a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Working on "Things"

Monday, June 30, 2003

Working on "Things"

It's all them Things that make training so difficult. If only I had couch-potato dogs!

Leash toy: Tika's just not really interested in leashes as toys. Rachel suggested fastening leash to a toy for a while to get her to think of it as a toy. I've fastened one to her Tika Toy (big rubber ball) that's the only thing she plays with fanatically all the time, but I have to work hard to get her to grab the leash part instead of jumping and grabbing at me and the ball part. Then she'll tug-o-war a bit but her heart just isn't in it, I can tell. Then, when I give her back the part with the ball, she seems less enthused about *that*, too.

Maybe if I got a leather leash, she'd like that more? They're kind of expensive for a decent one--on the other hand, it's also kind of expensive entering a weekend trial and wasting all the entry fees because she's grabbing at my feet. ESPECIALLY after a beautiful complete run when she does it at the end, which is where I need to get her to think about going away from me to get the leash.

Leash walking: We didn't do walks for about 5 days, between the trial & seminar and all. Then ever since, I've hardly been able to get down the street without her yank-yank-yanking on the leash. Jeez. What is it going to take? I think we're there, and then we're almost back at the beginning. I get soooo frustrated. It's been almost a year and a half! If anything I was doing was going to make a difference, I think it would have made the difference by now.

Yesterday I went in search of Rem's old prong collar, which pinches when the dog tugs. None of the trainers that I like and respect are recommending this any more, preferring positive training methods rather than pain-based. But, you know, I don't know what else to do. So I'll see whether that makes any difference today.

Remington Memories: As always, it's the unexpected things. After I couldn't find the prong collar, I decided that Now Was The Time To Finish The Garage. You know--that last little bit of stuff that I never figured out where to put or reorganized after moving in (almost 2 years ago). So I spent yesterday afternoon organizing the garage. Found a stack of stuff from my last compost workshop that hadn't been put away. Sorted through it--and there was a bag of liver treats. Remington had been so ill at that last one (just recovering from a bleeding bout) that I had taken him with me and he had lain on the stage next to me for the whole thing, and I took the liver treats to feed him (liver because it's supposed to be good at helping to replace Precious Bodily Fluids & such lost during bleeding).

It was a little punch to the gut, seeing that bag. Not a huge one, but noticeable.

Last night I dreamed that there was a small circus at the shopping center, and they had a big yellow dog doing tricks. I mean BIG, and heavy-set, and a little ragged-looking. Someone told me they were pretty sure it was Remington. The circus guy said he had found him just wandering around the area, looking lost. I was doubtful--the coloring was all perfect, and the general shape, but looked much more like a giant Labrador than like Rem. I tried calling "Remington!" a couple of times and he turned slowly and looked at me in sort of a disinterested way. Then someone suggested seeing whether he'd do Remington's bag of tricks. Sure enough, he did every trick I asked--except there was something lack-a-daisical and not quite right about the motions--I couldn't imagine another dog knowing everything that Remington knew, even down to the exact commands I used--but it just *wasn't the right dog*.

Jakey wakey (Jakey-Meister, Jakey-mon, Jakey-noodle-oo): You know, I hardly ever mention him here. He's mostly a good boy. But he sure is a copycat, and much more of a follower than he'd ever admit to in an interview. At bedtime, when I used to take the dogs out for one last pee, Jake would wait until Rem marked a shrub, then he'd dash over and remark it. After Rem died, he didn't know what to do. He'd sniff around the yard in a discouraged manner and never produce anything. Then he realized that sometimes Tika pees before going in, so now he rushes over and remarks her spot. Still usually won't pee if Tika doesn't, though.

Also has become a shrieking, out-of-control maniac when people come to the door, just like Tika is. I don't actually know what to do about it. I've taken to trying to keep them behind a baby gate when people arrive, but they shriek and shout there, so even though they're not all over the place underfoot, you can't hear yourself talk. Argh.

HOWEVER--at the last CPE trial, Jake got qualifying runs 7 out of 8 times, which is pretty good. (Two weeks ago, that would've been good for high-in-trial at his level; this time, there were 3 dogs with 8 out of 8 at his level! Holy Toledo!) He's fairly fast even at the worst of times, but he definitely gets much faster if I can get him playing some tug of war ahead of time, which he won't always do readily. I have to tease and coax him into it, which is quite tiring on my old bod. He's more likely to win when I get him revved; also more likely to pop contacts.

Tika's jumping problem areas: We can do serpentines good if they're a long way apart. Can't do them worth beans closer together. Need to work hard on those. Couldn't do a decent 270-degree turn at Greg's workshop 90% of the time. I had to step way out into the turn and work her around it, but often when doing those, you want to be able to move across the 2nd jump to get ahead of the dog. So I've been working on those in the yard this week, along with more weave-pole entries.

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