Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Secret lost a tooth!

Okay, okay -- Secret has lost several teeth by now, but this is the very first one I've found! I just now grabbed it when I saw her playing with something on the floor and went to investigate.

So of course I had to grab it, take a picture and post the news on her blog.

That is all.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Agility & a trip to Petco

The dogs are always tuckered out after a night at the dog center. I happened to catch a cute moment between Secret & Luke this morning (above). She loves him so much, and he's really coming to accept her more these days. Yay!

Secret had another good night of agility practice last night. We more or less did more of the same from last week, just working on sending through tunnels, hoops & jump standards. She's having lots of fun with this and was driving nicely through the tunnels -- so much so that I actually heard her wipe out a couple of times in the one with a tight turn (macaroni-shaped). Guess she needs to figure out her footing in there, yet! :o)

Secret doesn't seem to have a problem with different tunnels in different situations, so that is great! Last night there were three different tunnels -- a yellow tunnel (15'), a silver tunnel (15') and the red/white/blue tunnel (20') all in different degrees of curves and she treated them all the same. I do think that the 20' tunnel took her by surprise the first time through, ("Gee, Ma, this is LONG!"), but she thought it was grand. This is definitely a tunnel-loving dog.

I introduced the concept of the lead out last night and Secret surprised me with how well she waited in a sit. In several areas, I had two jumps or hoops leading to a tunnel, so we practiced our waits/lead-outs in multiple spots. I didn't push my luck and was able to lead out about 15' or so to start with. I think that's pretty good! Even better is that she ran forward with great excitement when I called her, and drove straight into the tunnel.

I brought the tippy board out at the end for a quick practice session. I'm still using the clicker with the board, to build up the positive association with it. Secret moved immediately to touch the board when I put it down and very quickly put all four feet on it. It took a minute or two before she felt confident enough to start going back & forth and turning around on the board, but once she got started she was happy to keep going for a good five minutes or so (while I, naughty me, sat and chatted with the owner of the dog center... -- Rule #1 of training, pay attention to your dog!).

After class, Secret took her first trip to Petco with me. I'm surprised that I haven't done this with her yet, and it's obviously something that is a fairly large & necessary part of her socialization training. She was very overwhelmed when we first walked in the door and kept trying to hide behind me. She got better as I let her explore. My little contortionist almost slid herself underneath the shelving as I was shopping for a new collar for her -- She is very close to outgrowing her puppy collar. :o(

The guy who checked us out is apparently a huge Border Collie fan and fawned all over her. She was not really into the idea of having him pet her, but offered him nearly every trick she knows in an attempt to get the treat from him. All he wanted was a sit, but she kept popping from sit to bow to down to shake to high five, etc. when the reward didn't come fast enough for her liking. He did touch her a couple of times, but she was really in no mood for petting.

I see many trips to Petco/Petsmart in her future....

Monday, January 25, 2010

Secret Discovers Nature

The weather was fairly nice during the latter part of last week, and since my parents were out of town, I decided to take the opportunity to take the dogs walking on their trails when I went up to get the mail and whatnot.

Secret thought this was just grand! So many new sights and smells to discover. She was incredibly well-behaved with regard to sticking nearby and coming back when called. She's always been a good girl from day one about being off leash, something I always took for granted until Kaiser came along! :o) I was really impressed with Secret on Friday. I took Kaiser off leash as a sort of a test to see what he would do -- Well, that little stinker took off running down the trail and Secret just stopped and looked at him as though to say, "Oh, you are naughty, you aren't supposed to go that far!" (He did come back, but after he did it the second time I put him back on leash!)

This is something we should definitely make a point to do more often! At least until it warms up and tick season hits us.... Then walking through the woods isn't quite so much fun (for me, at least!).

We had a pretty lazy weekend at home for the most part. The weather was pretty crummy, with a rain/snow mixture that kept us hiding indoors. We got a chance to go outside early on Saturday, but were stuck inside for pretty much all of Sunday. I learned that Secret is a pansy about going outside in the rain! I nearly had to shove her out the door, and eventually go out and stand in the rain, myself, to get her to go potty.

I started a new trick this weekend that Secret is picking up on very quickly. We are learning, "Bang." She's pretty much got it from the down position, and now I'm working on linking the cue from the sit. She's a twitchy death victim, as she moves her legs around a bit while she's on her back, but it's cute! :o)

We also worked more on getting in the box and putting it on cue. She's figured out how to get all four feet in the box top and has started to offer a sit. It would be cute if I could get her to smoosh herself into a down, but I think that would be easier if we had a bit larger box to work with to start. We'll see.

