Sunday, April 30, 2006

Happy 6 month Birthday Lola!

At 2 weeks old...

8 weeks...

4 months

Just shy of 6 months...

As a b-day present, I met up w/ Debby & her dogs at Riverview. Another PghDogs member, Amy & her AussieX, Diamond joined us too. About 10 minutes into the hike, we spied a white Pitbull on the hill above us. Debby, being way braver than I, coaxed the dog onto the trail and encouraged him to hike w/ us while we looked for his owner. He had a current city license on so it was more likely that he got loose rather than being dumped.

I'll admit to being gunshy w/ loose dogs when I have mine w/ me. Sherman & Penny were attacked twice the same pitbull in our neighborhood. Fortunately the owners were right there to get the dog back, but it's very unnerving. This little guy was very sweet, though and traveled w/ us for over an hour.

We never did find his owner & Debby decided to take him home to see if they could be located. Here's where the story gets good. Turns out his owner lived 1/2 a block from Debby! Thump (as he was called) got out of their yard & went all the way to Riverview. He had been missing for 6 days! What a nice happy ending!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

It was back to school for Lola today. She was in rare form as adolescence seems to be slamming into us like a brick wall. Even though she & Penny played (hard) for 2 hours before class, she was not interested in paying any attention to me what-so-ever. There was a lot of discussion of adolescent behaviors in class and how to handle problems and we really didn't work a whole lot. She was not happy about having to settle & I was not happy w/ her behavior. She was squirming and straining at the end of the leash and almost pulled out of her collar a few times. I put a slip collar on her (which she was not happy about) and she eventually relaxed.

When she did work, she did very well. She's heeling well, has a great sit, down has been a bit forgotten so I'll need to get back to work on this, attention is OK (depending on the distractions). Her walks will be limited next week (she's getting spayed) so that should give me some time to tire her out w/some training.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I haven't done a whole lot this week either. The weather has been getting nicer & I've been taking longer walks w/ the dogs. They love it. Sherman is definately showing his age though. He used to fly through an hour w/ energy to spare. He is visably pooped at the end of a long stroll.

Penny & I had a great class on Monday though. Her supervised separation has vastly improved...through no work on my part. But it's comforting.

Lola continues to react to everything she sees. So tonight I decided it was time to do something about it. I took a whole bunch of really good treats & my clicker on our walk. I worked w/ her a lot on attention. I managed to get really good attention to her during people distractions, but we did have a little fit w/ a dog that was walking across the street. And I was thrilled that she didn't react at all to a cat that crossed our path. She got a jackpot for that. We'll continue to work on this. LLW really isn't much of an issue. She's still on the Easy Walk and I have to stop & wait her out every 10 minutes or so, but she catchs on fast. I need to run her through all of her behaviors tomorrow night as we missed class on Saturday (there was a Parvo outbreak at the shelter & I decided to err on the side of caution).

Friday, April 21, 2006 I don't have much to report these last couple of weeks...

Lola starts Advanced Puppy tomorrow totally unprepared. I haven't really worked w/ her for over a month. I'm hoping jumping into a class will jump start me back into working her at home. I'm a terrible puppy Mom.

I did, however, buy them some new toys...This is Lola's favorite:

Almost as big as her.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sherman was in his element today at lunch w/ his Kong...Lola still doesn't know how to work the Kong properly...

So she watches...
And Sherman demonstrates...

But she still waits for him to do all of the dirty work...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The weather has been incredible. We're so lucky to have an amazing early spring...

Lola chasing her ball...

View of the side yard...the big yellow bush is coming out this spring...

Pretty Penny keeping watch...

Lola lounging on her lunch break...


Monday, April 17, 2006

It's been a busy week. I still have class on Wednesday & Shelley's class started on Thursday. My birthday was on Friday (Happy 33rd to me!), dinner at Kevin's on Saturday & Sunday was Easter.

