Group Training

Arizona in the grass wearing a pink leash paw prints in different shades of pink and brown

This was Arizona’s second group training class for field work.

There was a duck toller named Maverick, a black lab named Hank, a chocolate lab named Butler and two other golden retrievers named Striker and Buck.

Arizona was the youngest dog in the group by at least a couple of years, so she was also the goofiest. The other dogs all seem to have at least their first field title, so they were a lot more serious about following their owner’s direction.

Side view of Arizona lying in the grass wearing a pink bone shaped ID tag on her collar

This was Arizona’s first night seeing real ducks and was not going to pick one up. She had a bit of trouble settling enough to sit and she was overly excited to meet all of the humans when I gave her the cue to retrieve, but Susie didn’t seem worried about her progress, so we’ll just keep working away.

Once Arizona had her turn to attempt retrieving her duck wing attached to a training bumper, we stayed in the background and let her watch the older dogs work. She seemed quite interested and every time someone said “mark,” Arizona immediately stopped whatever she was doing and looked out towards where the duck would fall.

Susie sent two other training bumpers and duck wings home with us to work with. She is thinking that Arizona needs to practice with different equipment and also have a variety of people tossing it for her.

Next week we’ll attend group training again, but then we’ll have to take a couple of weeks off for other engagements.

Back to Track

It’s been a while, but on Saturday we returned to tracking with Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

Brooke squatting down while Rogue lays beside her

We are still working on corners, but Rogue’s enthusiasm got in the way of her search, making her zig-zag more than the instructor would like, so she asked us to do some long straight tracks before trying another corner.

Brooke holds the tracking line while Rogue has her nose down following the track

Over the next month we need to continue working on her corners, starting with a couple of really long straight tracks before attempting an actual corner. The instructor loves her excitement level, but we need to rein it in a bit.

When you watch her track it’s hard to believe she’s actually a guide dog, lol!

Animals in Translation

Anyone who knows anything about autism or dog training has heard of Temple Grandin.

When I started learning about clicker training and positive reinforcement, I heard about her book Animals in Translation and knew I needed to read it.

Fast forward 8 years and I have finally read it.

Grandin writes about how animals and individuals with autism think and behave similarly. She talks a lot about her work with cows and slaughter houses. She describes her achievements in making the process less stressful and more humane for the cows. She explains how squeeze shoots work and talks about making one for herself and how it influences her emotions. When Grandin isn’t talking about cows, she talks about dogs. She helps her readers understand that they need to look at things from the level and point of view of the dog. When a dog balks at something, we need to get down to their level and think like they do. They could be concerned about something as simple as a reflection of sunlight they never noticed before.

This book wasn’t brilliant, but it was an easy read. If I learned anything, it was that I need to remember to think like a dog, get down to their level and see things from their perspective.

Corners and More Corners

Today Rogue had her third tracking lesson with Search and Rescue Dogs, Ontario.

She was a freaking superstar!!

Other then being a bit too enthusiastic, Rogue nailed her lesson on tracking corners.

We have graduated to the next level, so we are now working with a woman named Mary-Anne.

There were only 2 other dogs, a Beagle and a German Shepherd, in our group, so we had a chance to do 5 long tracks.

Mary-Anne had us each go and lay our tracks. She told us to do the same as we had been before, but that once we reached the spot where we wanted to turn, we were to put a flag and then continue past a bit. They continue past the flag in order to make sure the dogs are using their noses to find the track and not following the flags. Once we started our corner, we didn’t go as far as we had, so the track ends up sort of being an L-shape.

rogue wanted to run, so zigzagged a lot her first track. Mary-Anne said that Rogue is a really fast dog. She says it looks like she really knows what she is doing, but that she wants to go faster than we are going and as a result, gets frustrated and pulls. I suggested Huib do the next track or two on his own, just to give Rogue a chance to go as fast as she wanted and see how she does. Mary-Anne thought it was a good idea, so that is what we did.

Rogue did fabulously! In addition to having Huib do the tracks on his own, he also began laying the treats closer together, so it would get her back on task and slow her down a bit. We were using cut up chicken wieners, so we knew she’d slow down for them.

After Huib did two tracks on his own, I rejoined the team and we had two successful, final tracks.

I’m not sure where we will end up going with tracking, but Rogue seems to really enjoy the lessons and excel at it, so we’ll see where she takes us.

Growing Up

It’s hard to believe we have already had our Wild Child for 3 months, but it’s true!

Arizona hanging over the edge of the big jet tub, playing in the bubbles. She has bubbles around her nose and under her chin.

