will let her catch me and then I tickle her belly and just play silly, with lots of  pats on her side and physical contact.  Good exercise for both of us!

I have a lunging whip (for horses)  that I use and it makes for a great game of tug and chase.  I tie a soft fleecy toy on the end of it and snap  that around. Really builds their prey drive and tug drive.   Sunny goes wild over that thing!  I let her carry it around and tug gently with her until she really latches on.  With Sunny it doesn't take much - she reminds me of a shark tearing apart their kill!  She will run around me in a circle  - great thing is she can't run away with the toy.  I think she is a "come by" dog as she seems to prefer circling that way.  I play this for just a short time being careful to quit before she wants to.  When I play this game with any dog I NEVER flip the toy up in the air.  I always keep it low and on the ground.  I don't like for my dogs to jump up high for stuff like that - too dangerous - I worry about injuries.  Be especially careful with puppies doing this type of thing.  A little goes a long way.

Another  game is to get a big beach towel, blanket, or better yet a tarp and drag it on the ground.  Today I started with a beach towel in the house and Sunny was riding it as I drug her around the house.  Then outside I used a small tarp.  She really went wild with that, tugging and jumping on the tarp.  I drug the tarp around and she stood on the tarp all the while tugging - reminded me of a shark!  The tarp makes noise too which is good.

In the house I am  getting her to tug and play with me.  Sunny has a lot of drive for such a young pup and she is already on toys.  Sometimes she prefers my hands to the toy I am trying to get her on.  But I just keep putting the toy in her mouth and directing the bite to the toy.  I will probably end up wearing gloves soon!  I don't want to discourage her from playing with me right now by saying ouch.  I am not going to say anything if she bites me right now.  First I will build her drive to play with me and tugging like a fiend - then later on I will work on the misdirected teeth!  Of course with Sunny I don't think saying ouch would be an issue as she is pretty tough, but I still will build her desire to play with me first. 

One thing I always want to do is cherish and nurture  the drive in my dog.


What trash?  In this can? I wasn't even thinking about it.  Nope - no way.  You got me all wrong.  I was just going to get my bully stick, it's here somewhere.

OMG the antics of puppies!  This girl is cracking me up.  Yesterday I was unloading stuff from a town trip.  I had put everything on the dog room floor so I could open the door to the yard and let Sunny run in and out while I worked at getting everything put away.  Sunny finds a big block of toilet paper from Costco and jumps up there and does her 360 spinning dance and then on off on off on off.  She got wired for speed and flew out the door into the yard and two laps around the yard and then flying back onto the TP block, onto a stepladder that was right by that and then launched herself onto a table.  The only thing missing was the cape flying from her shoulders!  She was about to try flying and I ran and grabbed her before she leaped to the floor.  This pup is fearless! 

I am changing the spelling to Sunny - too many questions about pronunciation and religion.  Keep it simple I always say :-)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Adjusting to a new life

Sunni's first time out in the field,  on a foggy morning  walk.

Sunni meets the retired gang on the other side of the fence - they're grumpy.  But she was right back at the fence two seconds after this!

Another walk in the afternoon - Sunni found the tunnel.

This little gal is quite a powerhouse for such a baby


What a happy face!

There are so many adjustments to life with a new puppy - and it is mostly for the puppy!  Since Sunni was born in the winter in Canada,  she has grown up inside because  it's too cold to go out!  But this little girl is not bothered by anything and is a brave explorer.  In the morning I took Sunni  for a walk out in the agility field and the yards around the house.  She got to meet the retired gang through the fences and I let her play with Flint just a little inside the house.  I don't let my puppies mingle with the adults for quite a while.  The number one reason is I want the pup to bond to me and not the other dogs.  I am not raising a pet, I am raising a partner.  And I don't want the puppy to terrorize the adult dogs either.  It's not fair to them.  I will give her some limited time with other dogs.  She will  learn her social graces and be socialized, but until she learns that I am the most fun and important thing on the planet,  her time with other dogs is limited.  And really, I am a lot of fun :-) 

The first few days with my new puppy is about bonding.  She did have to stay in an expen for several hours.  This was the hardest thing for Sunni.  She just traveled from Canada to California, got separated from her litter mates and the humans she was used to,  and she is not used to being alone.  I did put another dog in a crate near her, but it is still a huge adjustment.  I did this several times during the day.  She wasn't very happy about it and is quite vocal!  But such is life little one.  Of course she was really glad to see me when I came to let her out and we played and I took her for more exploring around the place.  Bonding!

I have never had a winter puppy before.  Sunni was raised inside so she was used to going on papers.  So I got some of those puppy pads.  This is a new experience for me and so far I like it.  You know, getting up in the middle of a winter's night and going outside with a puppy that isn't used to going potty outside  - well, you could end up being out there in the cold for a long time LOL!  So the pads are working great for that.  And Sunni is pretty good about finding them.  For an 8 week old puppy it is pretty amazing really.  Of course she is just an infant and piddles happen.  I bought a lot of paper towels :-)  Right now I won't say anything about an accident off the pads.  In a bit I will just catch her in the act and put her on the pads.  As soon as she gets out of her crate I put her on the pads and of course praise and reward when she goes there.  When she is loose in the house I watch her constantly.  Sunni is easy to predict when she has to go - she gets very busy and starts sniffing and looking around.  When I see her do that I take her to the pads.  She must always be in the same room I am in.  If I can't watch her every second,  she goes in her crate.  No unsupervised puppies  - ever.  I'll update on the potty training as she progresses.

I'm not going to do much else with Sunni for the next few days.  I am going to take a lot of pictures and enjoy every moment of the cuteness!  I am already in love with  this puppy!  I will write more about her personality and antics in my next post.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Caitland Girls Arrive!

