rabbits 2

Something exciting happened this morning.

I let Lu out the door and hadn’t noticed a rabbit sitting across the driveway, probably 20 meters away. Usually I either have her on lead going out, or I’ve checked for rabbits, but this morning I forgot. Lu got out the door and I turned my back to lock it, looked down at her and saw her frozen, staring across the lawn… at the rabbit. I immediately told her how wonderful and brilliant she was (usually at which point she would sprint to go chase it) but she actually looked at me and was really happy. I opened the door as quick as I could and we both went inside where I got some amazingly tasty food for her and gave her heaps – she was very pleased!

I took it with me as I opened the door again and she paused in the threshold – didn’t rush through, didn’t run out to go find it, she waited for my ok. I quietly said “Ok, let’s go”, at which point I expected her to take off (the rabbit had actually hopped to the other side of the fence by now and was hopping around over there) but she crept out and froze on the deck. I told her how wonderful she was again and gave her more of the deliciousness, and said “come on,” and went to the car. At this point she was thinking really hard about going to the rabbit as there was a choice between continuing out from the garage to the rabbit or coming in to the car… and she chose the car. Lots more food and praise and I quietly closed her in.

I was just so amazed. In the past there wouldn’t have even been a thought process. It would have been RABBIT= RUN!!! So the fact that she not only stopped to think but made the right choices and was happy about it and wasn’t stressing out about the rabbit and her not chasing it was amazing. I did have the thought when it was still sitting there to actually ask for some behaviours and then allow her to go chase it, knowing it was a pretty controlled situation, but it had already hopped off by then. And I’m still not convinced I want this to be an option. I think “no hunting, EVER”, is a less ambiguous message than “Hunting is ok, sometimes, only when I say so”.

not great

Today something bad happened, and I’ve been trying to decide if I wanted to post about it but I think I will because I think I need to write things down sometimes. Below the cut is a story about how Lumen and Mal /chasedhunted a kangaroo today. You don’t have to read it. You don’t have to offer advice. You can if you want to.

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So, y’know…

I started watching Garrett’s free videos this morning while eating breakfast. And I got through the first one and didn’t get very far into the 2nd one when I had to actually go to work. But it’s going to be about ‘It’s yer choice”  and that whole gamut.

And then I went to the Pony Club to run the dogs this morning and as I drove along I thought: Ok, I’ll put Lu’s bells on her because the other day there was kangaroo poo around there so there must be roos hanging out, and I’ll just keep an eye open, but we didn’t see any with Loki… As I pulled up to park, there were 3 just sitting there right near the entrance. Great. So we went down to a different, less animal-y dog park instead (and I haven’t been going to my normal park because if anyone arrives she barks at them and runs at them barking and although she’s completely friendly and harmless, she’s doing her guard bark and frankly, it’s embarrassing and worrying) where there were less animals but more dogs.

Walking in, there was a goldie and a German Shepherd playing near the river there. Great! Mal was attacked by a shepherd as a younger dog and now he hates them (understandably! I think he’s absolutely terrified of being eaten again). And goldies are too friendly for him, so being bounded up to by an over-exuberant golden-retriever with a shepherd hot on its heels wouldn’t have been ideal. So we steered clear.

Everything was fine and then Lu saw those damn moorhen birds that I’ve been training Loki not to chase and of course she takes off, chases it, does a big circle and comes back to me. Loki followed her the whole way, so that’s awesome (read sarcasm).

And as I got back in the car, I thought about Garrett and recallers and how her whole premise is that the dog is choosing to do what you want it to do and therefore thinks its a great idea and I thought how the hell am I ever going to get Lu to not chase, or to come back when I call her? Honestly, what is going to be better for her, in her mind, than chasing things? Oh, here, have a kibble and let’s play a game and maybe you’d like this tug toy? No, really. Like, oh, let’s like, do some spins and stuff and then you’ll be really excited to stay with me!



And so I know, I need to finish watching the video but I don’t see how Lumen choosing to not eat some food is going to make her choose to not chase those amazingly awesome kangaroos she can smell. How is anything going to beat that? I can see that like maybe you can do it so if she looks back at you then she’s made the choice to ‘check in’ so she gets to go chase something, but she’s not a moron, as soon as she’s not on lead, there’s no way she’s going to wait around for my ok.

And I understand that maybe it’s going to be about the dog wanting to work to get things it wants but then comes in the question of what if your dog doesn’t want anything except the thing he’s really not allowed to have?

Anyway. I don’t know if she has limited spaces for the course when it opens up, or if the rest of the videos will shed some more light on it, but I’d really like to have relaxing walks with my dogs- all of them- wherever we want to go, even if it’s at dusk or whatever. I’m ok with having her on lead, but it’d be really nice if she didn’t have to be, all the time.

I know people have had success with their course even with their super hunty dogs so there must be some sense to it, I’m just feeling a bit down about Lu again at the moment. I think I described her in another post as insufferable. And that’s about right – she’s just making it very difficult to go anywhere, between the hunting and the barking at people right now.

