Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Food Thing

 It has been an interesting few days with a battle of the wills going on with Sunny's eating trends.  I finally got it figured out though and so did she!  Ends up I can only give her kibble for right now.  No special treats like chicken or meat from my hand for training.  If I do she won't eat her kibble - she holds out and just looks at me or barks at her bowl of kibble.  Smart little stinker :-)  So I backed off the food training and just worked on getting her to eat her food when I put it down.  She also needs to be in a crate to eat good.  Otherwise she wanders off and gets interested in something else.  She did refuse a few meals.  So for the next week or so I will stick with toy games and back off food training until I see that her food motivation is where it should be.  

Sunny is back to tugging really strong after a couple days of backing off.  She is playing with her slap sticks again... racing out to get the tossed stick and then racing back to me with it.  Her focus for staying and playing with me is good again.  There were a few days there where she wanted to run off and check out the other dogs at the fence.  I got her going through a tire that is sitting on the ground for a click and treat and now a tossed toy reward - she thinks she is hot stuff :-)  I have been playing some of the games from the Pup Start 101 DVD.  She really likes it when I hold her back and then race her to the toy.   So far she doesn't seem to want to hoard the toy and go off by herself with it.  That makes toy training so much easier :-)  She is a lot of fun to play with and has a lot of drive for her toys and to play with me.  I keep sessions short and put her away while she is amped and wanting more.  She comes out of her xpen wanting to play!  Oh, I am just having so much fun with her!

UPDATE...  about 10 days later and Sunny is much more interested in feeding time.  She goes in her crate to eat, and cleans her bowl of kibble in a reasonable amount of time.  She hasn't refused any  meals and I can see that her motivation for food is definitely increasing.  She is not refusing kibble from my hand anymore and I have started back with some food training - using only kibble.  We are on the right track!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some Developmental Notes

Flint and Sunny in the late afternoon light

Flint is so good with her

and Sunny terrorizes him too!

Off and running
I got Sunny a tag for her collar and it looks huge on her! 
Teething!  I noticed Sunny didn't want to play with her slap sticks yesterday, and she is not tugging like the shark she was a couple weeks ago.  She loves her bully sticks and rawhide roll.  She was just chewing on the ends of the sticks with the back molars but now I think the front teeth are bothering her too.  I see her working the middle of the stick and on her front teeth.
Ears went crooked yesterday and today I got a friend to hold her and I got them taped.  My second time doing them and I got them even and hanging right this time.  Not too tight and not too loose.  It is definitely a job for two people!
Potty Training is going good since I started using the 10 foot line in the house and keeping her connected to me.    In her expen in the office she has even barked a couple times and I took her outside.  Yeah!
Kicking out after she potties.  I don't know what you call that, but her little butt and back legs are getting going now after she goes potty - so funny.
Buried treasures :-)  A few days ago Sunny started burying things in her blanket, under a couch pillow or hiding something behind the filing cabinet.  It is so fun to watch them develop!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Balance Discs and Wobble Board

The balance discs and the wobble board are great exercises

When on the self timer, the camera beeps and flashes right before it takes a picture - Sunny was fascinated by that.

There is that beeping flashing thing again.

The rain fizzled out in our area and the morning was beautiful.  So I got out the tripod, set the camera on self timer and got some pictures of Sunny on her balance boards.  The first time she got on the board was on her own.  It was out in the field and she ran over and jumped all over the thing.   She has absolutely no fear about these things.  It is also a good way to earn some food.  Oh, the food thing.........EGADS this is one smart puppy.  Here's the story.
Day 3 of N I L I F.  I am using the mixture of kibble, chicken and Natural Balance roll during the day.  Sometimes Sunny says no to the kibble pieces.  And she doesn't want the Natural Balance either!  She wants chicken.  So I am thinking this girl is really playing me and I am falling for it LOL!!  Well, yes, when she got here she was only 8 weeks old and the travel......... and I worried about the little thing and want to make sure she ate good and stayed healthy.  Well, the little dickens is pretty smart and figured me out in a hurry.  So today I decided to put a stop to this picky crap and tonight at dinner I only gave her the rest of her daily ration in a bowl and took out all the tasty treats so it was kibble only.  She turned her nose up at it of course.  I was fixing dinner and she kept coming over and getting my attention and looking REALLY adorable - but I didn't give in.  She went over and ate a little and then the same thing - comes over and lets me know something is very wrong here.  I didn't give in.  Then she goes over and starts barking at the bowl of kibble!!  Oh, it was all I could do to keep from falling on the floor in hysterics.  But I stood tough.  She finally ate the kibble.  I really love this puppy :-)