I took today off for a extended birthday weekend. Lola went to daycare, but beforehand we stopped by my office to drop off some doughnuts and she got to meet everyone. I was very proud of her...she didn't jump on anyone and turned on the charm. She did take off to explore, but was quickly caught. She started Woofing at people so we left.

My Mom came over & we took S&P to the park for a hike. It turned out to be a really nice day. We hiked for about an hour & then took them home. I picked Lola up around 5:00 & she was pooped! Scotty had a hockey game so the 4 of us slugged out & watched TV for the rest of the night. Perfect end to my birthday weekend!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The first class I ever attended was with Sherman a little over 3 years ago. Clearly he didn't need class...he already new how to sit, lay down, give paw, speak and walk nicely on a flexi leash. But we had just gotten Penny & she was a mess. So I thought I'd start out with my already obedient dog just to get myself into the groove.

Well...was I in for a rude awakening. By the end of the first class, I was ready to give Sherman away. He was a nightmare...trying to jump on the other dogs, completely ignoring me, forgetting he ever knew how to do a single thing I asked. I didn't even want to go back to the second class and for good reason...he was worse! As being cool, calm & collected are not my best traits, I was fortunate enough to have one of the trainers notice my frustration & pull me aside into a separate room. She took Sherman from me and worked w/ him a bit and then gave me the best training advice I've gotten to date.


Sherman, NO! Sherman, STOP IT! Sherman, COME HERE! Sherman SIT! Sherman NO! Sherman NO! Sherman NOOOOoooooo!!! I sounded like a broken record. And he could care less...he wasn't hearing me.

Stop yelling at your dog. If what you're doing is not working, change the situation to make him succeed. Stop telling him what is wrong and let him know what is right. Rocket science, huh? Well, to me it was. Because it WORKED! (Thank you, Jan McCune).

So what's my point? Well, for the first couple of months we had Lola, I did a lot of yelling at Sherman. Back to my old stupid ways. But in the recent month or so, I remembered that stellar advice and got back to what I know works. Stop yelling at your dog. I've been focusing more on what he's doing well and putting in more one on one time w/ him and I've really noticed a difference. Does that mean I don't ever yell at him? Hell, NO! But it's fewer & far between...when he really needs it.

Ironically, like tonight. His guarding is still an issue and all three dogs were on the bed w/ me. He had a chewie next to him...but Lola started sniffing him...not going for the bone, but just sniffing near him. Sherman laid into her, pinning her down and biting her face. She really yelped...probably more out of fear than pain, but his behavior is not acceptable. I made him get off the bed and ignored him for the next hour. We made up later and he's on probation for. But I will still keep encouraging the good behavior from him and I will make the effort to stop yelling at my dog.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The weather is finally breaking & I couldn't be happier. Sherman & I took a nice stroll through the neighborhood & he was, once again, the perfect dog. Then Lola & I went around the block & I think she might be going through a bit of a fear period. Things she used to be fine with elicit her big girl bark or she gets real close to me. First it was a gaint blow up Easter bunny (can't say I blame her for barking at that though...I hate those things) it was 2 kids popping wheelies on their bikes. Birds are another big thing...far away, she's tough. If they're too close, she gets a little freaky. I just tell her "Oh stop it...let's go". By the end of the walk she was much more relaxed. She's also starting to pull...and I'm nippnig that in the bud. I learned my lesson w/ Penny not to even let that start.

As Penny was going to class, she didn't get a walk. We did leave about 15 minutes early to practice LLW in the parking lot before class. She was a little stressed when we went in the building. 2 staffers wanted to pet her & she was pretty skiddish. Once we got in class, she was better & started to focus. Heeling was fine, attention was fantastic as usual, recalls...bleh! We worked on separation differently in that I left her w/ Jim, told her to wait, walked away & then returned to her (p/t), put her in a sit stay, and then called her to me. First time I left her she was very tense and hesitated on the recall. Second time, she was more relaxed, but when I called her, she kept her butt planted on the ground. What?? Her recall is usually great. Something more to work on. We also worked on Finishes, which we haven't done diddly of in 6 months. That's on the agenda for this week.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Not much to report for today. The weather was signaling Spring is around the corner & Lola was feeling mighty spry.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

What a truly marvelous day. The weather is starting to change & while it's still cool, it's sunny & beautiful. We had some major thunderstorms last night & the grass seemed to grow 3 inches overnight.