Secret is getting really good at "back-up" with me in a stationary position. I'm using the cue of putting my hands behind my back and expecting her to keep going backwards so long as I hold that position. We will have to move this trick to the basement, as we have run out of space to keep going back in the bedroom!

Secret is turning into a real cuddle-bug and can be fairly demanding about "lap-time" when she wants attention. She loves to jump up on the couch and fling herself at me, putting her head under my chin. She definitely seems to be more affectionate than the boys, or at least more obvious about expressing it and demanding attention. The picture below is from when she crawled into my lap on Saturday for a nap. Yesterday she slept on me for over two hours. I have to admit, she's got me wrapped around her finger. :o)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Finding her gears!

Secret had an amazing night of agility practice at the dog center last night! Everything really clicked and it has made me so excited about our future!

We started with tippy board work using the clicker again. Secret moved quite quickly to getting on the board with all four paws again, but was fairly stuck on one end of the board. I tried to solve this by throwing her treats onto the high end, hoping that she would walk over and tip it, but she's a smart one and started to hop off and go around to fetch her treat. She was doing very well, overall, with dealing with the movement of the board, so I decided to give her a break and go play with tunnels.

Secret wasn't into tugging tonight, so we went straight to the squeaky balls for sending through jump standards & the tunnels. She was ready to go, which was nice to see since she's usually a bit more "subdued" after a clicker session. It's like her brain is in learning mode and has a hard time switching to play mode. Obviously I need to make learning more like playing!

At any rate, Secret found a whole new gear last night! She was RUNNING and having so much fun! She absolutely lit up the first time I sent her to the tunnel and came barreling out to run after the squeaky.

Even more amazing, though, was the enthusiasm she showed about going through the jump standards! We did a bit of work at home the other night with a hoop & the clicker and I think she now understands the idea behind targeting through the obstacle. I was even able to get several feet away from the jump standard while sending her through it -- the tunnels allowed for even more distance.

She was having so much fun that I was actually able to string together three "jumps" on a curve, then the tunnel and another jump, all while keeping her focused and happy -- and fast! It was so much fun to see her light up and enjoy herself. I have never seen her quite like this.

We went and played with a different jump/tunnel set-up in a different part of the arena to make sure she wasn't just getting comfortable with one spot. She did just as great in the new location -- I even rear crossed the tunnel entrance and it didn't phase Secret in the least. It was something I wanted to try right away since it was a huge issue with Kaiser in the beginning. Not with Secret!

I decided to go back to the tippy board before ending our session for the night. Imagine my amazement when Secret walked straight onto the board and tipped it to the other side! She repeatedly walked back and forth over the board for me and even turned around on the board while it tipped. Her confidence level skyrocketed out of the blue, it seems! It got to the point where I couldn't keep her off the board and had a hard time even being able to pick it up to put it away. :o)

I let the boys out to run around with Secret while I closed up for the night. Much to my surprise, I looked over at one point to see Secret following Kaiser up the a-frame. Eeek! Thankfully she did it in a safe manner, but I still told her she's not old enough for that just yet. lol Of course, then she just wanted to do it again... I think she'll have fun when I put out the a-frame at home this spring at baby-height!

All that excitement wore Secret out, because she actually zonked out straight away when we got home. That doesn't happen very often, but Kaiser was surely appreciative of it. :o)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tippy Board Success!

There was open ring time at the dog center today, so I decided to pack up the kids and take advantage of it. There is still very little we can do outside at this time, and I'll take any opportunity I can get to work with Secret around the agility equipment!

We started with sending through the jump standards. I think this "game" is starting to click with Secret and she's getting more into it. She was really into tugging today (at first, anyhow), so that is the toy I used to reward her for this. Secret lost a bit of focus when I started to put two "jumps" together, so it hasn't completely clicked for her just yet.

What HAS clicked for her, though, is tunnels! Secret has decided that tunnels are WAY COOL. For our tunnel work, I bring out the squeaky balls and throw them as she exits. Apparently this is a ton of fun for her (yay! Toy drive!) and I no longer have to deliver her to the entrance of the tunnel. We're starting to get a little bit of actual distance with the send! :o)

I finally remembered to bring my clicker this time, so after we were done playing with the tunnel, I went and sat next to the tippy board. Wow. Absolutely 100% turn around from the last time we worked with it (without the clicker). Secret UNDERSTANDS shaping, she doesn't really "understand" luring.