Friday is my errand day, so I took Sunny and Flint to town with me.  She is a good traveler and chewed on her bully stick or slept while waiting for me.  Flint pouts.   I took her out several times to let her potty and she was  so bold and adventurous - I love that in her.   I bought her a harness while I was in town.  I am going to the Monterey Bay area for a trial next weekend and want to take her to the beach and I am not letting her off leash at this age.  So I thought a harness would  work perfect for being on a long line and running around.  It will work good at the trial site as well. I put the harness on her when I  stopped at a park and took the two dogs for a walk.  Sunny loved that harness and pulled less than when she is in her collar - go figure.  I wish I had a video of her strutting her stuff at the park - what a prancer she can be.  She is so animated and  I was laughing at her antics.  My Sunny girl,  she has ATTITUDE.  A new nick name...Sunnytude.  List of nicknames so far:  Sun buns, buns of steel, funny sunny and I am sure the list will grow.

Recommended Puppy Training DVD

I just got this DVD on puppy training by Jan DeMello.  It is awesome!  Packed full of information!  I will be watching it many, many times and probably taking notes.  Simple and fun games to play with your young puppy using the slap sticks and also food.  All of these games have a purpose and she explains how she uses each game for agility and obedience.  Here is the link to order if you are interested:  I'm heading out to work on her puppy dash game right now!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Balancing Act and Cookie Recalls

Sunny getting on the balance disc - kinda hard to hold a big DSLR and  click and treat at the same time! 
The dust buster!

Slap stick games

Cookie recalls

Day two of N I L I F.  It isn't hard hand feeding Sunny her daily ration of food.  This morning I put the balance disc in the kitchen and she earned her kibble climbing around on that.  I have two of those disc and I will get out the other one tomorrow.  This is excellent work for a puppy as it gets them used to  movement and builds their confidence.  If you don't have a balance disc you can also use a box for them to climb around on.  I will get my friend Denise to get some better pictures of Sunny doing her balancing act.  Kind of hard for me, although I could set up a tripod..........hmmm.......that could happen.

A simple game for puppies is the cookie recall.  I do this in the kitchen.  I take a piece of kibble and throw it a few feet from Sunny and let her go and get it.  As soon as she does I call her name and get her to come back to me for more treats from my hand.  I am using her daily ration with bits of meat or chicken added in for some interest.  Sometimes I will hold her collar while I throw the food so she will really drive to the cookie.  You can do this game outside if you use something bigger that the pup can see, like popcorn or chunks of string cheese.  Build up the distance you toss the cookie so they have farther to run back and forth.

PROGRESS REPORTS..............Sunny is doing good with the slap sticks and retrieving - I am very happy with that progress.  Today when I walked into the dog room with her, she started to charge at Amie's crate and when I called her name she stopped and came back to me!  That was impressive!  Especially since I only got after her a couple times for that.  When I go to let her out of her xpen she is jumping everywhere wanting out.  It didn't take long for her to figure out that I would not open the door until she got down and did a sit.  Now as soon as I go to let her out she sits - such a smart girl!  The 10 foot line that I have her on in the house is working good for the potty training.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Honeymoon is Over or N I L I F

Sunny at 11 weeks

Water bowl fun

Oh, I thought that shade cloth was meant for tugging
Yes, the honeymoon is over!  You know, those first few weeks where your new puppy follows you around everywhere adoring you, coming when called, giving you  kisses drenched in puppy breath and  making that oh so important first impression on you :-)  Sunny has now decided that other dogs are  more fun than I am and following me everywhere is boring  There is a whole new world out there and she wants to conquer it!

