a compendium of random things

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We bought a kid’s toy lion from a store and I had to cut its plastic eyes out and sew the holes closed. Loki’s face makes me think of that lion because he also has no eyes. Why isn’t he ever panting? Doesn’t he get hot and puffed? There’s something wrong with this dog. 

Notes to self:

  1. Your puppy is very young. When you play with him for 20 minutes and then he gets less interested in playing with you, this isn’t because he hates playing with you, it’s because he’s a puppy. That he played for so long already is impressive. Stop playing when he’s still keen.
  2. You cannot spend all day playing with and training your puppy like Silvia, therefore, your puppy will not be at the same level/have the same focus as Silvia’s, will not be able to ignore Lu playing like Silvia’s, because she spends a lot more time with her dogs than you can. It’s ok, it will come.
  3. Crate your puppy more often. He is tired, he just doesn’t know it.

 

I have never met a puppy who is so ‘on’ all the time. We did a long forest walk today, heaps of running, tree roots, all sorts of stuff, after we’d done some people socialisation at a market… And yet, after an hour’s car ride? He’s good to go! Let’s run around! Let’s destroy stuff!

I remember when Lu was a baby and she had trouble settling down (though nothing like Loki, he quite literally won’t sleep until he’s crated), I watched this video and I thought: wow, I’m glad she’s not that bad.

Loki is basically this puppy.

 

I’d love to do more shaping and training with him for that mental stimulation but his meals are so little that I run out of food too quickly! Maybe for things like recalls in the yard, leaving the cat alone, making good decisions about not chewing rugs, etc, I need to use more toy rewards than food. Which is basically what I’m doing, just sometimes it’s easier to give him a biscuit and be done with it. Anyway, I’m feeling all a bit overwhelmed at the moment. He’s so full on – Penny told me that border collies were easy to live with, and that they didn’t bark and that they didn’t chase things! My border collie does all this! I think Penny lied to me. LIES. Meanwhile I’m getting lots of information about OCD and Hip Displaysia and other scary things and I don’t know how much or how little do to and to feed this or that, and no running, but running is good. I suppose it’s like when someone has a baby- everybody has opinions on what to do/not to do, and it’s often conflicting and confusing.
Still working on a retrieve. Think I might try the old hallway trick and reward with food for bringing it back (since he’ll have no other option). I’ve been getting things brought about halfway back outside but it’s pretty hit and miss so maybe I need something a bit easier first. He did LOTS of recalls today though and they were all fantastic, except that he’s very cute because he’s never sure which set of legs called him, so he goes to the closest legs and looks up: “Was it you?! No… how about you?! No… You!? YAY!!!”

 

Also, I’ve set up my dogwalk at an agility lady’s property around the corner. I’ve dropped it down to 700mm because she’s looking very uncertain on the top plank even when she just walks up there to do Get That Contact game, and I can’t expect her to get her confidence back if she’s always feeling frightened. So hopefully a bit of running on the lower heights will remind her that it’s all ok and we can get back to full height quickly. It’ll be very nice to be able to train more often – I think that’s part of the reason she’s lost her confidence, too – we just aren’t doing it enough.

Weaves are looking very nice – she’s really beginning to find her footwork and tonight I did some entries that I was sure were going to trick her, and she’s really beginning to understand how to get herself in and around the poles for the entrances, even when coming with a bit more speed. They’re closed to about 6cm right now, so I’ll stay here for 3-4 sessions, then close by 1cm at a time… At some point very soon I’ll need to take them to my new field because I’ll need more space to get her entering with ‘real speed’, and entering from tunnels etc. We just don’t have enough room in our yard and while there’s a few ways I can get her entering a bit quicker, it’s nothing like coming in from a tunnel or a couple of jumps. I promise I’ll try and get a video soon. I love her attitude at the moment with them, too. They must be starting to make sense to her brain as well because she’s much more keen.

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Lu also has no eyes. Which is weird, because usually you can rely on her for eyes. Penny, this is the lake we were thinking of camping near for that fun-run/trial the next day. It’s a beautiful little lake.

 

We’re having a puppy party next Sunday, with hopefully a few people coming around to visit and cuddle. Not that he has any issues with people or kids, he thinks they’re all wonderful and will be his best friend. Some children were out of reach today and he screamed that he wanted to go meet them. Looks like I might have some work to do there, too. Might do some good playing and stuff during the puppy party. Yes, people are fun…. Em is more fun! Look at her cool toys.

 

Of 126 photos taken at the lake, this is the closest I got to him having his mouth open. Not that it's important at all, but they look so much happier when they pant, don't they?

