Week One: An Overview

It’s been exactly a week since Arizona joined our family.

Arizona lies on a bed with a cream colour blanket.

She is probably one of the most fearless and entertaining puppies I’ve raised so far.

I think she missed the memo on how baby puppies are supposed to behave because she is definitely not eager to please or a follower, unless of course there’s something in it for her.

Arizona stands with her head between the rails. She's looking down into the living room from the kitchen.

Let’s see, what have we done this week…

On the training front, I’ve started to teach Arizona zen (leave it) and sit, while continuing to proof her recall.

As mentioned earlier, Arizona’s breeder teaches the entire litter recall using a whistle, so Huib and I have been continuing to do this and her response is getting faster and more reliable every day.

Arizona is starting to understand the concept of zen, but I’m not quite at the point where I feel comfortable enough to name it.

As for sit, I am still in the process of capturing it (clicking/treating when she offers it on her own). I taught both Rogue and Canyon to sit by capturing the behaviour and their sits are extremely reliable and well done, so I’d like to do the same with Arizona.

On the hilarious front, Arizona is the youngest daredevil I’ve ever met.

Most puppies won’t even attempt jumping off something high or walking down stairs until they are closer to 16 weeks, but as of the very first day Arizona came home, she’s been running up and down the stairs and launching herself off the couch and bed – which is always a heart-stopper for me!!

Arizona lies on the bed with her head up.

Also, Arizona is a talker. She barks and growls at everything!! She has arguments with the grass and bushes in the yard. She wrestles with the toilet brush and it’s holder. And, she has full out battles with the springy door stops in the house. I really need to try and get some of these on video to show everyone because it’s SO funny!!

The other dogs are slowly warming up to her, but I hope they learn to teach her the rules and boundaries quickly.

Cessna pretty much ignores her completely.

Canyon plays with her a bit. Her favourite game with him right now is to chase him while he plays fetch and then grab his chest hair or ear and tug while making growly noises. Canyon doesn’t seem to be bothered by this game, but does not like it when she tries to take his toy away or cuddle up with him.

Arizona investigates the container that holds all of the extra dog toys while Canyon supervises. Arizona is in a big black storage container that is about half full of dog toys that aren't always out.

Rogue makes me VERY proud. She’s my shy and timid girl, but she’s actually begun to initiate play with Arizona. They bounce around the living room, grabbing one another’s necks and bark and growl at one another. this probably sounds bad, but it’s really not, they are both just really loud players. the only thing I wish Rogue would tell Arizona off for is her constant need to try and nurse from her. Rogue just stands there while Arizona pokes her and begins trying to suck on a nipple…hopefully this stops sooner than later because I feel horrible for the Rogie Monster.

The cats aren’t too sure of the bouncy, barking fur ball. They try and avoid her because if she notices them then she immediately runs over and tries to get them to play.

A few days ago Huib saw Arizona bowing and wagging her tail excitedly while barking at Logan, trying to get her to play, but not understanding that she had absolutely no interest in associating with her. After a while, Arizona gave up and walked away. But, last night, Logan wasn’t so lucky, instead of walking away, Arizona decided to pounce on her and then chase her under the bed, trying really hard to get Logan to play.

On the not so wonderful front, Arizona hates the crate, unless we aren’t in the room then she settles quickly enough and naps until you’re ready to bring her back out. The first night, Arizona screamed for close to an hour, but then settled for a few before waking up to pee and then screamed some more when I put her back in. The second night wasn’t so bad, maybe Arizona was exhausted or something, because she didn’t fuss as long and slept a bit longer than the night before. The next night was worse though, maybe she was gathering up the energy to really give us a taste of how bad she can be…

On Thursday, I talked to my friend and she suggested putting Arizona’s crate up on top of Canyon’s, so she could see us better. We did this and she slept really well. Maybe it also had something to do with the fact that we had taken her to watch Kira’s soccer game and then our friend Karen came to visit with her 7 month old Belgian Shepherd, Spark. Who knows, but we got some of the sleep we desperately needed.

But, then Friday was horrible and so was Saturday, so for now I’ve sort of given up on the crate at night. I’ve just been sleeping down in the living room with Arizona attached to me by a leash. She seems to sleep well and doesn’t really wake me up as often. I think we’ll probably try doing some crate work tonight, but who knows.

It’s been a week of learning, laughing and frustration.

hopefully this coming week will see improvements to her sleeping patterns. If we can get that on track, then the rest should be a little easier to deal with since we won’t be so exhausted.

