Monday, January 28, 2013

Obedience 2, Class 1

Zenzi had her first Obedience 2 class with Sherry.  All in all, it was a review.  We did Sit, Down, Go-To-Mat, and Touch on a verbal cue only.  We counted out 10 treats, and any refusals meant the treat went into a cup instead of as a reward to the dog.  Zenzi was, I believe, the only dog to get 0 cup treats for every exercise. :)

She was wiggly to see everybody, and a star for focusing in class.  I'm so proud. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zenzi's 3rd Day of Daycare

But first... We've gotten the confirmation that Zenzi has earned her Disc Dog Burnout Beginner, Novice, and Intermediate titles!  Hooray!

Reports from Daycare are as follows:
Her best doggie friend of the day was Ziva, the German Collie.
Her favorite staffers were Amanda and Kristina.
Comments:  Zenzi continues to warmup nicely!  Her confidence is growing each day!
Favorite Activities:  Chase, sun bathing, cuddling, teacher's pet.

When I called on my lunch to check up on her, they said that she was more playful today than she's ever been.  She also let more staff pet her. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Zenzi Graduates Puppy Class & Obedience 1! :)

Our last puppy class was a lot of fun.  We did some loose-leash walking and heel work outside, which Zenzi totally rocked.  Amanda put 4 piles (4-5 pieces each) of NB meat roll on the ground as a temptation.  Zenzi didn't even look, just stayed right with me. :) When I did point out to her that, oh by the way, you just ignored 20 pieces of puppy crack, she still did a solid Leave It.  Such a good puppy!  Puppy play tim was great, too.  Zenzi approached the other owners, the trainers, and didn't mind being sniffed.  Though she still thought play time should not be dog-dog.  Okay.

The Obedience class introduced heeling, and we totally rocked it.  Zenzi was SO GOOD.  We did several large circles in the middle of the room with our classmates on the perimeter, observing.  She never left my side to go investigate, and she stayed in position 99% of the time.  We definitely had the strongest Heel.

Graduation was:
Heel (sit at left side)
Sit to greet
Leave it - trainer was seated, had NB meat roll in her hands
Go to mat - a foreign mat
Stay while owner backs up 3 steps
Recall to owner
Touch their hand on arrival

We nailed it! :) So next week we start Obedience 2.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Zenzi's 2nd Day in Daycare

Well, I again dropped Zenzi off for Daycare yesterday at 10:30am.  I was much more relaxed, not so nervous.

Zenzi pulled me into the lobby.  She was clearly happy to be there.  She was a little apprehensive when a different lady took her from me to take her to Amanda.  I didn't have a chance to see her with Amanda being acclimated as I had to go to work, but I felt confident, given her success last week.

She was fabulous!  They said she adjusted in no time at all, and was able to join everyone else.  She spent the day mingling, being friendly and curious, but still not ready to play.  I was delighted to hear, when I called to check in on my lunch break, that Kristina, a trainer/daycare staff person, had introduced her fearfully shy sheltie.  Zenzi and the sheltie kept each other company. :) I found this really sweet, because in preschool, they always put me next to the shy ones.

When I picked her up at 5:30, Zenzi was again ecstatic to see me.  We have the best greetings:  kisses, hugs, kisses and hugs...  There was a man standing in the lobby waiting for his border collie, and he surprised her as he stared at us, so she gave him a few good barks.  I simply soothed those away, and she accepted his presence without issue after that.  (We're going to be going out a lot more from now on to make sure this man-reactivity thing is remedied.)

She is much more confident actually greeting people already.  I'm very glad of this, and look forward to future sessions!  We'll actually have to start working on a formal sit-to-greet... this paws up stuff is for kindergarteners. (For those who don't know, Paws Up is the trick I've employed to help Zenzi overcome any fears of stationary objects she's expressed -- she's volunteering it with people now.)

Here's her report card. :) Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zenzi's 11th Puppy Class & 4th Obedience 1 Class

Puppy Class #11
The most exciting thing about this was not the class itself.  Rick got to go with us, and for that I am so grateful.  It was Zenzi's entrance into the facility and her greeting of the trainers.

Generally, Zenzi is very cautious entering the training room.  I'm not sure why, but it is what it is... or was.  Today, however, Zenzi pulled me into the facility.  I kid you not.  When we got into the room, she ran up to Amanda and Kenlan, and even introduced me to Kristina.  When she saw all three of these ladies, she immediately jumped up on them for pets.  They had her sit, and she happily did so to commence fawning all over her.  I about cried with joy.  We had 10 previous puppy classes and in none of them did she demonstrate such friendly, happy-go-lucky enthusiasm to greet others at any time throughout the class, let alone right from the start.  Even Amanda was surprised and pleased.  We all agreed, Daycare did her a world of good, and we will continue going every Tuesday.