So now Sunny is on a long line most of the time, when she is not in an xpen or crate.  I have a 10 foot line for when we are in the house - I tie her to my belt loop, and a 30 foot line when we are out in the field - she can drag that one.  I'll start with why I am using the house line.  We are having some issues with the potty training.  I am still having a hard time reading her and she still thinks going in the house is a fine place to go.  She will potty outside when I take her, but she will also slip off and go in the house without warning - so the line will keep me connected to her - literally!  Instead of running to the door she runs to a corner, or her favorite place - Sam's closet.  I think I will put bells on the door.  I did that with one of my dogs (he didn't know how to tell me he needed to go outside)  and it worked good for him. The other house issues include jumping on tables and eating lampshades, chewing phone cords, eating the couch, and terrorizing Flint - just to name a few!  I could keep her crated, but having her with me on the line is getting in a lot of good training time with her.

Long line out in the field is to keep her from leaving me to go visit the dogs at the fence.  Sunny just started this a couple days ago.  She was staying with me really good on our exploration walks and when I was playing games with her, but she started leaving me for the other dogs.  No - I won't let that happen, so long line it is.  Sunny will get time to visit the other dogs, when I say she can.  She is still tugging and playing with me really good, although she is not bringing the toy back as good as she was.  The long line helps with that too.

Oh, another little red stinker thing she is doing now.........I  come in the dog room after being out in the field working with her and she will run over to Amie's crate and jump -  slam against it and bark at Amie.  (Amie is low girl on the pecking order)  I don't want Sunny doing that!  She is just full of herself and I love that about her, but I don't want her starting bad habits.  So I am dealing with it in two ways.  One is to march over to Amie's crate and grab Sunny by the scruff and tell her NO!  First time I did that Sunny thought she was the boss,  so I had to set her straight about that one LOL!  Little Dickens :-)  I held her down until she relaxed about the situation and when I let her up she did not charge Amie's crate again.  I will also be having her on a long line now so I will work on calling her back to me so she doesn't get to have fun slamming Amie's crate.  But if she does she will get in trouble with me.  I am very positive with my dogs - but I am not permissive!  Sunny is testing everything in her environment right now.  One of the many things I love about her though, after I set her straight, she is just wonderful and has a great attitude.

N I L I F - Nothing in Life is Free.  Sunny is ready for this.  No more food in a bowl for a while.  I take her daily ration of kibble and put it in a zip lock bag and add a little bit of  cut up chicken, meat or Natural Balance.  I keep some of her food on me at all times, either in  my pocket on in a carpenter's apron around my waist.  Sunny is going to learn that she has to earn everything from me.  Sunny is not a chow hound and the first three weeks have been a big adjustment for her.  I wanted to make sure she got settled into her new routine before I started this.  Because if she decides that she won't "work"  for kibble she will be missing some food for a bit.  I know she is healthy and she is growing so I won't worry.  She will take the dry kibble when she gets hungry enough and this will help to build that other important reinforcer - food.

I have started doing some other fun training projects with Sunny and I will share those in my next post.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Puppy Love

Denise and I got together for a Valentine's photo shoot with the dogs.  Sunny looks like an angel.......but!  More about that in my next post.  More pictures from the photo session here as I get them processed:

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunny's Sunday Social

Got it!

Sunny had a really busy day socializing with all the folks who came to the agility fun runs and then the rally class after that.  I brought her out several times to visit and she loved saying hi to everyone.   She was really friendly and had kisses for everyone. 

I let her meet a few gentle dogs:  Blue the beardie, Taika the Finnish Spitz, Birch the border collie, and Jess, the Malinois.  Sunny thought it was all great fun and took all the new experiences right in stride.  She behaved herself too!