She picked up on the mission immediately. Quite often her "touch" resulted in the board moving, but unlike last time, this didn't immediately scare her off. We worked our way from one foot to all four feet on the board in a relatively short amount of time. We were interrupted at one point by someone coming through the side door that TOTALLY freaked Secret out and we had to take a break, but when we went back to it she progressed very quickly.

Once all four feet were on the "stable" end of the tippy board, I started to toss her treat behind her so that she'd have to turn around on the board to get it. This resulted in some movement of the board, which she handled incredibly well compared to last time. I left the tippy board out to work with her again on Monday and I look forward to seeing how quickly her comfort level continues to rise. I'm hoping we can progress to going back and forth over the board, but it may take another session yet. We'll see!

The picture posted above was taken in Secret's very first trip through the car wash! lol Going through an automatic car wash for the first time always seems to be a momentous occasion for dogs and she took it very well. She "chased" the spray a couple of times, then just sat and watched the show for the most part. I was worried that the dryer would freak her out, but it was a non-event. Good girl!

And on a REALLY happy note, Secret's bowels are once again happy and back to normal. :o) She poo'd shortly before I started this entry and I was so happy with the result that I nearly took a picture for the blog. I'm quite sure those of you reading are happy I restrained myself. *wink*

Friday, January 15, 2010

Four Months Old!

Secret is four months old today!

I wish I had more to report, but due to Secret's diarrhea issues, we have not done any training this week. I've been trying to limit her food intake without actually fasting her (for she would surely ingest something awful, then!), which means that any sort of clicker/shaping is out of the question.

The good news is that things are almost back to normal in the poo department. I'm still feeding pumpkin, but she's at least having mostly solid bowel movements again and on a more normal frequency. I was worried about leaving her last night while I went to do karaoke (5+ hours, it ended up being), but she was fine.

If I were to come up with a momentous occasion from our week, it would have to be that Secret finally fetched a frisbee! Yay! We are a long way from being a disc dog, but it is a start. lol

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another vet visit

It's really no wonder I was on my vet's Christmas card list this year. We were back at the vet yesterday for another appointment. This time both Secret & Kaiser were getting their first Lepto vaccinations. Secret was a good girl at the vet's office, if you look past barking at noises she heard behind closed doors and taking a swipe at the vet's assistant when she put Secret down in a manner that Secret found less than pleasant.

Secret has all of her adult teeth in the front now -- and I never found a single baby tooth, darn it! She also has a slight overbite that we're keeping an eye on, but my vet is not concerned at this time. Oh! And Secret now weighs 24.7 lbs!

We're dealing with a bit of diarrhea at the moment. Secret got her second dose of dewormer on Monday, so it's hard to say if that is causing it (I don't recall it having an effect last time) or if it was one of the random things that she gets into on our walks at work (ie: cat poop). I'm feeding her pumpkin and yogurt to try to help get things back to normal, but things have been soft/runny since Monday evening (when she poo'd in the arena at the dog center!).

We haven't done any further training with Secret's tricks since I last posted. We were at the dog center last night where we again played with going through a hoop and a full length straight tunnel. Secret seems to think hoops are fairly boring right now, but she is really enjoying tunnels!

I brought out the tippy board to play with, to try to get Secret more confident with things moving under her feet. This is going to be a challenge for us, I believe, as she was VERY cautious about approaching the board once she found out it moved. I'm going to have to remember to bring the clicker from here on out to see if that will help us at all.

I did get Secret to put all four paws on the tippy board while I held it and then moved it some, but in general, her trust of plank-like objects went way down after that and I couldn't even get her to do the baby dog walk.

I *did* however, succeed in getting her to repeatedly go up and over the sway bridge. This was something that I didn't even know the dog center had, as it's a UKC obstacle and we do not do UKC trials. When I discovered it in the puppy area, I was overcome by a fit of joy! I want to take Kaiser to a UKC trial eventually to get a UKC title on him and get him closer to the UKC "Super Dog" award (obedience will be our nemesis). I've been hesitant to go to a trial because of all the different equipment, so finding a sway bridge at the dog center was a huge bonus.

As with everything else that moves, Secret wanted nothing to do with it at first. She saw the boys going up and over it repeatedly, though, and seemed to take notice of how many treats they were getting (while she, in turn, received none). To my surprise, she eventually decided that she could, in fact, go up the wide plank and onto the bridge! She walked timidly across the first time, but then willingly turned around on the decent plank and did it again! And again! And again! It was so good for her confidence and a great way to end the night after the dismal session on the tippy board.