In class, we reviewed Touch, Sit to Greet (owner), On/Off, Sit-Stay, and did some Nosework out of postal flat-rate boxes (Duh!  What a great idea!!) before puppy play time.  Zenzi still didn't really want to play with any of the other puppies, and this was the biggest class ever, but she definitely seemed much more relaxed and confident while we played fetch.  She would go through all the chaos of the other puppies playing to retrieve a toy.  If another puppy showed interest in her, she would just ignore them.  Such a working girl. ;)

Obedience Class #4
This is the final week before graduation next week.  Gosh, it's gone by so fast!  We missed the 3rd class because we were on vacation, but she already knows it all anyway.  No worries.

We honestly could have made a better demo team than the instructor and her dog, Maggie.  We worked on Attention, Leave It, Go to Your Mat, Loose-Leash Walking, and reviewed Sit to Greet.  Zenzi is a Watch Me-a-holic, so no worries there.  Go to Your Mat has been in the bag since our first session weeks ago at home, and she will walk on a loose-leash in working mode no problem.  Still working on making that automatic when she's not in working mode, but we're getting there.  Zenzi generally fails Sit to Greet a Stranger, but today was awesome.  Usually, she will run and hide.  Today, she actually tried to jump up on Kristina!  When she sat, she let Kristina give her chin scritches.  I fed her treats throughout, and it was glorious.  I am so pleased she's growing up to be more happy-go-lucky friendly with people.  She was also much improved at Champagne Bakery where we went for a late breakfast.  She accepted pats from strangers with very little coaxing and actually smiled a happy and relaxed smile.

Next week is graduation.  Here are our tasks:

  • Heel/Side (finish)
  • Watch Me while trainer approaches
  • Sit to Greet while trainer approaches to shake my hand
  • Go to Mat:  send dog away to their mat a few feet away and have them stay.
  • Come When Called:  dog comes to you and touches your hand having been released from their mat.
  • Leave It:  trainer is seated and the dog has to leave the food in her hand on cue.
Wish us luck!  We're going to practice, but I'm pretty confident we'll pass with flying colors. :)

*There is one thing that is a bit concerning about Zenzi's socialization, and it is that she appears to be reacting pretty fearfully to tall, large men. =/ We'll try to set up situations where such people are the predictors of good things, but I don't have any at my disposal.  We'll see if it's something she can grow out of with continued counter-conditioning in day-to-day life.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Zenzi's 1st Day in Daycare!

As I mentioned, Zenzi had her first day in Daycare at Wags & Wiggles of Tustin on Tuesday.  I was a nervous wreck, but having the knowledge of a plan with a trainer to help acclimate Zenzi at her pace was reassuring.

The plan was:  Zenzi would enter the small dog daycare into an ex-pen.  From there, she could observe and be approached within reason.  They would introduce a similar personality dog into her ex-pen when she seemed comfortable with the environment.  If/When she made friends, they would remove the ex-pen and let her mingle with a friend.  If she got overwhelmed, she could return to the ex-pen and try again later.

When I dropped her off at 10:30am, she was a little hypersensitive to the sounds of the place.  People entering, dogs barking, paperwork shuffling was all suddenly very loud.  She acclimated to that pretty quickly, and when the paperwork was in order, off she went with Amanda (the trainer).  I felt like I was sending my toddler off to pre-school for the first day.  I watched her enter the ex-pen.  She was gently wagging her tail, calmly observing, and comfortably taking pets from Amanda, who sat next to her.  Off to work I went.

I called on my lunch to check up on her.  The man at the front desk kindly informed me that she was a pleasure in the daycare -- not too crazed, and at the moment was just relaxing in the sunshine.  She had been a little shy at first, but warmed up quickly.  Whew!

I got to spy on her through the center's webcam after lunch.  She was cruising through, tail relaxed.  She didn't seem to be hanging with anyone in particular, but she didn't seem worried, either.

I picked her up around 5:00, everyone in the lobby said, "Ooooh, you're here for Zenzi?  She's SO CUTE!" I smiled.  Shortly thereafter, when someone had gone to collect her, Amanda emerged to give me a more detailed report.  She said it only took Zenzi about 5-10 minutes to start mingling with everyone, and seemed completely comfortable the rest of the day.  She didn't ever play/wrestle with anyone hardcore, but she was content to be curious and mingling.  I was delighted with the news.