Arizona is maturing and growing quickly, but she’s still just as crazy as ever.

Hmmm….what’s been happening with her since the last time I wrote…

Ari is now 19 inches tall, 18 inches long, has a 22 inch girth and weighs 38.5lbs.

She is also teething, so we really have to watch what she puts in her mouth. She seems to think everything is chewable. So far she has redesigned our front door mat, added some artistic touches to a few baseboards and created handfuls of wood chips, doing her beaver impression on fallen tree branches in the backyard.

On the training front –

We have started field lessons, so our homework right now is to work on having her sit in one spot until we give her a release word, to not just come when we whistle and to walk on our left side.

We are working with Susie Bell of Pinebank Labrador Retrievers. Susie is a Labrador Retriever breeder who teaches both obedience and field work. With our schedule and my visual limitations, we have decided to do private lessons, so we meet with Susie every 2-3 weeks.

Our work with Arizona is slow going, but she’s getting there. we really want to avoid luring and forcing her into position as much as possible, so it’s taking longer to teach her to sit and heel then it could.

Ari is a bundle of energy, but she is extremely curious and confident, so it’s been a learning experience for us and a lot of fun at the same time. I had hoped to be further in her basic training by now, but with her energy and independent-mindedness, I needed to take a step back and let her mature and let me enjoy her without the frustration. I did this with Rogue and even though her training took longer, I think that in the end she became a better companion for us, so I hope the same can be said for Ari when she’s Rogue’s age.

we finally got Arizona’s CKC paperwork in the mail this past week. She is now officially registered as: Taygold’s Kindred Spirit.

She will make her conformation debut next weekend at the Elgin County Kennel Club show, which also happens to be the Purina National. Arizona is still considered a Baby Puppy, so she will only show on Sunday. Canyon is also entered, but he shows on both Saturday and Sunday with Huib and then again on Saturday with our friend Kira, who will make her debut as a Junior Handler.

I am not so sure Ari will do well in the CKC conformation shows, because she’s from a working line, so I talked to my friend Amy who has Dalmatians and I think we’re going to try and show our dogs together in the US starting in February. I just need to ask Arizona’s breeder for full breeding rights, so that I can register her with the AKC – wish me luck!

That’s probably about all I have to update everyone on for now with Arizona. I have some entertaining antics to share, but I will try and put them together in a separate post.

RIM Park

Every Friday we get together with our friend karen and her dog, Spark, in either Guelph or Waterloo.

this week we chose to travel to RIM Park with Arizona and Cessna.

I had never been to RIM Park, so it was a pretty neat experience. There were tons of different things to do with Arizona and Spark.

We took them on various bleachers, over a number of different surfaces and even had them walking on the playground equipment.

Spark wasn’t too sure about some of the surfaces and playground stuff, but Arizona continues to wow us with her fearlessness.

Brooke, Cessna and Arizona sit in the middle of an artificial turf soccer field. Brooke is wearing a long sleeved teal shirt with a navy blue vest, jeans, a white roots baseball cap and white running shoes. Cessna is lying beside her wearing her black leather CVC harness, purple Silverfoot martingale collar that has brown Haida whales on it and a black nylon leash that goes across Brooke's body. Arizona is wearing her Mickey Mouse collar and harness with a thin black nylon leash. Arizona is all fuzzy because she's trying to jet away.

same picture as before, but this time Arizona is laying down in front of Brooke and Cessna.

Rogue In Action

After missing July’s tracking lesson, we got back at it.

And, Rogue was a freaking pro!!

Rogue searches for the scent. the picture is taken from the side, you can see me holding her tight leash and Huib walking closer to her head in case she needs some direction.

A front view of Rogue searching.

A front view picture taken from a lower point.

rogue is getting close to the end of the track we laid. She's pulling hard towards her prize.

Rogue has found her orange Orbi ball on an orange braided nylon strap. The picture is sort of taken from the side back and you can only see Rogue with her toy.

We laid two shorter (50 feet long) and three or four longer (130 feet long) tracks for rogue to do.

On the shorter tracks, we had the treats laid out every couple of feet, but once we got to the longer tracks she was only getting treats about every 10 to 20 feet. On the longer tracks, Huib would lay four treats a foot apart from one another and then walk 15 to 20 feet before he laid four more treats a foot apart from one another.

Rogue freaking rocked the tracking lesson. If we had not run out of treats, the instructor was going to have us start spacing the treats out to 25 or 30 feet – which is our homework.