Jean Donaldson

After reading Ian Dunbar’s book, I decided to read The Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson.

In her book, Donaldson writes about the psychology surrounding common dog behaviours and informs readers about how things we do must look from the dog’s point of view.

I both liked and disliked this book. On one side, I think Donaldson did a really good job at explaining the positive reinforcement model of dog training and not only told readers how to do things, but why it needed to be done. On the other hand, I really disliked the way she wrote as if every dog owner who isn’t a professional is stupid. I found her writing style to be a little cold.

After reading this book, I really began to understand where a former dog trainer I worked with got her training style and opinions regarding dog owners and how dogs should be treated and trained.

It’s kind of hard to explain my thoughts regarding Donaldson’s training style, it’s almost as though to her, a dog should not just be allowed to be a dog, or part of the family. I felt as though she believes that if training is not happening then the dog should be crated or something like that. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I explained things wrong, but it’s sort of what I got out of the book and what I witnessed working with the trainer whom I feel mirrors her work according to the word of Jean Donaldson.

Mantracker Rogue?

Maybe not quite…

Yesterday Huib and I took Rogue to a tracking session put on by Search & Rescue Dogs Ontario.

As part of their fundraising, SAR Dogs Ontario offers tracking training once a month to the public. The sessions are held at Bronte Creek Provincial Park and cost $50 for about two and a half hours of instruction.

Saturday was our first opportunity to attend, so we got our stuff ready and set out for Oakville.

There were probably more than 15 dogs in attendance, not including the ones that belonged to the instructors.

at 8:30am, we were split into three groups, according to our level of experience. Since it was our first lesson, we were in level one. there were about 6 dogs, including Rogue. there was a Beagle, a Bloodhound, 2 Shepherds and a Border Collie in our group – the Bloodhound had attended two other times, so her and her owner were quickly moved on to the next level. It is almost as though Bloodhounds are born knowing how to track, lol!

Our instructor, Dave Walker, asked us to all put our dogs into our vehicles and follow him to a field. We were then instructed on how to lay a short track.

First we were directed to shuffle our feet around in a horizontal line, smooching down the grass and leaving our scent. We were then instructed to put a flag to the left and lay several treats in the grass to mark the spot. After that, we walked about 50 feet, shuffling our feet and laying a few treats every couple feet to mark the track. At the end, we covered a toy and some treats with grass and stuck another flag in the ground.

Once we had all retrieved our dogs, we took turns having them follow the track we had laid.

When it was Rogue’s turn, Dave instructed us to keep her leash attached to her collar and then put the leash under her right leg, which would force her head downward, and then I was to hold the leash and follow her pull as Huib wiggled his fingers in front of her nose and encouraged her to follow the track we had laid for her. She did really well with her first and final track, but she was revved up and extremely excited during the second and third runs, so she was a little less precise.

Each time the dogs finished following a track, we were instructed to create another one for them in a different part of the field.

At the end of the session we all sat in the shade while Dave talked about what we had learned and recommended things to work on to each of the teams.

We weren’t too surprised when he suggested we work on slowing and calming down Rogue, lol!

Huib said he enjoyed the lesson and said he’d be willing to practice with me a few times a week and attend the July session.

Ian Dunbar

In preparation for our new addition, I have downloaded some dog training books in an effort to learn more about positive reinforcement training and also to learn about other training methods.

I totally recommend Sue Ailsby and plan to continue using her levels program to train the dogs, but it never hurts to add some extra tools to the dog training toolbox, right?

I just finished reading Ian Dunbar’s How To Teach A new Dog Old Tricks. I’ve wanted to read this book for years, but for one reason or another, I never had an opportunity until now.

It was really well written. I love the way he writes it as if from the dog’s perspective. There were some things Dunbar recommended, like repeating cues until the puppy obeys, that I don’t really agree with, but then there were other things he suggested, like making sure your cues make sense, that I found quite useful.

Dunbar suggests that when a puppy has an accident and the owner witnesses the discretion, that instead of saying “Puppy…NO…you shouldn’t have done that, let’s go outside”, that you skip the no and the conversation, and just say “Outside” in a firm voice, as you pick the puppy out and carry it outdoors.

I think this recommendation makes a lot of sense. I think that we have a tendency to treat our dogs like children, which is not a bad thing most of the time, and forget that their attention span and vocabulary is far less advanced than the capabilities of humans.

Before we pick up our little golden girl, I am going to sit down with Huib and make a mental list of the cues we want to use with her, so hopefully we will avoid some of the awkward stumbling we tend to do in the first year of training.