It was while I was packing to go and letting the dogs run around to blow off steam that Secret had her "blow out" in the arena. Yay.... We got up once in the night for a poo-break and last night we were up twice (at 3:00 a.m. and then at 5:00 a.m., just a half hour before the alarm goes off, ugh). Hopefully this passes soon! She is doing a very good job at letting me know that she has to go outside, at least, and we have not had any accidents indoors, aside from the episode at the dog center.

I'm glad I have a large can of pumpkin -- Because when I looked at the store yesterday, I was shocked to find the shelves completely void of any and all pumpkin products!!! We may have to look for alternative "binders" if this doesn't clear up quickly.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Weekend Update

I'm excited about the advances in training that Secret has made over the last few days! I'm waiting until I have a few more new tricks to share before I put it on video.

On Friday, the mission was to get Secret to stand up on a "pedestal," -- Or in our case, Luke's food dish tipped upside down. Due to her instant desire to touch any new object I present to her, it really didn't take all that long for her to figure out that the game of the night was to stand on the dish with both front feet.

Yesterday I took it to the next level and started asking Secret to pivot around the dish with her hind legs while keeping her two front feet squarely on the top (which really, it's not a huge dish, so I'm pretty impressed!). This is an excellent exercise to help her develop hind end awareness and she was a super star, as always. She had no problem going around the dish in both directions and eagerly hops onto it when I say "step up."

We also worked yesterday on our "back-up" with the dish behind her. I was hoping that perhaps I could get her to step up with her back feet, but she clearly is not ready for such a small target at this stage.

Today we warmed up with pivot work on the dish, then I placed the top of a filing box on the floor next to the wall. The objective was to get her to back up and onto the box top.

It became clear fairly quickly that Secret did not feel comfortable with this yet, so we'll save backing up onto stuff for later, when she's developed more hind end awareness. I think I'm just too over-eager to teach her to do a handstand!

I switched our training session to something I knew she could achieve. We did just a little box work when we first started shaping and Secret had started to catch onto the idea of stepping into the box. I decided to go back to that and see how far I could get. This time I sat on the floor and held the box between my feet to secure it, since last time she kept flipping it over and getting spooked.

From the get-go she started to offer stepping into the box with one foot, then two. From there it was a fairly comical game of her trying to figure out which movements elicited the click. She's grown a fair amount in the month since we last played with the box, so actually fitting her entire body into it did require a bit of coordination.

It took about 10 minutes, perhaps, before she was solidly standing in the box with all four feet. I would jackpot her so long as she kept all four feet inside the box and then stopped treating if one of the feet stepped out. The light bulb really went on for her at that point, so I stopped after a couple of repetitions and didn't push to get a sit or down at this time. We'll play more with the box later!

I brought the dogs into work today to let them blow off steam running around. I figured they deserved it since I left them yesterday at 3:30 p.m., came home for a potty break at 9 p.m. and then didn't get back home until 2:30 a.m. Poor, poor dogs! Although really, I must say that Secret seemed to accept it better than the boys. Boy did they ream me out when I got home! :o)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

One Month "Anniversary!"

Today marks the one month day of when Secret joined my family! :o) Time is flying by and it's been so much fun!

I stopped at the butcher shop last night and picked up some bones for the dogs. I haven't done it for quite some time, so they think it's a huge treat. The picture above is Secret enjoying her first ever knuckle bone! They got the bones at 7 a.m. this morning and are JUST NOW sleeping for the first time today (it's nearly 1:00 p.m.). I expect to have some tired puppies tonight. And probably some runny poo, too...

I did a video last night to commemorate Secret's first month with me, and to document what she's learned at 16 weeks of age. She's so smart! I don't think I'll ever stop saying that...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Agility Night!

Secret was fantastic at the dog center last night. I decided to go ahead and put her in the pop-up playpen with the boys to see how things would go. I heard Secret & Kaiser playing in there a few times, but I never heard Luke get grumpy, so things must have worked out well enough. I know that Secret was definitely happier to get to hang out with the boys instead of getting stuck by herself in a crate.

I worked both of the boys during my second class since two of the three students didn't show, which meant that Secret was the last to come out and play -- and boy was she excited about it! That was so nice to see.

I came well prepared with toys -- I brought the furry tail/tennis ball, the squeaky chicken and the little pink Wubba toy. I also had a full pouch of the "good" treats that she enjoyed so much last time.

I decided to introduce Secret to a full-sized tunnel last night. We started with it all scrunched together so that it was roughly the size of the puppy tunnel that we played with last time. She caught on quickly and in no time the tunnel was fully extended and even had a curve in it! I would send her into the tunnel and then throw one of her toys as she exited, which really helped to build up her speed and drive through the tunnel. She wasn't phenominally fast, but it was a fantastic start. Secret did better at sending from my right side and needed a bit more guidence from the left.