Of 126 photos taken at the lake, this is the closest I got to him having his mouth open. Not that it’s important at all, but they look so much happier when they pant, don’t they? Look at Mal, then look at Lu. Who looks happier!?

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teenagehood is not that bad

My crazed and adolescent puppy...

My crazed and adolescent puppy…

I remember as Lumen approached 6 months old becoming terrified of the next stage in her development: adolescence.

I remember madly googling what to expect, and reading, with horror that she would: forget everything she knows, ignore me completely all the time, begin chewing again, have insatiable energy, and forget her toilet training, all while going through a fear period.

Awesome.

But…. it wasn’t as bad as all that.

Keep in mind that Lu is pretty well trained, and I train her every day in some way or another, so I suppose your average go-to-obedience-club-once-a-weekend type dog could go through all those things and more… but here’s what we’ve experienced. I actually began writing this post when she was 9 months old, but then she seemed to go through another phase of insane energy, so I figured I’d hold off.

Fear period:

This definitely happened. Men were scary, bikes were scary, strange-shaped things at the park were scary. We occasionally still have scary moments, like after a heavy rain and the creek had foam swirling around in it- the foam was super scary, and my uncle playing the guitar was very scary… but most things? Not so scary now. Or, if she does bark at it from afar I can tell her to “go check it out” and she will.

This period came and went over about two or three months.

Insatiable energy:

This was a tricky one, though Lumen never got destructive – I suspect she would have if we didn’t go for walks and do training every day, though. However, her energy manifested itself in two annoying ways. Firstly, she’d sleep all day even if we were home and she could have been romping around playing with Mal. Secondly, the evenings were bad times. Mostly, it was just her harassing the cats. And look, Mia asks for it- she’ll walk up to Lumen, grapple onto her leg, roll over and chew on her, and then meow pathetically if Lu pokes her with her nose or accidentally stands on her. But it was also restlessness, particularly when we got into bed- she’d be pacing, annoying the cats, pacing, lying down, getting up, panting, annoying the cats, pacing… as soon as the lights went off, great! She’d settle down, but up to that point? No.

For a while there it did feel like nothing I did would wear her out, but I suspect part of the problem was like if you stay up playing video games for hours- you get tired but you’re so amped up that you can’t possibly sleep, so you do more of something, which amps you up more. This period was on and off for about 4 months.

Forgetting commands/ignoring me:

So I wrote the post above, thinking it was an adolescence thing when I try and get Lu in the car because it’s time to go home- she stands way back and looks at me as if to say: um, you think I’m going home? No way. It’s a little bit less of a ‘fight’ than it was for a while there, but it certainly hasn’t gone away. I don’t see it so much as a problem now and don’t make a big deal of it but it’s certainly one of her quirks.

So in regards to forgetting commands or ignoring me, I haven’t noticed this much. Probably because I pushed through with training and trained every day. The only thing I’ve noticed is that her recalls can be a bit less snappy now, if I’m calling her off playing with other dogs for example, but forgetting commands or ignoring them was never an issue for us during adolescence.

Other websites suggest your adolescent dog may regress in toilet training (nope), mouthing/chewing (nope) and general naughtiness (nope).

I suppose, one of the most important thing is ongoing exercise and training. So, if you have an adolescent dog and you’ve stumbled across my site, walk your dog- for as long as you have time to, take it to a dog park sometimes if that’s its thing, take it swimming, let it sniff the world. Train it. Learn how to clicker-train and teach it some tricks. A dog that loves learning and loves the training ‘game’ is a dog who won’t have any desire to ‘forget’ commands, I don’t think. Why would they? Training is fun!

adolescence & the pup: ‘forgetting’ how to behave…

Don't let that face fool you... she's secretly plotting how she can ignore you and annoy you.

Don’t let that face fool you… she’s secretly plotting how she can ignore you and annoy you.

I’m hyper-aware to how Lumen is changing as she grows, and recently, more than ever before, I’m starting to see the changes as she transitions from baby puppy, to teenager. I just need to keep reminding myself that this is a phase, and, hopefully, she’ll grow out of it in time. And, that one day she’s the gorgeous dog I love, and others, she’s a complete menace. I found it really hard to find information through google on what to expect- there was a lot of vague: “your dog will have more energy,” or, “your dog will begin to ignore you”, but not much on how to work through these issues, or how they would manifest exactly. So, I thought I’d keep track of what was happening with Lumen as she reached this… ‘interesting’… phase in her life.

I’ve been noticing more often lately that Lu is beginning to test me, to push the boundaries, and I’m not sure right now how to deal with her.

A great example is what she did the other morning.