I took Lola to daycare @ 8:00 am. When I arrived, the staff was very excited to see her. And she loves this place. There was a man in the lobby watching the dogs on the TV and she ran right up to him & put on quite the wiggly show. There was an older couple in one of the gated areas next to the desk. Lola could see their Sheltie & started barking & doing her tough girl routine. The older couple was glaring at me, but I was unconcerned. I pulled her over to the other gated section and the manager came out to take the dogs back. She went to the Sheltie first and the man said something to the manager I couldn't hear. She looked at him and said "No, she's a Boxer". My DoG! He said, "OK", shot me another look & I wanted to punch him. She's not a Pitbull!!!! Ugh. Not that there's anything wrong with that...I love Pitbulls. But the general public is so very uneducated. Makes me crazy. Lola went for her fun day at Camp.

When I got home, I took Sherman for a walk & it was if he was trying to tell me "Hey Mom...I'm the good one". He was such an angel. I walked him on the Flexi and made him stop & sit at every intersection. He usually just has to stop & wait till I tell him "Let's Go". But I decided to have him sit this time & after the 3rd intersection...he was stopping & sitting w/o being asked. At one point, a FC retreiver just walked over to us & sniffed Sherman's butt. He just turned around, looked at her and then back at me. This was a first!! Overall, it was a wonderful walk.

Penny was next. She has developed a very, very bad pulling habit. Even w/ the Easy Walk harness, she's making me nuts. I'll admit...I have never worked seriously or consistantly on LLW with her. Heeling yes, but I don't want her to walk right next to me. I want her to have freedom to explore & sniff, but not pull my arm off. I'm going to set up a program for her & really make a serious commitment to stopping this. Stay tuned for updates. Other than the walking thing, we did stop in some parking lots and do some stays, recalls and heeling.

When I returned to Camp...I told the girl at the desk "I'm here to pick up Lola." Her response..."Um no, sorry, we're gonna keep her". I love to hear that. She commented at what a sweet calm Boxer she is and how much they enjoy having her. I would hope that I have something to do w/ that. They brought her out & she was filthy! PigPen from Peanuts is a close analogy. When we got home, I scooped her up & put her in the tub. She was such a doll. She just stood there & let me soap her up and rinse her off. Being tired was probably part of the reason. I dried her off & we sat out on the front porch & let her dry in the sun. She slept for the remainder of the night.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Let's see...what happened today?

Well, first Sherman tried to jump into the UPS truck on our walk at lunch. He has never left the sidewalk while on the Flexi unless I am crossing too. The truck just pulled out from a few houses down and Sherm went into guard dog mode...barking and lunging and running to get into the truck. I immediately called him back & put him into a Down. The UPS guys laughed and said "Only 1 today??" reply was "Don't you think I have all I can handle??!!"

After work, Scott & I decided to take all 3 dogs for a walk. What a mistake. It was a beautiful day and everyone & their dogs were outside enjoying the nice weather. All three were wound up & pretty obnoxious. That is the last time we'll be doing that for a while.

I had my first class w/ Shelley. The group was very attentive and had a lot of questions. This is going to be a much different class than Annette's. Shelley's class is a clicker class, which I am very comfortable with. I have participated in many of Shelley's classes as a student and assisted Shelley's assistant, Rita when Shelley was away, but I've never been her assistant. We get along very well and it should be fun 7 weeks.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Lola had her first encounter with a cat. The neighborhood grouch, 8 Ball, ran across the street to go home on our way back from our walk. One of my nicer neighbors (shame I don't know her name) was on the porch & wanted introduced the little demon spawn. Lola was more than happy to make her acquaintence & then spotted 8 Ball in the yard. As she was safely on leash & 8 Ball is a trooper (and declawed)...I took her down for an introduction. Lola was nothing but inquisitive and ran right up to sniff him. He, of course, hissed and batted her in the face. She backed away, cried a bit and then went back in for another Hello. Another big hiss & couple bats in the face & Lola now knows she should respect cats.