When everyone left I let her hang out with the two old girls, Tina 12 1/2 and Amie 12.  I was a little cautious about her being with Tina, who is getting a little wobbly.  Tina is still the alpha around the place though and I thought it was time Sunny met her -  I figured if Sunny got too rough I would just put her away.  The reason I was a bit concerned is because Sunny is a terror with Flint, my 3 1/2 year old BC.  Flint is a gentle soul and he just lets Sunny beat him up. Flint is 22 inches tall and 50 pounds - Sunny is 14 pounds.   She will go flying at him and grab him in the middle with a mouth full of hair and skin and just shake her head like a shark.  And Flint won't discipline her at all!  She also uses Flint's tail as a tug toy and he won't even show a tooth or growl at her.  Sissy boy ;-) 

I had let Sunny play with Amie a couple times before today, and Sunny did not do that.  Amie is a sweetie also, but she just growled a little at Sunny saying "stop that!" and Sunny did stop.  She wasn't nearly as rough with Amie.  So today when she met Tina, Sunny went belly up right off the bat.  Dang - how do they do that.  Wish I could show a tooth and get that response LOL!  Sunny was very respectful with both the old girls and she even got them to play with her a little bit.  Old Tina would chase Sunny and then Sunny would chase Tina.  We walked around the field and the three of them got along beautifully.  I was very impressed with little Sunny and how she showed the old girls that she had some social graces.

Oh, one other thing to note.  Sunny thinks she is an agility dog already!  Okay,  so she runs through tunnels on her own and has since the first day she came here.  But she will try to climb the aframe if I don't watch her.  Yesterday, when I was moving equipment for the fun runs, I took the teeter apart to move it.  I carried the board and put it down on the ground.  Sunny jumped right on that thing and walked back and forth from end to end  - the little tart!  And today, after everyone was gone and I had her out in the field by herself, I look up and Sunny is walking up the teeter and is past the middle getting to the point where it will tip!  Yikes!  I called her name and went running over there and she jumped off - about a 2 foot drop to the ground.  Holy cow and angle fish!  My little Sunny is something else :-)  I just love her!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lock Down!

Sunny in her new office pen
Yep, Sunny is in lock down now!  OMG she is into everything LOL!!!  My other  puppies I raised using baby gates and confined them in the same room I am in.  So when I am working in the office, I would let them have the room and they would occupy themselves with toys and stuffed kongs.  Not Sunny!  She is pulling books off shelves, climbing onto and into the bookshelves, up onto the couch and chewing on lampshades...........yikes!  I am not getting anything done!  My office is really small but I rearranged stuff and put down a vinyl rug and set up an xpen.  Whew!  I can see this phase lasting a long time :-)  I am ready and just LOVE all that curiosity and energy.  What a great working dog she is going to be.

The baby gate is working for the kitchen when I am cooking - although she can climb over that thing in an instant.  I just watch her and remind her that she is not supposed to do that.  She really does try to listen and for a 10 week old puppy I think she is exceptional.  Of course I am biased :-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Getting Those Reinforcers in Place

Sunny at 10 weeks old

She is just full of herself!
Slap sticks made from nylon rope and wrapped with duct tape - they are about a foot long

The first reinforcer that I want to get into place with my puppy is toy drive.  I am not interested in teaching her stationary behaviors right now like sit and down - there is plenty of time for that.  The first things I want in my performance dog is to build the desire to play with me.  Several times a day I play with Sunny and get her tugging and chasing me.  She is even retrieving the toy already!  I started playing the two toy game with her.  I use two toys of equal value.  Slap sticks work great and puppies just love these things.  Cheap to make too!

Take two toys that are of equal value - in other words two toys that are the same.  You do this because the dog may choose one toy over the other as a preference.  Slap sticks work perfect for this game.  I hold one stick in each hand and get down on the ground with Sunny.  To start, I slap the stick back and forth on the ground and get her tugging on one.  When she is really latched onto one stick I just stop tugging with that stick and let it be "dead" while still holding onto it.  Then I start with the other stick (in the other hand) slapping and swishing it back and forth and getting her interested in the other one.  Sunny will jump on the live one right away and that is a good thing!  Then I go back and forth from stick to stick. I want her to switch to the toy that I want her to play with and leave the other one.   I get her all excited about the game and then I quit.  It is important in all your training to quit while the dog is having fun and wants more.  I never want my dog to decide to quit me.