We’d done agility training and played, then went for a walk, she swam in the creek, played with her ball, had a great old time, then, it was time to go home- we’d been out for an hour so it wasn’t like she’d had a fair run… I walk to the car, Mallei is my eternal shadow and hops straight in the back. I look back at the park and there’s Lumen, standing a good 10-20 meters away just watching. It’s like she’s looking to see: is it worth my while going over there, or not?

I got her food out, because I’m still rewarding her for hopping in the car, and I call her. She stares at me. Huh?

Right-o, then. I know better than to stand here calling and trying to bribe her, so I walk over. My expression and my posture suggest I’m very unimpressed. She starts to move toward me- a little slinky, but she’s coming- I cheer up! Good dog! You’re coming! I lead her to the car and she jumps in and gets her food.

She’s doing this a lot- this standing waaaaaay back and watching, seeing if it’s worth her while. So I’m going to do some research on this one.

I’ve also noticed she’s lingering longer and longer at smells, even when I literally walk off on her – I give her a whistle, when I walk off. She’s certainly got that ‘teenage deafness’ that I’ve read so much about.

Thankfully these are the only ways that teenagehood is rearing its ugly head so far – she’s not destroying things willy-nilly around the house or backyard (except plastic pots, I’m not sure where on earth she keeps finding them…!), running away (don’t think she can with our fences) or anything too awful, so I suppose we just need to keep practising recalls with good, yummy food available, and making her realise that coming to the car when it’s time to go is not an option (and you get food if you do it willingly).

fear and the pup.

I am skeptical of you and all you stand for.


Lumen is, through genetics, I suspect, naturally cautious of things.
I made a real point with her as a young pup to expose her to as much as I could- all people, lots of places, lots of things. I took her to an agility trial near the airport, an hour and some away from our house, so that she could experience the trial and the planes.

On Saturday we were in the same area and a plane flew overhead and she cowered, looked up, and started to do her run-away-run-away! dance.

I suspect she’s in the middle of her next fear period, and I also suspect she will continue to be hard work in terms of getting her to be ‘ok’ of big monsters (trams, planes, trucks, trains)… 

That being said, my well-socialised, people-loving dog fights this massive internal battle with herself every time we come across a man while out on a walk. I see her thought-process very clearly:
OOO!! Person!!!

Wait…. scary….?!
But it’s a person! I love people!!!
But he’s tall and large, and has a deep voice…. BE AFRAID NOW!!!
But… but… Be my friend Mr. Person!?!?!
STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER!!!!!


Which manifests itself in bouts of over-the-top tail and body wagging in her traditional wormy-bent-in-half kind of way, while at the same time, staying far enough away that the person can’t touch her and she can’t sniff them. Oh, puppy.

Similarly, the other day there was a stick stuck into a log on the ground.
SCARY!

We went up and investigated, and it was ok.

Safety tape to mark out where some construction had gone on?
SCARY!

Oh, it’s just fluttering in the breeze. 

Music coming through the speakers unexpectedly or sounding weird? (and trust me, I socialised her to music, I’m sure!)
SCARY!!

You get the idea.
I’ve written before about our treat-and-retreat game but then there comes a time like Saturday when a plane will fly overhead.
How the hell does one treat and retreat an aeroplane??

I’ve read so much about how if you feed your dog or ‘help them’ by soothing them when they’re scared that it reinforces that they should be scared… Then I found this website and I loved what she said about helping your dog: It is ok to comfort your dog when it is afraid. You are not telling your dog it’s ok to be afraid. You are holding their hand and helping them jump off the high diving board. Your dog is afraid and doing what it has learned to do to protect itself. You are going to show your dog that it doesn’t need to worry… everything will be better than alright.

Right now, if there’s a scary thing- like, a really scary thing, like a tram, Lumen will want to run far, far away. I need to turn that around- to look to me for reassurance. That when planes fly overhead, it’s ok to be anxious but guess what- food is coming!! Planes=food. Scary things=games, food, praise. 
I don’t think dogs have the capacity to be afraid in order to get more treats. I think if they’re afraid, they need tools to help them work through that fear – if that’s treating and retreating, great, but in situations when that can’t or won’t work (planes), she needs other ways to feel ‘good’ and ‘ok’, and if that’s me shovelling food into her face when a plane flies overhead, that’s what I’m going to do.
Plane=food, not fear=food. 

Now to ride out the rest of this fear period- at least, that’s what I’m hoping it is…!

settle, petal.

Is this how we sleep on the couch? I’ve never done it before..

