A Little Help With Training

On Monday we headed down to Waterloo for a brief visit. We took all four of the dogs as well as my sister because she wanted to see her friend from school and Phoenix had to go to the vet and have his ear flap drained. Just over a week ago Phoenix’s left ear flap became swollen with blood and it looked as though someone had inserted an egg into it. We had a short phone consult with the vet and were told we could wait until Monday to see her because it wasn’t life threatening and it didn’t seem to be bothering him. After draining the ear, she put it onto his head and bandaged him up so that he won’t be able to shake it and hopefully in a week or so all will be healed. We chose bright orange vet wrap for the bandage and have a roll of purple and teal for when we change it in a day or so. I’ll try and post pictures with this entry at a later date when Huib can hook up our external monitor with the laptop since the monitor is currently cracked and he’s unable to use it.

On Monday evening we went to see a woman named Debby DaCosta in Vanessa for some dog training direction (www.thepoodlefarm.com). I have been trying to follow the training methods I was taught while attending sessions at Dogs In the Park with Cessna, as well as, follow the suggestions on Sue Ailsbey’s clicker training website, but I had run into some road blocks that I couldn’t get around. After talking to a friend who does rally obedience with her former ADS foster puppy (Ace) I contacted Debby. Debby judges rally obedience and has poodles of all sizes who have achieved a wide array of competition titles. We have been in contact over e-mail for the past few weeks and she’s been trying to give me suggestions, but after a 2 hour session with her one-on-one I feel as though I am now ready to work past these road blocks.

Debby uses solely positive training methods and tries to keep her sessions (with her dogs) short and fun. She promotes the use of treats and toys and suggests using your time in the washroom or kitchen for training – taking 10 treats and a dog into the room and focusing on one behavior, like touch, “take it” and “give it”, or teaching tug (for example). She went over how to motivate Canyon to give me what I want and how to work past his more stubborn moments. We had only planned to meet an hour, but 2 hours just flew by and Canyon seemed to be having a blast. It was nice to have Huib and my sister watching so they could hear what Debby told me about not asking for behaviours repetitively but just taking his collar and waiting for him to give it to us, how it was important not to use words like “heel” without taking the time to teach it properly (she said to use his easy walk when we’re not able to take the time to train & just the collar when we’re actually going to take the time) or how it was important to always give him the release word when we were done “work”. At the end she went over how to begin teaching Canyon to heel and how to teach the “front” and “finish” behaviours we’ll need for obedience trials. I have lots to work on now and have already begun our bathroom training sessions 

We’ll be going back to Waterloo for a week on the 26th, but I’m not yet sure if I’ll meet with Debby or continue working on what she’s taught me and meet with her in January. I got an e-mail from her yesterday and was surprised to see her praise of my training abilities and future hopes for Canyon.

I look forward to working with her in the future and think I’ll be able to enter canyon in his first obedience trial real soon – it all depends on the paperwork though…

“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” – Oprah Winfrey

4 Months Away


I have had a pretty busy few months so haven’t had the time to blog. Now that things have slowed some I’m going to try and post more often.

Canyon turned a year old on the 3rd of June and got some new toys to share with everyone. He is 23 inches tall, 22 inches long and just 70lbs. We had him to the vet for his heartworm test and the vet said we could continue feeding him puppy food and add in fats that might entice him to eat more. She says he should be closer to 80lbs by now and will get up to 90lbs by the time he has fully filled out. His coat has grown in nicely and he seems a bit darker than he was before his coat fell out. His obedience is well on it’s way and he has already started being able to play fetch with the girls in the yard. He still isn’t the greatest at heeling, but we got an easy walk harness in June and it seems to help redirect him easier than the newtrix, gentle leader or martin gale. We took him to Toronto for Woofstock with Cessna and he was fantastic! He was quite interested in all the different dogs and smells, but listened pretty well. We were with a bunch of puppies in training, so Canyon fit right in.

Aspen turned 7 on the 18th of June and was given the special task of cleaning out the lasagna pan. We also made some banana cinnamon cookies for her and Canyon to share with the others. She’s been swimming tons and playing fetch in the yard every chance she gets. Her and Canyon are obsessed with the game and will grab a toy as they walk out if you’re not watching.

Cessna and I celebrated our 5th year as a team on May 27th. She has really made a mark on my heart and I get sad thinking about the fact that she will be turning 7 in October. She has matured tons and become such an amazing companion. She spends almost all her day watching out for me and the other dogs. She will defend Aspen against Canyon when he’s being a bully and not allowing her to bring the toy to Huib or I, she will run to me and make sure I am okay when walking down the steps in front of our house and just always seems to be watching over everyone. I’m really not sure I’ll ever be able to find a dog good enough to fill her shoes. It’s been a long road, but we’ve gotten here and I hope she’ll work another couple years for me.