When Zenzi first came out, she didn't recognize me at first.  When she did not 2 seconds later, we had the best greeting in the world.  The kind of mutual hugs and kisses, me kneeling on the ground to her level.  The sort that made everyone around us go, "Awwwwe..."  Off we went home, assuring everyone we would be back next Tuesday.

click to enlarge

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Zenzi is 5 Months Old!

On January 6th, Zenzi had her 5-month birthday, and yesterday she turned 22 weeks.  She's growing up and looking good...

Her ears can't decide what to do, and I've been hemming and hawing over how to handle it.  I've decided I would really prefer her ears match.  I don't care what they do, up, down, somewhere in-between -- so long as it's the same on both sides.  So I've read up on all the ways to manipulate ears, and decided that this one is the least invasive, and follows her natural ear set the most anyway.  I ordered the glue and it's on its way.  Since she's older, I'm just going to do step 4 -- none of that yarn nonsense.

What are her favorite things in the whole wide world?  Fetch, tug and train.  She loves to retrieve, and she's quite good at it.  She's quite the avid tugger, and can't even refrain from leash tug on walks if things aren't exciting enough.  She also loves to work, figure things out, and learn.  Also high on the list is wrestling with Dolce. ;)

I took a few photos of the little monster last night.  She is teething at the moment, and has quite the toothy grin.  Her pearly whites coming in look humungous compared to her puppy teeth, but I'm quite relieved not to be left scratched in every encounter with those sharp utensils.

I am so happy that her front legs are starting to lengthen.

She is so proud of herself when she fetches.
It's even more adorable in person.

I am such a sucker for the head tilt. :)

I adore this photo, and am so proud of myself for getting it!

It's not nearly as intense in real life.
This is "Throw the ball!" face.

Sometimes, she is lady-like and sweet and just cute.

But we all know it's a joke. ;)
You can see her adult teeth down there!

As I mentioned before, we were introduced to dog trainer Chris Bach, and I have ordered her book, Training The Third Way's Comprehensive Reference Book, second ed.  I discovered her through my Tawzer Dog DVD rental subscription, and have put ALL of her materials in my queue.  I look forward to including her methods into our regime as we begin to seriously work on obedience and rally to pass our CGC and look into rally trials this year. :) By the way, we start our Obedience 2 class January 26th. 

I'm a little nervous... I'm putting Zenzi in daycare once a week to help with her socialization and to help keep her busy on my longest day (Tuesday).  We start today!  I've been assured that Amanda, our class instructor, will be with her for introductions to the group.  Zenzi will be behind a barrier (through which she can see all the other dogs) and made comfortable in her separate area before they bring in like-minded small dogs for introductions one at a time.  If she isn't overwhelmed, I'm sure she can be a social butterfly and have a ball playing with everyone.  I also hope this prevents any future dog reactivity issues like Dolce has.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Dolce Bootcamp & The CCH Criteria for Obtaining His CGC

Now that Dolce has recovered (mostly) from his stressful encounter with the 2 off-leash dog-aggressive dachshunds, adjusted to life in the new apartment complex, and is showing signs of boredom -- we're getting back to work on his reactivity/insecurity.