Sunny caught onto this two toy game really fast - she has a lot of prey drive and loves the game!  Now I will start to toss one of the sticks a very short distance.  When she  goes and picks it up,  I will start to slap the other stick on the ground and get her to come right back to me and the live stick.  The idea is that she comes running back with the stick in her mouth and then drops it to get the one that I am slapping on the ground.  Eventually I will be able to throw the stick a long way and she will run out to get it and come flying back to me with the stick in her mouth, we will tug and then I will throw the other stick out for her.  The progress you make with your puppy will depend on the individual.  You don't want to move to the next step until they are going from stick to stick with a  lot of enthusiasm.  And you don't want to throw the stick and have the pup run off with it!!  If you have the type that runs off with a toy you need to keep them on a leash so they don't get in a habit of that.  

Sunny is tugging really strong right now and to encourage her even more I pat her sides and get her all riled up and growling while she is tugging.  I keep the tug at a low angle and let her win a lot.    Sunny does not run off with the toy, but if she did I would just put a leash on her so she couldn't leave.  We have a lot of fun playing together. 

Sometimes a puppy's mouth will get pretty sore from teething and they may quit tugging for a while.  This is common  (when they start to lose their baby teeth) and a good time to start training with food.  Of course some puppies will tug right through teething.  The drive to tug will come back when their mouth feels better.  That is one of the reasons it is so important to start the play training right away.  Another reason is that sometimes a dog is so food motivated they don't want to play with you - they just want the food.  In my training I want to be able to go from using toys as a reinforcer and then food and be able to go right back to using the toy.  Believe me, this is not natural for the dog and you have to have your reinforcers in place to be able to do this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Socialization and Ears

Sunny with her ears taped

Oh, those teeth!  I keep stuffing something in the mouth :-)

She keeps me laughing!

Sunny's perfect ears after the tape came off

Socialization  is so important during the first 16 weeks!  Vets will tell you not to take your puppy anywhere before all their shots are complete, and there is good reason for that.  Where I live there is a lot of Parvo so you have to be really careful.  Lucky for me it is winter and the "season" for parvo isn't here yet.  Sunny has already gotten a lot of socialization  because of all the people that come to agility classes here.  The first two weeks I let people come into the dog room where her xpen is to meet her.  Now I am taking her out to the field so she can visit.  I am not letting her greet their dogs yet though.  I feel very secure in letting my students handle my young puppy.  They are dog savvy folks.

I am going to start taking her places that don't  have much dog traffic. Yesterday I took Sunny to the local FGS store.  She was very friendly with strangers and enjoyed exploring the isles while I got the stuff I needed.  I won't take her anywhere and put her on the ground where she could be exposed to dog feces or stray dogs.  Friends houses are a good place to take your puppy.  Taking them for short car rides a few times during the week is important too.  Sunny gets her second vaccination this Friday and I will add more and more places after that.  I am raising a performance dog and it is crucial that she gets the proper socialization in this critical period.

Now for EARS.  I admit it - I am vain about my dogs appearances :-)  Teething can cause the ears to do all kinds of strange things.  I want Sunny to have a nice ear set as an adult - she is going to be a supermodel you know!  When she arrived Sunny had perfect ears, but a week later they were folding into a "rose" ear.  So I taped Sunny's ears for a couple days using the "taco" method.  The first picture shows Sunny wearing her "pigtails."  I only left them in tape for a couple of days because it was my first time using this method and I wanted to make sure I was getting the results I wanted.  The bottom picture shows how they look one day after the tape came off.  Perfect!  I also trimmed some of the hair off the ears as Cathy said that would help.  Massaging them also helps.  So I will keep an eye on them and if they fold again I will go back to taping for a few days.  Oh, and Sunny did not mind the tape - it was a minor distraction to her for about 1 minute and then she was off and playing.  Would Sunny have perfect ears without taping?  Possibly - but I am not leaving it to chance.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Busy Twelve Days

Sunny's gallery is growing - check it out:

Gosh, it has been a busy 12 days since Sunny arrived.  We are getting to know each other and have gotten a lot accomplished too!  Our exploration walks have been fun with some training time in there.  Her favorite treat is lamb lung, so I take some of that and reward her for checking in with me on our walks.  She is also coming when called - even if she is visiting the other dogs at the fence.  Oh, how I love this age :-)  When she gets into adolescence  those recalls won't be so easy LOL!  I started attaching a light line about 6 feet long and she is dragging that around for part of our walks.  I am gradually getting her leash trained by picking it up for short periods of time and putting a little pressure on it and getting her to come towards me.  Today I took her out into a new area and held onto the leash while she explored.  She is getting used to the pressure and did nicely on a little 5 minute leash walk.