things and other things

I’ll do this one in dot point format

  • Tonight I took Lu & Loki out for a walk. I noticed that Loki doesn’t have that natural ‘turn back’ point that dogs seem to get – y’know, how they know their distance threshold and wait for you to catch up? He seems to just go and go at the moment. I started to worry about how the hell I was going to teach that to him and then I remembered I’d never done the ‘run off and hide’ or ‘turn around and walk the other way’ game. So I did that. Hopefully it will instil a healthy amount of panic in him that he’s been abandoned and he won’t go so damned far ahead of me.
  • I may have figured out a solution to Lu’s dogwalk turns problem. And I’m talking turns from 45-90 degrees, so nothing extreme. I noticed that even at that angle she was leaping – I think she was trying to get off sideways and quicker because I was cuing the turn nice and early for her, but it made her need to exit early… So I remembered how Silvia trains hard turns with a cone, stick, twig and decided to use the same principle. All I had lying around was a jump wing so I put that up against the end of the DW and BAM… no more leaping. So I think I’ll use the small white poles I used for our original RC training when it was flatter, and when she has the hang of that, transition to using a twig. And then fade the twig. Hopefully this will help her understand she has to stay on ALL THE WAY DOWN.
  • I’ve lost 2kg since Nic’s been away. 2kg in 2 weeks isn’t bad for not trying, hey? It’s what they call “malnutrition”. 😉
  • Penny got me a cool birthday present. Posted below.
  • I did cik/cap around a tree today at the highly-distracting-park-of-distractions but instead of boring old cik/cap, I initiated a game of 500-balls, and as she came flying back to get the next ball, I wrapped her around a tree and sling-shotted her out for the next ball, and then did it again, and then she got one just normally thrown straight. Speed into wrap=very very good. Yay!
  • Also, I won this polar-fleece rope toy at the competition the other weekend and tried playing with her with it, and she was all like: bleh, so I was like: ok, hows about I shape you to tug it? and at first I got little piss weak tugs and then more and more energy and now she’s tugging for food with energy and strength. And it’s funny because I remember looking into this ages ago and you read all over the internets how you shouldn’t do it this way, but why not? Polona says for dogs who love food that they learn it’s just another way to get the food. Meanwhile we’re connecting and playing a game and she’s focused and intense, so that’s got to be ok, right?
  • This might sound a bit funny but Lu is actually drooling for food now. I don’t think she’s ever drooled before, but she’s seriously drooly at the moment. It’s cool. I love seeing her WANT something. And yet, in circumstances where she doesn’t want the food (eg. out on a walk) I don’t even bother offering it now… it used to be like, if Loki did a good recall, she’d sort of look over like: oh, do I get some too? And Mal would do the same thing and everyone would get an obligatory biscuit… She doesn’t even look now, and I don’t even bother feeding. No more obligatory biscuits, and I actually think she’s happier like that. Sometimes if I try and give her something like an obligatory biscuit, like if she’s just gotten in the car, she hardly wants it. She’s all: “sigh, if I have to”. Funny dog.
  • We’ve been having fun doing “all in” sessions for Polona’s class. Basically it’s 30 seconds of FULL ON intense work – whether that’s agility or tricks. Usually it’s tricks for us because I just don’t have enough access to equipment (except my 2 jumps and I don’t want to overdo cik/cap figure 8s… Though I did do something else the other morning with a backside of the bar and a blind cross and some other stuff)…. But basically she knows there’s a bowl of food, and she’s figuring out really well that she just needs to work hard and fast for a really short time and then she gets a whole bowl to herself! And maybe there’s little rewards in between but usually it’s just the one big one. We like it. She seems to like it. I’ve never had such enthusiastic leg weaving. I can’t wait for the end of August when I can actually go out into my own agility field and do this exact thing with real equipment around and then go for a walk or something. It’s going to be so cool. Tell you what, this class has been fantastic for us. Yay!
  • I have a weird splinter in my heel and it hurts a hell of a lot if I push on it. Don’t know what I’m going to do about it. Hoping it comes out by itself.
  • Lu and I are adjusting to her constantly being on lead during our daily walks. Since she’s now attached to my waist she’s so much less annoying but I worry that it’s just making her more and more crazy for roos that we hear. They go crashing off into the forest and she jumps around at the end of the lead and then drags me down the track. Am I ever going to be able to let her off the lead? I really don’t know. I think this is just making her more desperate to hunt them. But my stress levels are much lower because she can’t, so I don’t have to worry about how long it’ll be until she comes back… I just don’t know if she’s going to be able to enjoy off-lead walks in the forest ever. Poor Lu.
  • I think a hoard of possums just crashed across the roof and freaked Lu and I out. That, or it was a freak burst of thunder with no clouds around.
Super cool birthday present! Done by team small dog. It's very cool and very accurate. I love how even Lu's weird brown-eye-splodges are there.

Super cool birthday present! Done by team small dog. It’s very cool and very accurate. I love how even Lu’s weird brown-eye-splodges are there.

no rabbits, no mushrooms.

Loki and I went for a walk around the nearby lake and wetlands this morning as I know we’ll always spot a couple of rabbits there, and failing that, there’s heaps of these swamphen birds that are like black balls on legs that run around like rabbits (kind of) so they’re a good substitute.


Exhibit A


We did very well with this- Loki picked up very quickly that if he looked at the birds and then looked back at me, he got treats. Same with the rabbits. What a clever puppy. Bird = treats! Rabbit = treats!

So we got to the off-lead area and there was a magpie on the ground.

Exhibit B


He started getting all stalky and hunty.

Stalk…stalk… WAIT! BIRD = TREATS! Turns and looks back at me, comes in for a treat. Ok! Now, where was I? Stalk… stalk… WAIT!!! BIRDTREATS! Comes back in for treats.

We walk around nearby the bird with him not going to chase it. Good, good puppy.


Meanwhile, in the off-lead area we’re wandering around and come across some white things on the ground. “What’s this?” he says, “Oh! Yummy!” And he takes a bite out of an unknown mushroom/toadstool.

Seriously, dude?


Exhibit C

There is one thing in our household that no animals will touch and that’s mushrooms. Both the Aussies turn up their noses: “Seriously? It’s fungus. Yuck.”
Loki tries to eat the things while we’re out – it’s not the first time he’s tasted them. Whyyyyyy?

So somehow I need to do some ‘leave it’ work while not making him want food any less- I’m figuring he’s clever enough that he’ll learn that not eating ground food = getting even better food.