Nosework #4

Tonight Ranger played with the big boys and we searched for only Wintergreen. His first cycle through he went passed the box and smelled them all before coming back to the scent. The instructor says it’s because he was looking to see which one was different than the rest and he was just making sure.

He did well on his runs, but was less interested in settling between turns. I’m going to bring his mat next week (and water) to let him have his own spot to crash while waiting and see if that helps him.

He did smash one box on a run and turned to see if that would be enough to get him a treat, but we’ve added a verbal “nope” and he’ll move on from it and search out the scent.

Our homework is to keep doing what we’re doing at home to build up habit. We’ll be working on increasing his alert.

They’ve also brought up that they will be holding a Canine Good Neighbour test in the future and asked if Ranger would be interested. Said I’d be up for it, but who knows if Ranger will pass (not sure if his enthusiasm will get in the way). They’ll be going over everything that’s needed to pass and holding a class or two for prep so I said why not?

More things to do with Ranger the better.

Tuesday Ranger got to blow off some steam with his favourite BFF; these two are such monkeys.

two dogs playing

their faces kill me

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Agility #6

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY ARMS /rant

Today’s class was pretty good although we did have some little hiccups. I think a lot has to do with Ranger’s limited exercise since last Friday, and throw in the warmer evening. We started with having them go over some low caveletti work and then some table work. Ranger is happy to bounce on and off the table, but still needs luring into the down. I really need to work on it at home, but first need to find something to be the table. He has a pretty solid “go to your mat” so that should help us.

Jump-tunnel-jump involved him coming unglued and trying to climb/jump/stand on the tunnel entrance the first couple tries. Just full of bouncyomgicannotcontainmyself energy but we finally managed a good sequence. We’re still running into issues with him watching me or my hands and not paying attention (which I think had a lot to do with this). I end up moving like a robot with my arms by my side trying to draw no attention to them, but sometimes he still tries to come mouth them and loses his line to the next obstacle. Putting them on my stomach doesn’t help either.

His A-frame was good, but he’s fast and we weren’t using a wait before it. If I rush to get to the other side he goes faster, if I stay slow he is ahead of me and I can’t see to click as he hits the contact. I know a lot has to do with my timing and ability so we’ll trundle along. Maybe I should ask to put him in a wait before most obstacles?

Tunnel-jump-tunnel had to be broken down into a reward after each piece to slow him down and re-engage his brain. He did check out once though and bombed past the tunnel and headed for the fence…I ran (read: quickly hobbled) in the opposite direction and he came right back (this was before we broke it down).

Sometimes I watch the other people in the class and wish my dog was as slow. It’s partially that he’s the biggest dog in the class (him and one other are jumping at 16″, the rest are at 10″) so he’s obviously going to get places faster, but even the other big dog has a beautiful slow canter between obstacles while mine it creating his own squeal marks and dust clouds. I think it’s going to take us longer to get farther along (not that I care how long it takes us if/when we’re ready to trial) only because I have to learn how to do everything fast…and trying to control my brain, eyes, voice, and arms while he’s at mach 10 makes me feel like a lump.

*deep breath*

Ranger’s teeter (and eventual teeter-jump-jump) were the highlight of my class though. I use a wait command so that I can get up to the end in time (still having the instructor there to control it) and he handled it really well and wasn’t bothered by the noise. He released and popped over both jumps…apparently it’s the straightest they’ve every seen him go. I’m super happy he enjoys the teeter because when we started with the baby teeter last summer at a previous beginner agility he was terrified of the noise and we had to use pillows under the landing to soften it. Also, at least for now, his wait is fantastic.

Is it easier or harder to start agility with a fast dog? While I glance wistfully at the other people who need to encourage their dogs to pick up the pace in class I can’t help but feel a little jealous since I blink and mine would be 5 jumps ahead. This is the dog who kept taking the last two once strides as a spread jump in our last set of sessions.

Nosework #3

At the end of the week Will succumbed to a nasty case of stomach virus which we originally thought was food poisoning…until I came down with it on Sunday at 2am. First time in decades I felt that awful. Ranger spent all of Sunday on the bed with me (or waiting outside the bathroom) and Will had to come get him to make him go potty/eat. If someone had offered to put me down I might have taken them up on the offer, but by Monday I just felt like I was hungover and by the evening I was able to bring Rangerto class.

dog laying on floor

hot dog hunter!

I was worried that he would have forgotten everything since we didn’t get to practice between classes due to everything and I ran him through a hot dog find a couple times in the afternoon before we went.

Class was small since it’s a long weekend and there was only three shepherds, the rotties, and us. One of the gsd has a hard time with Ranger in the class (was attacked by a black dog and fear reacts to him), but Ranger didn’t stare at her and minded his own business.

We did out first set with hot dog in the boxes and then combined it with wintergreen (the first scent we’ll look the trial with…I have no idea how that all works, but I definitely need to research it). Ranger went through the boxes searching and you could see his face wrinkle up at the weird new smell. He wasn’t was interested in eating all the hot dog in the box (I wouldn’t have been either…I could smell it from 5.5 feet higher than Ranger and his nose is way better than mine), but wasn’t put off searching. We then switched to only a piece in the box with the WG and me supplying the reward by hand (but in the box).