Huib, Rogue and I stand together. Huib and I are facing the camera, but rogue has her side showing. Huib is wearing jeans with a navy blue hooded sweatshirt. I am wearing jeans with a teal t-shirt and navy blue vest, pink baseball cap and rogue is wearing her teal Silverfoot martingale and a brown leather braided leash.

Rogue made us SO proud! We are going to try hard to practice before the next session, when we’ll begin learning about tracking corners.

3 Months Already!!

Our little golden girl is now 3 months old.

Arizona sits on a big rock.

Arizona has experienced a lot of new things over the past two weeks.

On the 8th, we met up with our friends Karen and Spark at waterloo Park. When we arrived there were a couple guys playing drums, the noise didn’t phase Rogue or Arizona. We walked around the various park animals; peacocks, llamas, ponies, donkeys, pigs, ducks deer and chickens. Rogue was really interested in the animals, but was able to still guide me safely – which is a huge improvement from her predecessor, who couldn’t ever work in a park or around other animals. Arizona was interested in all of the animals, but really liked the ducks. after touring the animals we walked along the various paths and over bridges.

Arizona has become really confident on leash, so it’s definitely time to buy her a harness, so she doesn’t get into the habit of pulling on her collar.

On the 9th we went to Kira’s trailer. this was Arizona’s first opportunity to try out swimming. Because of the rough water I decided to have her wear a life jacket. she took to water so quickly that you’d think she has always been swimming.

Arizona runs down a cement boat ramp towards the water. She's wearing a pink camo life jacket.

While at the lake Arizona met several people and got to play with two poodles and a shepherd mix.

Arizona swims towards our friend Kira. You can see her little tail straight out behind her.

After swimming we hung out for a while and had dinner with Kira and her mom. Arizona dug up Sam’s garden – BAD PUPPY!! – and got to see a campfire for the first time.

Side view of rogue on a dock looking out at the water. She's wearing a red with black life jacket.

Rogue swam a bit more than previous years, but still felt more comfortable when she wore her life jacket.

On the 10th we went to visit Phoenix’s foster mom, alice, at her retirement home. Arizona found it a bit warm there, but finally settled on the tile after being pet by over a dozen people. she had wheelchairs and walkers pass her while she napped, but she didn’t even care.

After leaving Alice we went to my Aunt Dawn’s place where Arizona had a chance to meet my Aunt’s three little dogs, as well as, my cousin and her two kids. Arizona had no issues with my Aunt’s dogs and she played well with my cousin’s kids.

the only thing she did at one point that wasn’t so good was when she tried to pull the 3 year old’s shorts down, lol!

On the 13th Arizona had her first vet appointment. Bianca says she is a really healthy puppy and thinks she will be tall and slim. Arizona is just over 20lbs and got boosters for both Parvo and distemper. Bianca wasn’t sure about what the breeder’s vet gave the puppies, so decided to go with the boosters in order to make sure Arizona didn’t miss the important period of full immunity. She said her fecal test came back fine and that she doesn’t feel Arizona needs to go on Revolution this year. She says we’ll give her the rabies vaccine around a year of age like we did with Rogue, so we won’t need to bring her back until the others come for their annual check up.

On the 14th we went to Kira’s final soccer game of the summer. Arizona was busy mowing the lawn and exploring the area around our chairs the entire game, so when we got home she was absolutely exhausted.

On Friday night Arizona didn’t want to sleep, so I ended up having to go downstairs and sleep on the couch with her so that Huib could sleep for work. We had a really rough day on Saturday, which might also have been related to my horrible migraine, so when Huib got home in the evening I had a complete breakdown. I told him that I regret getting Arizona and that I feel as though she’s too much for us. I told him that I wished I had returned her after a week so we could get our money back, but that I knew that wouldn’t be happening now. I told him how frustrated I was about her mouthiness and vocalness and how I believed she was rude and mean to the other dogs.

Huib patiently listened to me while holding my hand and then gave me a big hug, and took over caring for Arizona for the rest of the night.

On Sunday we went to Pet smart and I bought Arizona two new crinkly Skinneez toys, a giraffe and an alligator, and then picked out a Mickey Mouse collar and harness. the collar is black and the harness is red with each of them having a ribbon sewed on it with Mickey’s head shape in red, yellow and blue. My description probably doesn’t make the most sense, so I’ll try to get a picture of them soon.

the past two weeks have been really challenging.

Arizona is extremely smart and devious, so we’ve really had to keep a close eye on her and make sure to use every moment as a teachable one.