Sunny is eating pretty good.  She is not a voracious eater, I think because she is so busy. She would eat a few bites and run off to play.    I don't leave food down for my dogs.  They either eat now or they miss that meal - that way they don't get spoiled about meal time.  I did that with Sunny too and she still wasn't diving into her food so I decided to add some canned lamb and rice and  that worked perfect.  I noticed the last few meals she has eaten better and not left any in the bowl.  I had also tried cottage cheese and yogurt in her kibble but she wasn't crazy about those.  Finding the right treat was tricky too as she spit the natural balance beef out!  My other dogs love that stuff!  Sunny likes the lamb lung and I might try the NB lamb and rice in a roll next.  I haven't started any "serious" training or clicker work yet.  I want to just spend time getting to know her right now.  There is plenty of time to train and puppy hood doesn't last long.

Grooming is going great - today she let me do all her nails without a fuss!  I told her what a good girl she was and she earned some of her favorite lamb lung for that.  She is a very smart girl and I do think she wants to do the right thing. When I tell her "good girl" she looks right at me and comes in for that treat! I gave her a bath for the first time today.  It was after the pool play.  When her ears got wet that green dye from the tattoo started running and got everywhere.  So right after the pool fun we had bath time.  There was enough dye in that ear for 10 puppies it seemed!  It has been over 2 weeks since the tattoo so I figured it was set.  I got rid of the excess green,  but there is a little staining on the hair on the inside of the ear.  The tattoo is very clear.  The ear  looks a lot better now - all that green dye was bugging me.  Especially when it showed up in my pictures :-)  After the bath it was so nice out, with temps in the 60's,  Sunny and I laid in the grass together playing with a toy.  She was so sweet.

Socialization....I haven't taken Sunny anywhere yet - just to the vet for her wellness exam after she arrived.  She does get a lot of socialization though, because everyone wants to come in and visit when they come to agility class.  Sunny is glad to see everyone and goes around to visit each person to say hi.  Her personality is so bubbly and happy.  I want her to get one more vaccination before I take her off the property.  She has gotten to play with my 12 year old aussie, Amie, who is really good with puppies and will even play with them.  Flint, my BC, has also been very good with her.

Potty training is coming along.  Since Sunny was raised inside and used to going on papers I started with some of those pads.  She did use them pretty good, with only a couple misses, but now I am fading those and getting her outside.  She has her favorite places to go poop and will piddle as soon as I get her outside.  Well, most of the time :-)  Sunny is a busy girl and she can get distracted and get caught up in the excitement of things - especially in the morning.

Crate training is good!  She caught on real fast to being in an xpen, and she has been sleeping through the night.  No protest screaming when I put her away either!  What a good girl she is! 

I am enjoying her so much!  I love how she wants to be with me.  She follows me everywhere and pretty much thinks she owns the place already.  She tries to second guess where I am going and beat me there and has caught on quick to the routine around here.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Photography is a hobby of mine and my friend Denise and I love to dress the dogs up for holidays and have a photo session.  We learn about our cameras, lighting, and in the process the dogs learn to tolerate our antics LOL!  They actually like it because they get  lots of treats and attention.  Of course this is not the only reason I groom my dogs, but they learn early on to tolerate grooming and nail trimming with a dremel tool.

I try to get Sunny on the grooming table every day - even if just for a minute.  I give her lots of treats for being there and make it as pleasant as I can.  I haven't tied her to the grooming arm because she is not leash trained yet (we're working on that.)  I do have a leash attached to her collar though while she is there to help manage her - she is wiggly and I don't want her to fall off! I start by getting her to settle and feed her something really good.  Then I brush her a little, handle her all over, down to the feet and toes and that is it, we go and do something fun together.  Sunny likes the brushing part.