Ranger tried to cheat me a couple times over our other runs. He tried signalling on the box where the scent box had been before and smashed a couple boxes. The instructor says that it will happen around this time since they’ve figured out a little of what you’re after and want to see exactly how few steps they need to take for the reward. “Look mum, this is a nice box….treat? No, ok…..”. His end run was great and he sniffed each box before choosing the right one with his nose shoved right in the hole.

Homework this week: 1 piece of hotdog and the WG in the box for searching and reward delivered by hand in the box.

Ranger the model

A couple weekends ago GPAC (Greyhound Pets of Atlantic Canada) held a studio photo shoot fundraiser for their rescue and of course I brought Ranger along. His BFF Gauge also came and we spent some time at the studio getting photos taken.

I am always up for photos of my pets (as people could see from my FB account; alllllll animal photos) and studio shots were something that I could never do myself. I was expecting some nice shots, but was blown away by how awesome they are!

dog laying down

My handsome man credit: Kelly Lynn Martell

Photographing dark dogs can always be tricky, but I think she really caught him in each photo.

dog sitting

Regal and majestic (for about three seconds) credit: Kelly Lynn Martell

His white chest stands out so well against his black coat and the switch to Acana dry food has made it even softer and shinier than before.

dog standing

Ready to play? credit: Kelly Lynn Martell

This last photo is my favourite. It shows everything that I see in my dog when we are out together doing something (anything). He’s always willing to do his best, even if it’s performing his tricks in a strange studio with flashing lights, strange people, and many dog smells.

dog in play bow

love him credit: Kelly Lynn Martell

And of course I have to add in my favourite picture of his BFF. Gauge also behaved so well and I managed with a combination of calmness, patience, and treats to get him posing too.

dog sitting with tongue out

A little bit of derp makes every dog better! credit: Kelly Lynn Martell

Agility #5

One day I will get some pictures from agility to go with these posts. This was supposed to be the class, but with game 7 on that night (go habs go, sorry for your loss bruins *evil laugh*) I decided to drag my photographer out next week instead.

We worked on our one jump warm up with me facing the jump with Ranger at my side in a sit, then asking him to jump. The point of the exercise was having him jump over and away from me, circling back round the standards to come back for his reward. He picked it up well and did it half a dozen times before he got bored. Trying to keep his attention on things and stopping before he gets bored is something I will always need to work on with him.

We worked on the chute again and as long as I keep my hands down by my side we have more of a chance that he will look where he is going. He’ll now go through with the chute fully on the ground.

We also worked up to a jump-jump-tunnel-jump-jump and a single really curved tunnel. Ranger gets a little fumbled as he gets excited so we did a lot of my walking with him instead of trying to add even a slow jog. He loves jumping though and he’s moved up to 16″ which means he pays a lot more attention going over.

The schnauzer had it in for him this class for some reason and actually zoomed off from his handler a couple of times to try to go after Ranger…lots of grumbling and circling with some sniffing, but I pulled the old “shove your dogs face in your crotch” trick so there was never a face to face meeting. Ranger was super good about it though and didn’t seem put off by any of it. Anything to get more treats lol.

This was the first agility class that Ranger got spacey towards the end. I’m not sure if nosework on Mondays with a day off in between means that his brain is more tired, or if adding the sequences is using his brain power more, but he crashed HARD when he got home so his brain definitely got a workout too.

dog and person wearing habs clothing

Ranger and I after agility waiting for the game!

Also found out this week that Will has been approved for transfer from navy to air force meaning we’ll be packing up and heading to Borden, ON within the year. Over the next four weeks things will be planned a little more and we’ll have more of an idea when we’re actually going.

I’ve been scouring the internet to make sure there are doggy sport centres close by so we will be able to continue our training.

Nosework #2

dog waiting for class

Do I get to hunt hot dogs again?

I know I say this a lot, but damn does Ranger make me look good.

Since last week Ranger had five sessions of hunting hot dogs at home in cardboard boxes. Each session involved three searches with him being tethered in the kitchen while I set up on the living room floor. I wanted a word we could use for only nosework (since search is a common word, and find it is used for his toys) so I decided on “Zoeken” which is dutch for search.

It took probably two or three sessions of homework before Ranger understood what he was supposed to do with our last one around lunch time today.

Well, it seems the homework really paid off.

dog yawning

I just wanna find them!

The instructor send us out with the rubbermaid containers (circular hole cut in the top) before realizing we were the newbies. I had given him the command and he had burst out onto the boxes as she mentioned this might be a bit too difficult for him…not when hot dog hunting is involved! He found the box with the food on his first pass-through. Each set is two searches usually and after our second one they told me I should wait for more of an alert (or interest in the box) before opening it up and giving him the reward.

On the second set he stopped at the box and looked at me, so I asked him to “show me”. Well, Ranger thought I couldn’t understand because he jumped on the box with his front feet and pawed at it while staring me right in the eye…lots of praise for that one! The rest of his turns he took with the same running leap and found the box each time. Super proud doggy mum here (and glad we’re not finding IEDs…or we’d be blown to bits)

dog watching another dog work

taking notes

My proudest moment though was having one of the other people (who works SAR dogs) come over to tell me specifically that Ranger was doing really well, ask his age, and say that it shows we did our homework through the week 🙂 They don’t want to push him too fast so he’ll be on hot dog only for at least another week and then we may try pairing with wintergreen the week after (or the week after that).