I really want her to become used to cats as she could then stay w/ my Mom when we went on vacation. It's hard to find a dog savvy cat & an owner that's willing to let me "use" it for socialization.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well, it was back to work for the girls today. Lola is going through a very ~ahem~ "active" stage. And we haven't done a whole lot of anything since graduation. So I took her upstairs and ran through all of the basic stuff she knows, focusing on attention. I never really got around to cueing it so I started introducing "Watch". We'll continue to work on that this week.

Penny was antsy all night. She "knew" it was class day. And she was ready to work. I'm so proud of her. We worked on heeling, direction changes, down, lots of attention & supervised separation. Heeling was great. Her attention is stellar. Down is fine...although she refuses to tip onto one hip. I may try to shape this during the course of the week. The separation is another issue. I suppose I should be happy to have a dog that's so bonded to me. We did two run throughs, leaving her w/ Jim, Annette's assistant. I got about 20 seconds out of her until she started to stress. We're gonna keep at it & hopefully, she'll get better. I'm going to try to work on out of sight stays as well & hope that will give her a job to do while I'm gone, making the whole thing less stressful. I really love this class and love working with Penny.

I realize I don't make any reference to working with Sherman. And it's not that he doesn't get any attention. But Sherman is different than the girls. They really thrive on mental stimulation while Sherman is more content to chew or play with a toy or do some fun basic commands. Which he does get a lot of. He's certainly not neglected.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

This morning was the PghDogsRescue brunch. We try to do a monthly thing but life is hectic & not everyone can always make it. While I'm not technically involved in rescue, I represent the WPHS in the whole scenario. It's nice to get together and hang out in person w/ the people you usually only correspond w/ over email. Afterward I drove out to PSP in Cranberry. It was a nice day for a drive. I picked up a new collar for Lola, some more of those achilles tendons the dogs are so fond of and food for Penny & Lola. As she has all of her "big girl teeth", I've switched her to adult food. They're eating Canidae right now & I decided to try Eagle Pack Holistic Select this round. We'll see how they do.

When I got home, I took Sherman & Lola on a walk together. We ran into the neighbor kids and Lola put on quite the show & Sherman was very good with the kids. I'm always careful to warn them that he does NOT like hugs or rough petting. Our neighborhood kids are pretty well behaved, though.

Penny & I went back to the Library to practice some heeling, recalls & sit stays. We played Follow the Leader for about 5 minutes and then went to stays. There were lots of distractions b/c it was so nice out. What you can't see in this picture was...there were a bunch of kids playing around the library and a dog barking on the other side. Not too shabby.

We did some heeling & automatic sits and finished up with recalls. My girl is back in the groove. Maybe it was the weather...maybe it was the liver brownies. Her recalls are right where they should be, including some very nice straight fronts.

We then took a walk around the landscaped side & took some photos. Penny is so photogenic...she should be in print!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Partly b/c I've been sick...partly b/c I've been lazy; we haven't done a whole lot of anything. I haven't done any training w/ Lola other than the usual everyday stuff. We go back to class in 3 weeks & I need to get my act together so she's not the worst one there!

Lola went to daycare today b/c I was off for a doctor's appt. I called to confirm her reservation and the girl on the phone said "Oh yes...we have Lola booked. We can't wait to see her...everyone just loves her so much!" and then added "I was at Petland the other day & they had a white Boxer there...I wanted to get it so bad b/c Lola's such great dog". ~sigh~ All I managed to say was "Well, you wouldn't wanna get a dog from Petland." I didn't go into the fact that color has nothing to do w/ temperment.