Phoenix is still the same old, happy go lucky, boy we’ve loved forever. He can’t hear or run, but he still makes sure to keep the younger ones in line. We started him on a new anti-inflammatory supplement a month ago and it really seems to be making a difference in his ability to get around. He doesn’t seem as stiff after lying in one spot for too long and he doesn’t seem to hesitate at the top of the stairs before going down to the grass. He’ll be 14 in October and I think he is doing amazing!

As you can see, lots has changed and been happening for us all. Canyon is becoming a man, Cessna is becoming a wise middle aged woman, Aspen is finally able to play, and Phoenix is moving smoothly through his golden years. I look forward to getting back into the whole blogging thing and sharing our lives with you all.

Training At Square One

Today we had a puppy training session at Square One. I have only ever been to this particular mall once or twice before, so was amazed by it’s size and variety of stores. We arrived about an hour into the session as we went to visit Phoenix’s foster mom before – she had a stroke in early January and is currently living in long-term care. After walking around a bit we found the rest of the group and the trainer asked if we wanted to go and get Aiden – of course we did! As usual Aiden was excited to see us and we made sure to cherish the short time we had. I am not sure how many more of these times we will have, so gotta make the best of the ones we do.

Both Reece and Aiden were well-behaved in the mall. They weren’t overly excited around the other puppies at the session, but they were quite interested in all of the smells when we decided to take them to PJ Pets for some treat shopping. I am not a huge fan of stores who sell animals in their stores, but I know that this practice will not stop until people stop buying them. Aiden, Reece and Cessna were quite interested in the puppies that were behind the glass, but when the puppies began to make tons of noise we made sure to leave the aisle in a hurry. After the pet store we went back to the group and did some down stays and proper greeting with the boys – as usual they were fantastic! I think Reece is going to be a wonderful little guy to raise, as was his predecessor. I am not sure if it is the puppies themselves who are born amazing or if the older ones in our house teach them great manners, but one thing I do know is that I am spoiled!

Reece had his second set of vaccinations yesterday and was given a pretty much clear bill of health. He has a minor ear infection, but otherwise he is doing well. He weighed in at 24lbs and we were told he is going to be another big one. He was so tolerant of the vet and her assistants checking him over and didn’t even care about the vaccinations themselves or with the thermometer being shoved up his bum – he was more interested in the treats! After the check up was all over and we headed over to the desk to pick up the ear ointment, Reece decided to settle back onto the scale for a quick nap – crazy boy! He will go for his final set of vaccines on the 14th of April along with Aiden who will be getting his yearly’s – oh what fun!

Spring Is Here!

This week has been pretty uneventful. Cessna and Aiden (16 weeks) went to the vet to get their vaccinations. Cessna got a clean bill of health and happily only had to get one needle and then some blood drawn for her heartworm test…what a brave little girl! Aiden got his final set of puppy vaccinations and also got a clean bill of health, he now weighs 35lbs! After a week of not feeling so hot, his belly is now back to normal, it’s amazing what a few days of just rice and Pepto will do. After going to the vet we headed off to visit a friend who also has a dog guide. Boise is a 4 year old black lab from GDB, a VERY big boy! Cessna and Aiden wasn’t sure what to think of Boise, he had surgery on his eye about two weeks ago and is still needing to wear his cone to protect him from scratching at it. Just imagine what it would be like to see a great dane wearing a cone on it’s head…that’s how big he is and how strange it looked. After a nice visit with my friend and Boise we headed off to dinner with another friend at Frankie Tomatoes…yummy all you can eat Italian! Cessna and Aiden did very well, just lying under the table and watching the other patrons walk by with their plates full of food.

The rest of our week has been spent working on plans for our local Purina Walk for Dog Guides and spending lots of time outside. Aiden was born in December so has never experienced the heat of an Ontario summer, did he ever get a quick lesson. We took everyone to the local school yard to play fetch each day this week so they are really beginning to enjoy the nicer weather. Aspen and Aiden are finding it a bit hard to get used to right now, but I think soon enough Aiden will adjust like Phoenix has who is also a yellow lab. Aspen on the other hand hates the summer months, being a golden she likes it as cold as possible. When Cessna and Phoenix are lifting their paws in the winter, Aspen is laying in the snow eating ice and loving it. Cessna finds it tough when it is really sunny out because her black coat just seems to draw in the heat, but she still loves her free runs no matter what the temperature.