Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tomorrow is the defining moment...

Wall-e's first indoor trial is tomorrow.

We are armed with DAP and green tea (opted for that instead of the L-theanine).

Why is it always that these defining moments happen on April 1? (Will explain that in the next post.)

No time to write more, but I am eagerly anticipating tomorrow!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reactivity update and L-theanine

I went for a walk this morning and Mika and I were running at the park. Mika always wants to run during our walks -- as in, full-out sprints. Half of our time going for "walks" actually spent sprinting! It's just awesome to run behind her, trying to keep up, watching her in full extension, legs flying.

So today we were running and I saw a man with an off-leash golden up ahead of us. Mika spotted the golden first and increased her speed a notch to zoom towards the dog. I called "Gimme a check!" (our reactivity cue) and, with no hesitation whatsoever, she turned on a dime to race back to me. She got a few handfuls of treats for that GREAT response!


On a different note, I've been reading up on an amino acid called L-theanine that is commonly used for dogs with stress or anxiety. I first heard about in on the shy-k9s Yahoo group that I recently joined. L-theanine can relax an individual (a person, dog, or whatever), while at the same time increasing focus and NOT making the individual sluggish! This is unlike most of the stress supplements that I've heard of, which do calm the dog, but also make them drowsy, which I don't want. I'm going to read up some more on this amino acid and then maybe try some for Wall-e, in addition to the DAP, for our trial on Friday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A stroll by the pond with Wall-e

Doin' the sheltie rub

Hee hee. One of Wall-e's many happy faces.

Showing off his muddy paws

"Zoom!" Chasing a treat up the hill

I wish that leash didn't have to be in the way, but I don't have time to photoshop right now. And Mr. Wall-e can't be off-leash because those darn cars are just too tempting :) The crazy boy would be off and running in a second!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Mika's first walk to the pond in 2011

Mika and I went for a very nice walk to the pond yesterday. It's the first time we went this year because it's too far for Mika to walk to in the winter (Mika often doesn't even want to step out of the house in the winter!), but now that it seems like spring is upon us, I can start taking her for longer walks again.

We surprisingly didn't see any other dogs at the pond. The pond is a great place to work on her reactivity because we almost always see at least a couple of dogs, but today we didn't see any. We did see two dogs on the way home, though -- and both were her highest-level triggers; big black dogs!

The first was a black bouvier. I don't think Mika had ever seen a bouvier before, but I anticipated a big reaction from her because they're a bit similar-looking to Briards, which is Mika's absolute biggest trigger (luckily we rarely see them). When I saw it, I crossed to the other side of the road with Mika and told her to sit-stay. She did, and I fed her cheese as the bouvier passed by. She was SO good!!! She didn't even get tense, but rather stayed relaxed (well, as relaxed as Mika can be when she's getting treats) and focused on me.

The second dog we saw was a black pit bull mix, almost certainly with some lab in it as well; it had the body of a lab and the head of a pittie. I saw this dog at the last minute and had to pick Mika up so that we could move away fast enough. Mika saw it right after I picked her up and she *almost* went over threshold, but she contained herself as she gnawed on a piece of cheese -- what a good girl -- and when I put her down, about 20 feet away from the other dog, she sit-stayed and didn't bark once.

Very proud of my awesome girl!!

P.S. Next time we go to the pond, I'll try to bring my camera and take photos. The pond would make for some beautiful shots.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mika Trial Mar. 19, '11

I am thrilled with how we did today because we accomplished both of my goals!!

My goal for Mika was for her to not react at other dogs in the ring. She not only succeeded with that, but she didn't react at any dogs outside of the ring, either!! Even when they were just a few feet away! As for our run (Starters Snooker), even though we didn't Q, I was really happy with it. At the start line we had to wait 30-60 seconds because the judge had to discuss something, and we spent the time tugging with Mika's leash. I was really impressed with her focus and drive as she tugged; she growled "viciously" and gave a few muffled barks as she tugged just like she does at home. Then we ran the course, and we set a personal record for our shortest course ever :) Red jump, 4-point jump, 5-point A-frame, whistle! Watching the video, I can totally see why she took the AF; my body was definitely pointed towards it. When will I ever learn to handle!?

(The video is a bit far away, but if you squint and/or put it in full-screen, you can see it :)

And Wall-e also exceeded my expectations!! My goal was for him to be relaxed enough to use to warm-up jumps, which he most certainly did (with enthusiasm, I might add), and he even left the warm-up area to play with another dog who was standing next to the jumps. I'm actually pretty pleased that he did that. I know that he isn't "supposed" to, and I'm lucky that the dog was so friendly, but actually wanting to play with another dog means that Wall-e was barely stressed at all; Wall-e won't play with me or other dogs if he's really stressed. (I should mention that this is the first time I can recall Wall-e ever leaving training to see another dog, so it's not a problem or anything :)

By the way, I decided to use the DAP with Wall-e, which I sprayed onto his collar. I was going to use the Gentle Leader too, but I forgot to bring it in, and it turns out he didn't even need it. I don't even know if the DAP did anything, but I'll continue to use it just in case.

Our next trial is a mini-trial (evening trial), in two weeks. I entered Mika in a Starters Snooker and Wall-e in a Starters Jumpers. I was using today's trial to determine whether or not Wall-e was ready to run at this venue, and he showed me that he was. I'll probably just do a few jumps with him and then leave the ring, but I will run him!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

March trial planning

Our first trial of the year, after a very long winter break, is this weekend. Only Mika will be running because Wall-e still has big fears at this venue's trials (which are indoors).

Mika will just be running in one Starters Snooker run. My goal for her is to not react at other dogs while in the ring, but of course I'd love to see her run with the speed and enthusiasm that she's been having in training.

Even though Wall-e isn't running, I have a goal for him as well; to be relaxed enough to play on the warm-up jumps (in between classes, so we don't hog the jumps for competitors). I'll be trying DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) with Wall-e for the first time, and I'm considering using a Gentle Leader and/or a body wrap as well to help relieve his stress.

And, of course, I have a goal for myself; to read my dogs and not push them past what they're able to handle.