When I start with the dremel I just turn it on and hold it near them the first couple times so they get used to the noise.  I will do this until I see that the puppy is not afraid of the noise.  Sunny was never afraid of the noise, as Cathy had used it on her as a tiny thing.   Then I start by touching each nail quickly and moving on.  I am making the nails a separate process so that every time Sunny is on the table it is not about nail trimming.  Sunny does not like her nails done!  She is a determined little girl, quite strong for her size and age, and she can put up quite a fight.  I just persevere until I get every nail at least touched with the dremel.  I am always working by myself so I have to hold the pup and trim at the same time.  Of course if you have someone to help you (that knows what they are doing) that is a plus, but I don't.  A friend suggested wrapping her in a towel, so I tried that and it worked pretty good.  I didn't have to wrap her in the towel, I just threw it over the top of her back and surrounded her with it.  I was able to get to her feet and touch each nail with the dremel.   It did seem to calm her down about the whole thing.  But basically I just stick with the program and do her nails a little every day until she gets used to it.  The wrestling match will subside as they learn you are not giving up.  Be it young or old, I never let dogs win when it comes to nail trimming!  I will get the job done.  It is just a part of life that dogs have to learn to tolerate and none of them like it.  Much easier on both human and dog to start when they are young!

One thing I am careful about when doing nails - I do not want to reward bad behavior!  So if the puppy is being a brat I am not going to give treats for that.  I wait to give a treat when the pup is settled and not fighting.   That might be after it is all done.

I prefer to dremel because I can keep their nails really short and not quick them.  Once the dog learns to tolerate the noise and vibration, it is really easier on them as there is no pressure like there is in clipping.  Once you have a feel for using the dremel you can actually feel when you are getting close to the quick.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bite Inhibition

Bucket wrestling anyone?
That's it Sunny!  Tell that bucket to get off it's rim and fight!
Atta girl! 
Someone asked me about bite inhibition and I thought it would make for a good post.   I am training Sunny to be a performance dog so I won't work on bite inhibition for a while.  Sunny is a  like a shark with those teeth, so I am just careful when I play with her and keep directing her bite to a toy.   I won't correct her biting me BECAUSE I want a ton of play drive for training.  Sunny is a very busy puppy and has a lot of drive.  I want to build all that drive and then direct it to agility, obedience and play.  So I just take the bites for now and keep directing those teeth to the toy.  In a few weeks it will get better and she will be on the toy more.  If I work on bite inhibition now it will squish some of her drive and I want it all!  I want an intense, demanding and high drive partner.

Now, not everyone wants that in their dog.  And honestly, a lot of people can't handle a dog with that much drive.  It is a lot of extra work on the trainers part and you have to have good timing with toys, and know what you are doing.  Otherwise you get "leaky" drive and the dog doesn't understand how to control their state of mind and the dog gets too wild and crazy and can't learn.  Dogs have to learn to think in drive mode.

A lot of pet trainers will tell you to never tug with your dog, that it will lead to aggression problems - I have heard all kinds of things over the years!  Performance dog people usually don't think that way.  We want our dogs to tug like maniacs!  So it really depends on what you want in your dog.  If you want a family dog that is going to be around children you will want to teach bite inhibition from the beginning. If you are a quiet person that just wants to have fun with your dog and enjoy agility but not have an over the top dog, then you will want to start with bite inhibition from the beginning.

However, if you have a soft dog, and you want to do dog sports, I would not do bite inhibition until the dog is playing with you.  It is too easy to squish a soft dog's desire to work.  Once you teach them to go slow it is hard to teach them to speed up.
In my experience, if you just keep directing the puppy to the toy they will get the idea in a few weeks and start going to the toy.  However, if they don't get on the toy and prefer skin, you definitely need to address that!  I won't tolerate deliberate biting from the pup once I feel I given  her enough training to understand.  Here is what I do if a pup continues to go for skin instead of getting on the toy.
I will grab his muzzle over the top and close his mouth and squeeze and hold with a firm NO!   Keep holding and squeezing until he submits a little.  Think of the mother dog disciplining her pups.  She will place her mouth over the top of the pups muzzle and hold down. (If your hands are getting hurt in this process wear leather gloves.)   If the pup is soft it won't take much.  If you are dealing with a tougher pup you just have to bear down a little harder.  I would rather make my point clear the first time.  When I do this kind of discipline I keep very calm about it - no anger - just very matter of fact.  I don't mess around.