I’ve continued to work on recall, ‘leave it’ and sit, and have begun introducing down and hand targeting.

I really hope my migraines calm down soon so that I can work more regularly with Arizona on these Level 1 behaviours, but in the meantime I am just trying to do at least a couple training sessions a day.

Arizona The Dare Devil

I really need to start making notes on what Arizona does each week for these posts.

Hmmm…

Arizona is really beginning to grow. For a while I thought she wasn’t growing, but this week she seems to be slightly longer, a bit heavier and I’ve had to make her puppy collar bigger. I’m not sure how much she weighs, but when we got her she was 10.2lbs and I’m pretty sure she’s over 15 now.

I’ve continued to work on her name recognition, recall, sit and zen (or leave it). She’s doing well in all areas, so I think it’s definitely time to add something new, such as ‘down’ and maybe ‘stand’.

Arizona is already an escape artist, dare devil and incredibly smart at just shy of 12 weeks.

She’s earned the nicknames of Trouble, Little Devil and wild Child.

We have put a fence up and thought we closed off every single puppy escape route, but yesterday Arizona found the only spot we had missed. I didn’t realize she had left the yard until our neighbour came over to warm me. She said that Arizona had slipped through the fence, but had made it back in on her own. Huib reinforced the spot and hopefully it will keep our little escape artist out of trouble.

We are currently using Canyon’s grooming table as a cat dish holder. Arizona is highly food motivated, so decided to try jumping up onto the table. Huib watched her and she got her back feet onto the edge of the table, then as she tried to push herself up further, she fell backwards, lol!

Thankfully puppies are bouncy because it didn’t even seem to phase her. Once she got over the shock of falling, she was even more determined to figure out a way of getting up onto the table.

I’m continuing to work on her ‘leave it’ cue, so hopefully sooner than later I’ll get to a point where I can use it to stop the attempts at getting the cat food.

Last night when I was putting away some garbage I heard Arizona’s bell jingle from the direction of the dining table. I walked toward the sound and found her walking along the table trying to find any food we’d missed. I quickly picked her up off the table, put her onto the floor and pushed all of the chairs in, so hopefully she won’t do it again.

We’re using a canvas crate to block access to the upstairs for now. Huib is going to install a gate to block access to the cat litter box, but for now we’re using the crate since it’s light and works pretty well.

Logan, our calico, seems to enjoy taunting Arizona, so the other day she took off running and jumped over the crate to get upstairs. Arizona took off after her, pushed the crate out of the way and then ran up the stairs. Huib quickly went to the treat container and whistled. Arizona came racing back, flew down the stairs and landed on top of the canvas crate.

This little girl is one of the most curious and brave puppies we have ever had. if she keeps up with these demonstrations, we’re going to have a heart attack before she turns 6 months old.

what else have we done…

Huib and I took her for a short visit to his work. He is the Assistant Director of Care at one of the local long-term care homes, so when he had to go in for a quick check of something, I decided to bring Arizona. She was really curious about the smells in his office and greeted one of the nurses. We’ll probably bring her again during the day sometime, so she can meet some of the residents.

On Saturday my friend was making balloons at City Hall for John Galt Day. Since it was outdoors I thought it would be a good opportunity to bring both Rogue and Arizona out. I had Rogue work and Huib carried Arizona since she doesn’t have her vaccines yet. there were kids playing in the splash pad, tons of people checking out the various vendors and then my friend making balloon animals for a constant line of kids.

rogue was AMAZING. She was very focused on working and she wasn’t even phased by the shrieking and popping balloons. I got a lot of comments on how well behaved she is and when I told people I trained her myself, they were even more impressed. I don’t really like when people tell me I’m inspiring, but I do like it when I get compliments on rogue. With her being my first owner-trained dog, it’s always nice to hear compliments from the public.

Arizona hadn’t had her morning nap, so she was pretty sleepy by the time we arrived at the festivities. Huib parked the car in a lot 10 minutes away and had Arizona walk there and then back. She pretty much slept in his arms the entire time we were at City Hall and when she wasn’t, she was lying in the shade, lol!