We also played with sending through a single hoop. Curiously, with the hoop, Secret was better at sending from my left vs. the right!

We ended our session by working on waits and running recalls. By this time Secret was losing interest in the toys and was more interested in a food reward. She definitely showed more interest than normal in toys last night, though, which was good to see. She retrieved the chicken several times from a fairly good distance, even!

I brought the video camera with last night but ended up not getting a chance to tape anything. :o( Hopefully next week I can set it up somewhere to get a good shot. Secret will be nearly 4 months old next week, so it will be a good time to document where she's at in her training. It will be fun to look back on in a year or so!

Secret got a new kennel last night, but it likely won't be used for a while. I couldn't pass up the deal, as Laurie was selling a $120 kennel for $50. I didn't realize it at the time, but it's actually the same crate that Luke has -- which technically, is likely far bigger than Secret will need. But oh well, she has it now! :o) I took it out of the box and set it up when we got home. Secret seemed to love it! If I wanted to abandon the play pen, I think that Secret & Kaiser could happily share this crate at trials. Of course, then we fall into the problem of fitting two giant crates into the Vue...

We had more puking excitement last night -- or rather, this morning. In what seems to be becoming classic fashion, it again took three tries for the object of the day to present itself. And when it did, I think it's fair to say I was a bit shocked:

Sigh. I'm quite certain that this is part of the knee-cap that Luke broke off on Sunday. Kaiser and Secret both swooped in to grab the pieces. I saw what Kaiser took and was able to take it from him -- and really, it wasn't all that big. Secret gulped her piece before I got to her, so I had not realized how large it was. OMG, when this came out I was shocked. Obviously we are going to have to be more careful about bones in the house.

Why do dogs gulp stuff like this?? At least it came out safely. I'm starting to wonder if Secret will see her first birthday -- at least without major surgery! Argh.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year!

The new year brought another new experience for Secret -- Her first stay in a hotel room!

We drove up to St. Paul, MN on New Year's Eve, as both of the boys were entered in the MMBC NADAC trial on January 1 & 2. I opted to leave later than usual so that we would have less time to kill in the hotel prior to bed time. As it turns out, I really didn't have anything to worry about, as Secret settled right in and was very well-behaved! I'm quite sure the worst part of the experience for her was spending nearly three hours in the cramped little kennel during the drive up. She will not fit in that crate much longer!

Secret was pretty overwhelmed again when we first arrived at the trial (in a horse arena) on Friday and spent a bit of time hiding in the back of her crate. As usual, however, she warmed up quickly and soon was happy to hang out with me and walk around to visit people.

We had a few times where she was snarky with other dogs (generally the hyped up ones), but there were several dogs that she submitted to and even rolled over and showed her belly. If I were to notice a trend, I'd say she does better with boys right now and isn't that fond of girls.

Back at the hotel Friday night, the boys just wanted to crash -- but Secret was bound and determined to stay up as usual. Thankfully the bully stick I bought her earlier in the day managed to occupy her for some time. She tried to get Kaiser to play with her, but they were unable to do their usual zoomy/wrestle routine in the cramped quarters of the hotel room. Eventually she did settle down on the bed and because it was so early (8:30-ish), I let her stay up there with us as we all fell asleep. Imagine my surprise when I woke up a while later and found her back on her pillow in the x-pen! Guess the bed was a little too crowded for her tastes. ;o)

Secret had another good day at the trial on Saturday. I felt bad about sticking her back into the little crate for the ride home after spending all day in one, so I ended up leaving the door open and letting her ride loose with the boys in the back. I'm quite sure she ended up dominating the big pillow in the back for most of the trip, leaving the boys to scrounge for free space. lol She seemed to travel well, so I will likely get rid of the little crate soon and see how she does. Mostly I just worry about her pestering Luke.

We had a terribly lazy day at home yesterday and did practically nothing. Surprisingly, Secret was very amiable to this and joined the boys in an all-day nap fest. I didn't do a training session, but we played for a while with the new toys that I bought this weekend. One was a HUGE hit -- It looks like a furry squirrel tail attached to a tennis ball. She LOVED it. I am keeping it put up between play time, as I'd like her to view it as an interactive toy with me -- and I don't wish for anyone to destroy it in a matter of minutes! lol I let her play for a while on her own with the squeaky chicken I picked up, but had to take it away when Kaiser got hold of it and started to rip it up. That Kaiser.... The chicken will be another supervised toy, I guess!

My agility class is back in session this evening and I'm looking forward to having a training/play session with Secret at the arena!