  • Build his confidence so he feels comfortable with me in new situations and environments.
  • Be able to pass by a dog in close-quarters without stress or aggressive display.
  • Be able to look into a strange dog's eyes without freaking out.
  • Be able to ignore a reactive dog.
  • Be accepting of even the most suspicious stranger in close quarters (no contact).
  • Be comfortable enough to play with toys in public.
  • CGC by the end of the year.
How We're Going to Get There
  • I want to build his confidence through lots of obedience (Chris Bach's Third Way, Sue Ailsby's Training Levels), tricks, and agility training using positive reinforcement.  By working on attention to me, eye contact, cues, and handling, he'll be heavily rewarded with someone he knows and loves for interactions he'll experience with others.  I also think that because of previous training methods, he doesn't trust me as much as he would/could/should.  I want to build that bond more.
  • I have three main criteria for him to feel that we've successfully mastered something.  He needs to be able to do it calmly, comfortably, and happily (CCH).  In order to address passing another dog in close quarters, looking into a dog's eyes, ignoring a reactive dog, and accepting a suspicious stranger, we are going to address all three elements separately.
  • To help him be calm in his trigger situations, I'm going to do a lot of Relaxation Protocol (RP) work at a safe enough distance.  I will mark and treat for eye blinks, looking away, sitting, lying down, head down, etc.
  • To help him be comfortable, we're going to do a lot of handling work at home, and do our training in new environments.  Jen over at Never Say Never Greyhounds pointed out the treasure trove of training locations with the dozens of parks at our disposal in a 5-mile radius when she gave me a lesson a couple Februaries ago.  Time to take advantage of these parks and really get Dolce socialized, but on his terms.  Distance makes a big difference, and just being out in the world and having a good training session should do wonders.
  • To help him be happy, we'll be sure to begin and end training sessions doing things he enjoys most -- exploring the wildlife and new scents, as well as getting extra yummy treats for interacting with me.  The exploration portion is obvious -- we'll do a perimeter session at each new location.  As for the interactions... This means lots of name game, touch, and auto-sit practice.  He adores these games and glows with pride every time we warm up with them.  We've got the meat roll in the fridge, ready to go. :)
  • To work on play drive in public, I'm going to really reinforce it at home.  When we go to places, part of our session will be to at least nose or paw touch, and chase a favorite toy.  This will likely be very slow-going, but if we can include just a little in every new environment, I'm hopeful that the connection will be made within the year.
Tools of the Trade
  • We're going to walk with his SENSE-ation harness attached to his collar by the leash (or the Halti harness).  I believe this is the best way to be humane and have control.  I need to do a lot more work desensitizing and counter-conditioning having the harness (and his winter coat) put on.  Ever since the lady at the shelter put that noose-type leash over his head, he has been super paranoid about things going over his head.  Poor little man.
  • We'll reserve use of the Halti halter for occasions when we will be working on proximity to strange dogs and control of Dolce's head will be essential.  He has that long, fragile Italian greyhound neck, and detests wearing it despite my utmost attempts to condition otherwise.
  • I need to remember to play the calming dog music CD when I leave the house.
  • I'm going to remember to take Natural Balance meat roll treats on all our walks, which will be solo save for the first walk of the early morning.  I have been using high grade kibble, but I don't think it's enough to really make the counter-conditioning process effective.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise.  We're going to get back into biking and jogging together on a regular basis throughout the week.  Good days to run are Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.  Good days to bike are Wednesdays and Thursdays.  We'll take the weekends off, I think.
  • Marker word.  I feel very strongly that when teaching a new behavior, a clicker is invaluable as a marker for its consistency.  However, for behavior work, I think San Diego Pam has a point in that clickers turn a dog's brain into training mode.  I don't necessarily want training mode, because of the emotional aspect to this type of training.  So I'm going to use a marker of "Good boy!" to express my enthusiasm for his behavior.  "Good boy" doesn't always have to be followed by a treat like the clicker does, and his tail wags a little bit when I say it -- it's a reinforcer in and of itself to some degree.
  • I'm going to use my realistically fake dogs, Rick, and Irvine Pam with her dogs, Lily and Bella, for setups before trying him out at IDOGS on Sundays.
  • He's going to need to feel as though the car and/or his crate is awesome so he can wait there while I work with Zenzi (and vice versa).  We've been laying the groundwork at meal times for this, so hopefully this will not be a difficult transition when he has his crate in the car for our outings.
Plan of Action
  • I learned a lot from Chris Bach's DVDs.  I want to build a chain, so I have to keep reminding Dolce how the chain works if he breaks it.  It's my job to set up the environment so he can be successful.  Dolce, I promise to give you more distance from now on, and to stop trying to force positive interactions on you. 
  • I want Dolce to come to me and look at me for praise when he sees a strange dog while we're out on a walk -- no matter what the other dog is doing.  Cues:  Name, Watch, Attention, Heel.  After that, it's just a matter of duration and proofing.
  • I want Dolce to enjoy being greeted by friendly people, and not to react strongly to unfriendly people.  He is to sit at my side to be greeted, and wait patiently to do so.  Cues:  Name, Heel (finish) + Handling.
  • If we are caught off-guard and there is no way to get enough distance in time, I am going to jackpot Look-At-That and/or Watch, whichever he is more comfortable with, until the trigger is gone, with Dolce facing me, sitting (or if he's too worried, standing) away from the trigger.  Cues:  Name, LAT, Sit, Watch.
  • I contacted Laurie Zurborg of Wags & Wiggles this morning inquiring about the upcoming Control Unleashed Workshop (4 hours, $120) and/or a Private Lesson (1.5 hours, $180).  I am going to take their CGC class with him when he's ready.  At the end of the class, we get to take the test.
  • I emailed Chris Bach yesterday about her DVDs and Books on her method, The Third Way and which would most likely apply to us.  No response yet, but I am getting the DVDs via my subscription to Tawzer. :)
Thanks for following along in our saga.  This year may be the year it all comes together.  I surely hope so.  If not, we've got time... <3 div="div">