Today is Arizona’s first full day of eating just raw. We had switched her to orijen puppy formula from the Pro Plan her breeder was feeding, but we thought it was time to begin feeding her raw like the others, so began the switch a week or so ago. for the next couple of weeks we will probably only feed her ground or chunks of meat with ground up egg shells for calcium. then we’ll start adding in softer bones, like turkey or chicken neck bones or wings before we try her on the tougher pork, lamb and beef bones.

tonight we’ll be registering her for the oakville and District Kennel Club’s conformation dog show September 12th to the 14th. She’ll be in the baby puppy class, so won’t earn any points toward her championship, but it will be a good time to start getting her used to the environment. She’ll show again in October as a baby puppy at the Purina National in London and then in November the real serious stuff begins 🙂

This week has been a lot better than previous weeks. Arizona seems to be settling in more and we’re learning her schedule. She doesn’t like to sleep past 7:30am, but must have a nap from 9:20am until 12:30pm or she’s a very cranky puppy. she’s started sleeping four to five hours straight every night and she’s beginning to show signs of possibly knowing where she needs to relieve. Now we just need to work on the curiosity because it’s going to get her into trouble soon.

10 Weeks Old

The past week has been full of ups and downs. Maybe it’s primarily due to the fact that I have had migraines almost every moment of the week, so my patience is a bit thin, but it’s definitely been a trying one.

Arizona with her head sticking out the front screen door.

Arizona is learning tons and settling in amazingly well with our gang, but she’s also becoming more determined and opinionated.

rogue continues to play with her and has even started explaining the rules and boundaries – I am SO proud of the Rogue Monster!

Cessna doesn’t know what to do with the puppy and has decided to just keep ignoring her existence.

Canyon tolerates her efforts to play and has even started doing his tug game he used to play with Rogue. He lies on the ground holding a toy in his mouth and Arizona tugs on the toy with all her might. Rogue and Canyon still play this game, so as Rogue became bigger she started pulling him around the house.

Arizona sleeps well some nights, but sleeps horribly the following night, it’s SO frustrating!! I am hoping this pattern will stop sooner than later because the getting up every hour is quite exhausting.

She is sleeping in her crate without the blood-curdling screams though and even takes naps for a couple hours each morning in it, so that’s progress.

On Friday our friend Karen came with her 7 month old puppy, Spark, and our friend kelly came with her two dogs, Piper and Ace. It was a really good experience for Arizona to have the three dogs to interact with.

A view from above of Arizona sleeping under a chair while on a coffee date with a friend.

Spark played with her the most and got a bit rough at times, so Karen would grab his collar and have him relax for a minute before being allowed to return.

Piper took a bit to get used to Arizona’s size. I think a lot of dogs wonder if it’s safe or appropriate to be playing with such a small puppy. After she realized that Arizona wasn’t breakable, they had a blast wrestling and chasing one another. Ace wanted nothing to do with the puppy, but that isn’t too abnormal for the big guy, he is more into wandering the yard or mourning Rogue.

On Saturday, Kelly took Arizona for a few hours. She had a coffee date with a friend, so took Arizona to sit on the patio.

On the learning front, Arizona is doing amazingly well at learning to come when we whistle, so now we need to decide if it is worthwhile teaching her the word ‘come’ or if whistling is good enough for recall. Her work with zen (or ‘leave it’) is coming along. I am starting to say ‘leave it’ as she goes to back off from the treat I have in my palm. Arizona is also doing really well at learning to sit. Our little friend, Kira, has been helping me out with this. I really want to teach Arizona to sit using the capturing method, so I have had Kira clicking whenever she sees Arizona sit. Arizona began to quickly figure out what she was getting the clicks and treats for, so now Kira is starting to say the word ‘sit’ as Arizona’s bum is moving to the floor. I think she’ll be ready to learn a hand signal for sit by the end of the week.

I am going to continue working on zen, sit and come, but I also think I may start trying to capture the ‘down’ and try teaching Arizona to give paw or maybe even paw target. I am eager to teach her to nose target, but my friend Robin has suggested I avoid teaching the nose target until Arizona is understanding ‘leave it’ because she is extremely food motivated and needs to learn a bit of self-control.

Arizona has started to switch over to eating raw. We switched her over to Orijen puppy just over a week ago from Pro Plan, but now it’s time to switch her to eating raw like the others. So far she is just getting a tiny ground beef ball with her breakfast, but probably by the weekend she’ll be eating almost purely raw. Maybe the diet change will also help with the house training.

The house training is a challenge, but I think it’s improving. Arizona is now 10 weeks, so her ability to wait should be increasing. We have reintroduced the box with wood stove pellets, like her breeder used, so I am hoping this will speed up the house training process. The only real issue I am having, that is perplexing, is that Arizona has now decided pooping in her exercise pen is acceptable, but seems to know that she shouldn’t be relieving in her crate.

Puppy rearing can be such an adventure, stay tuned for more updates on Taygold’s Kindred Spirit, who should have really been named Trouble not Arizona.