A few more ideas if you are in a family situation.  Don't allow family members to play with the pup with anything but a toy - no hand games or rough housing.  Keep directing the bite to the toy.  You must supervise all interaction with children.  If the pup gets too rough put him away in his crate or pen.  Puppies are just little wild animals at this young age.  Yesterday, Sunny got so wound up  when we were playing outside that she started jumping and biting at my legs and knees etc.......It was not play - it was attack mode.  She kicked into a high prey drive mode - she is a herding dog after all and bred to work!   I just grabbed her by the collar, told her we would have none of that  and put her away.  She is a 9 week old puppy and I knew she just lost control - no big deal, she will learn.  She isn't always like that - she just got herself wound up LOL!!!  I LOVE that in her.   I asked  for the brat of the litter :-)  I will nurture that drive and shape  it into the drive to work with  me.   BUT in the meantime I will not allow her to act like that.  Puppies at this age are just little animals.  They have not learned their social graces so we have to teach them.  The higher drive the dog,  the more like a wild beast they are :-)  They will learn to have self control over time.  It is our job to keep it in balance.

I was also asked about leg biting. You know, that cute thing they do when they grab your pants leg or ankles and hang on.  My pants, socks and shoes are not a tug toy!  I never allow this from the time I get the puppy.  This can become a really bad habit that is hard to break, and when they get big it is not cute at all.  First thing the puppy has to learn is to not walk in front of me.  I don't stop when the puppy gets in front of me.  I keep walking, being careful not to step on them by dragging my feet - toes down and gently lifting the pup out of my path.  I keep moving forward and don't stop or turn.  In a few days the puppy will stop getting in front of me.  All dogs do this - not just herding dogs.  It is their instinct to get in front of stock and turn them.  They just need to learn that humans don't turn for them like stock will.

Now if the puppy is already biting your legs you have to put a stop to it now.  Nip this in the bud!  Believe me it will only get worse.  Get a cane, broom stick or pvc pipe and walk along with your puppy.  When the pup comes in to bite your legs bump them away with the stick.  Don't say anything  - just keep bumping them away.  You are going to make the right thing easy and the wrong thing difficult.  A soft dog will get it right away.  A tougher one will need to have a more convincing bump!  I would rather do it once and mean it rather than "nag" them and have them coming back at my legs with a vengence.  You have to be tough here.  It is a bad habit that is hard to break when they get bigger!  Nip it in the bud.  
I will never allow a dog to bite me once they are past the puppy stage.  If the dog is trained and they try to bite me they will be very sorry.  I use very positive methods in my training, but I will never allow biting - ever.

It is a fine line  - the whole puppy biting thing.  If I am playing with my pup and they bite my hands I will allow it when I am in the  phase of building the drive to work and play with me.    But I will never allow them to come in at me and bite me if I am walking or running.  You have to know the difference, understand your puppy and act accordingly.     

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Temper Tantrums

 Yes, puppies have temper tantrums!  Sunny pitched her first one this morning when I went to towel her off after the mud puddle play.  She just wasn't ready to get cleaned up and was amped.  Too bad, I had other things to do.  She pitched a little fit growling and trying to bite me.  I chuckled under my breath the whole time.  Little dickens!  I just put my thumb in her collar and held her down on her back while I got off all that mud on her belly.  Oh she was pissed off at me.  Then she had to go in her xpen for a couple hours while I worked.  All was fine when she came out again - no grudges :-)  I love that spunk in a puppy.  We are going to get along famously. I think we are a lot alike - two redheads.

She did make me laugh yesterday with all her antics.  It was cloudy and gray yesterday morning (again) and not the best for photography, but I had the camera out anyway.  She is growing so fast I can't wait for good light.  And glad I did.  The mud puddle antics were so funny.  Check out her gallery for more fun pictures  I had some time in the afternoon and the sun was out and that made for some better action shots.