Sunny's sister thinks leaves are a good find!

the flowers are a  nice touch :-)


Sunny getting pay back from her sister




The girls made it to California on Wednesday and I drove up to Los Gatos to pick up my puppy!  Driving conditions had been horrible all week in the valley because of the dense Tule fog, but it wasn't too bad that morning.  The four hour drive up there went smoothly and we met the G___'s right as they arrived from the airport.  Perfect timing!  I tried to get some pictures of the sisters playing but it was hard as they were running in and out of the shade, through the bushes and tearing up the landscaping LOL!!  They are both adorable puppies, full of enthusiasm and spunk.

Sunny's sire is Derby and her dam is Dare.  You can see them here:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Life Goes On

Rita at the river on Nov. 10
Rita playing like a puppy in the leaf pile on Nov 22

I started the day thinking about the new little red stinker that will be on her way across the border today.  And I am so happy, thrilled, excited and just bursting with anticipation.  But today I also couldn't keep my mind off of Rita.  Not sure what started it, but I went out into the field this morning  and remembered how she used to jump up and bark in my ear  - yeah - pissed me off sometimes too the little brat.  How she was so demanding and loved to go and do something - anything with me.    Then I cleaned out the van to get ready for the road trip tomorrow and found some of her favorite toys that we took to the river.  Her collar and tags - that did me in.  I cleaned out her crate and brushed away her dog hair.   And then there was the stuff from the last road trip I took to Davis with her - the day before she died.  Maps of Davis, receipts from the  vets.........

An emotional day.  I know there will be more of them.  At the same time I am SO EXCITED about going to get the new little red stinker tomorrow!  Another journey begins, raising a new little aussie puppy.  Life goes on.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wild Horses

It was a beautiful morning so I took Vino and went for a walk.  There was some mist that was drifting in from the valley fog and it gave everything a soft feeling.  Not the best for landscape shots but the horses gave us a show when they came running off the hill.  They kept snorting at Vino and acting silly.  I just love to watch them.  They aren't really wild of course.  They belong to a neighbor who uses them on pack trips into the Sierra's during the summer.  They just think they are wild now that they are turned out for the winter's rest.

The rest of the day was very pleasant weather wise and I got courses built for the week.  I feel lucky to be having some sun while the rest of the valley is experiencing the Tule fog.  It is going to delay my departure on Wednesday to pick up  the Little Stinker in Los Gatos.  It's getting close!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Another beautiful day in Elderwood.  Other areas were socked in fog though, so  much so that a few people didn't come to agility classes this morning because they did not want to drive in the zero visibility fog conditions. So classes were small but we got a lot done and everyone was happy to be in the sunshine here.  The afternoon rally class is a big one and everyone showed up for that.  Makes for a lot of distractions for the dogs to work through.

Flint (my only BC)  is not faring well as a demo dog for that class.  He is stressing and not doing what I know he is capable of- what we have been working on.  He is lagging and not focused on me at all - and will only work if I have food in my hand.........sigh.  And I have been working on delayed rewards and he is doing beautifully in other situations.  Does not bode well for the AKC Rally trial in two weeks.  I miss Rita.  Maybe I shouldn't use him as a demo dog - but then how is he ever going to learn to deal with distractions?  Or maybe he is just not going to be an obedience dog.  More sigh..............Maybe I should bring Vino out of retirement - at least as a demo dog.  I miss Rita.

All in all though it was a good day.  I was pretty tired after 4 hours of classes but took the retired gang out for a romp in the pasture.  The sun was just setting and for a few minutes that beautiful light spread across the field, turning the grass that insane green that I love so much.  I do love to see the retired gang looking so good and so happy! 




Saturday, January 22, 2011

Beginners Class Pictures



 Oh, what a beautiful day it was - at least here in Elderwood.  Students coming in from Fresno and Lemore areas had zero visibility fog to drive through - yuck!

The light was so beautiful, I wanted to get some pictures of the beginners class. Three black dogs were a challenge for sure - Diego being the hardest.  The auto focus just didn't want to zero in on him, well that and the little guy is FAST!

I was pretty happy with the results and ended up processing about 6 or 7 of each dog - I just couldn't stop LOL!!  I usually suck at tunnel shots and today I got several - maybe I am figuring it out!  You can see the rest of them on my Smugmug site

The rest of the day I pruned roses - gosh those things grow a lot during the year.

M is leaving tomorrow to get the puppies in Canada!  I can already smell the puppy breath.  I'm so excited!



The Magic Kingdom

Winters here are like living in the magic kingdom, well, that is unless we have weeks on end of fog.  But when the sun comes out it seems to make it worth the wait.  We are on a stretch of sun right now and my energy is running high.  There are a lot of things to do on the list today so I'm out the door.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beginnings and endings

Getting started on any new project is always hard, but here goes.  I am dedicating this blog to Rita ~ June 9 2004 to December 4 2010.  Little Spot Red Hot Senorita aka: Rita Radical, Little Radicoolie, Re Re,  The Radicoolie One.  What a journey she took me on.   And now, very soon,  another journey begins - a new puppy coming next week!  So after all the sadness of her untimley death, comes some joy.  
I am ready to move on and start a new journey with another little red stinker.  She is the incentive to start this blog.  I thought it would be a fun project to document her growing up.  Puppies grow so fast and I want to cherish every moment of the cuteness.  And it may be of some interest  to others if I can document some of the training process along the way. 

I am imagining that I will say more with pictures than words.  But just like any new adventure, I am going to let the process take over.  So until the little stinker gets here I want to get the feel of  how Blogger works and get into a routine of posting.