I’ve been having a bit of difficulty with getting Lumen to settle. We’ve had her 4 months now, and she was a GREAT stay on her- if I do it in a formal way, and has learnt pretty well that if I’m chopping things in the kitchen, that when she lays down behind me, she might get fed (and I know she’s doing it for the treats, because if I don’t cough up she starts to stretch herself out nice and long, tail wagging hopefully, squashes herself into ‘frog’ and generally tries to free-shape without pulling out all the big guns or getting up from her drop). But one thing I hadn’t been able to do was just relax with her, out of her crate, of an afternoon or evening, in the lounge. Crazy. And I don’t want to necessarily ‘teach’ her to settle, cos sometimes I need her to be revved up and savvy, but at the same time, I was really getting sick of having to crate her every time I wanted to, I dunno, write a blog post or watch TV. Otherwise, outside she’d go, where I know they both just wait at the back door to come in.

So yesterday I had the day off (strike!) and didn’t do much more than usual, in fact, I’m not sure she even got a walk in the morning, just that I was able to hang out with her till 9, then popped her in the bathroom, came home, trained and played a fair bit, then chilled out on the couch. And it didn’t take her long, but soon enough she was on the couch chewing a bully-stick and then… falling asleep.
I had to take photos as proof. Usually her crate is set up and open so she’d go put herself in there, but I hadn’t given her the choice…

At first, it was like she wasn’t sure what to do- she laid down and squished her snout against my arm- is this right? Should I sleep here? And grew sick of that as she got too warm and moved her way up and down the length of the couch from then on, finally stretching herself out long and lean on her side on the floor.

And this is how we spent most of the day, until about 4 in the afternoon- alternating between couch sleeps and floor sleeps. 

I’m hoping it’s not just a one-off occurrence!

teeth

Lu is losing teeth, big time.

And I must say, that I’m beginning to appreciate what a stellar puppy she is. 

Right now, she’s chewing very contentedly on a bully-stick on her bed, and so far (touch wood), all remotes, shoes, cords, electronics and so on are intact, sans teeth-marks.

Outside, she’s been busy chewing sticks and, when she can find them, plastic plant pots (most of which have been removed by now). I know, I know, sticks can be dangerous, but honestly, it’s better than chewing the sprinklers, or the plants (could be poisonous) or whatever. 

We’re getting down to the wire with her teeth now- just the molars left to go, and a couple of pre-molars on the top (I think). 

I mean, this 5.5 month old puppy is moving from the dog bed to her mat to chew her bully-stick – she’s not even doing it on the carpet!!! Mal could learn some lessons from her, I tell you. 

scary rubbish

So far so bad.
I must say I’m somewhat of a blog hoarder. I begin a blog and it falls by the wayside. Seems to be a recurring theme. Honestly, I don’t have a huge amount of time to blog in the first place so possibly I should quit while I’m ahead, but I’d like to make a go of it.

I thought maybe some ‘features’ would be a good idea. Like: Tricky Tuesday (whereby I teach and film (fingers crossed) a new trick, or get better at an old one).
Or how about… Photo Friday – gives me an excuse to get more photos of Lu.
And… Well, maybe Monday can just be dedicated to wonderings, problems and rambling. Thursday could be ‘Thoughtful Thursday’ but Edgar’s Mission do that so I’m stealing their idea. And Wednesday could be more of the same for now.

So. Today is Monday.

Tell you what, I’m super excited about hard-rubbish collection time. I’m not sure what everybody else calls it, but it’s when you dump piles of old furniture, bits of wood, broken toys, old TVs and the like on the side of the road and it’ll get picked up by the council, or by your friendly neighbourhood scavengers. Nic loves hard rubbish for the free stuff. I love hard rubbish because suddenly, scary, weird and strange-smelling monsters have manifested themselves all around our streets and it gives me the perfect opportunity to practice ‘Check it Out’/Treat & retreat.

Big scary pile of stuff? Great – we go towards it to where Lumen is comfortable, she gets praised/fed, we move away, we go close again, treat, move away. We repeat this, and usually, it only takes about 5 back-and-forths before she is quite happily sniffing or climbing all over the object in question. Theoretically, I could probably just march up to the object myself and praise her for coming, but I see her big grin as we retreat, turn around, and get ready to start the game again that I know this works for her. I also see her ‘check in’ with me more often when there’s scary things or cars, or something she’s unsure about. Is she wondering if we’re going to play the game? Checking my reaction? Showing me how brave she is? Making sure everything’s ok? I’m not sure, but I get the sense she’s trusting me a lot more lately, and I’m really enjoying watching her become a brave, confident, and well-balanced dog.

We also ran into a cat today, and getting her to ‘leave it’ or look away AT ALL (even when I stood right in her field of vision) was SO not happening. But that’s another post for another day.