Friday, December 31, 2010

Huge Milestone.. with VIDEO!

West has come so far, I figured it was about time he started getting "out and about". I wanted to enter him in a basic obedience class this session (sessions start every 2 months), but wasn't sure how he'd do with all the commotion. I didn't want to waste a class by entering him, only to have to sit in the corner for 8 weeks hiding from everyone. I figured I could simulate the stress of a class by taking him to town.

Today, my mom and gramma were going into Zellers. I figured it would be fairly quiet (Zellers is not all that popular since the Walmart opened up) and I know the layout of the parking lot fairly well, so I loaded up West in a crate, and off we went.

West was willing to take treats through the crate bars throughout the ride to our first stop. Between the first and second stop, I heard the "noise". He was sick. Sigh, so the shirt isn't a cure, but it sure seems to have helped. I think being in the crate might be an issue for him too. Lots of factors to play with (this was also a different car). We stopped at Zellers to let mom and gramma out, then I drove to the edge of the parking lot.

I opened the hatch and the crate door. West showed no desire to get out, which was fine. He waited nicely while I cleaned up his kennel, leashed him, then I invited him out. He looked at me like I must have grown two heads. He shrunk back into his kennel and shook a little. Poor guy! So, I just sat beside him in the back of the car, and fed him treats. After about 2 minutes, he was able and willing to come right out to the front of the crate, confidently. So, I stood up and invited him out again. Boing! Out he came!

Wow, the world is big! I assumed West would be worried about the people, but he mostly was focused on/worried about the traffic. He wasn't moving toward the cars, just seemed to be watching them and following them with his eyes. We stood near the car, got some treats for looking calmly, but then traffic picked up, so we moved to an area farther from traffic (though more likely to have pedestrian traffic).

Sometime about then is when I pulled out the camera. You can see West working in a fairly busy mall parking lot below.

He did awesome. What a good boy. I put the camera away, we did a little more work over there, then went back to near the car and played about 5 minutes of LAT with random strange people 4 or 5 cars away. He got close to barking a couple times, but came back to me instead for his treat. Good boy, West!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snow and shirts and food and gentle leaders..

West chowing on some delicious lamb bone while wearing his (borrowed from Gypsy) gentle leader and thundershirt this afternoon.

Snow is yummmmmy.

Yummmmy. (also, walking billboard)

Such a herdy little boy..

Two Collies -a- leaping

Settling down for a rest, look at all those teeeeth.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dum dee doo..

I spent some time playing with the various settings on the camera today, and got about 50 pictures like this:

That's one of my favourites.

I also love this one:

And I have no idea what's going on here...

As usual, many more at
West's Picasas Album

I'm pretty sure we did nothing exciting at all today. I really need to get him and Chris together on video, but it keeps getting dark on me. Maybe tomorrow.. Sigh.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A list of cues..

Trained west for about 20 minutes tonight. Just a note for anyone who might be training their own dog.. I do marathon training sessions with West TO tire him out. I don't expect him to learn new things at the end of the session, and realize that behaviours may deteriorate because of the long sessions. But it keeps him tired and happy.
I put on his GL and thundershirt for the session tonight. He thought about the GL for the first couple minutes, then ignored it completely after that. Good boy. Here's what we worked on:
Eyes - look at me on cue, and maintain eye contact.. got about 5 seconds
roll over - cute trick, and hopefully will evolve into a "flat on your side" behaviour
sit - he's very contextual with this one
down - same here, he's not really sure what down means at all
stand - just started this tonight. coming along nicely. not a kick back, just a lure-forward for pushups
touch - my hand or the end of the stick with his nose
paw - put his paw in my hand. he knows this one.. from sheena, maybe?
shake - body shake. He was doing a few of them (I'm having trouble getting the shirt to fit him nicely. might try washing it) so i started naming it.
leave it - back off food in my hand on cue.

Overall, he did very well. He's tired now, and hopefully ready for a good night's sleep!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

West went on a trip!

Today was West's first car ride since his arrival. We've done about 5 car sessions, 3 with the Santa Fe and a couple (plus some unplanned ones!) with the Sprint. Today, it was so nice out and I figured he could handle it, so we loaded everyone up, then asked him to get in.

Poor guy was kinda freaked out. Too many changes at once: People other than me in the car. Car running. Archie and Gypsy in the car. Expectations.

I just handed him some heart treats, and suggested he follow them into the car. He balked a bit, crawled some, but then leapt inside! Took about 30 seconds to get him in, so not a big struggle at all. Once in, he took some treats, looked around, and did some lip licks and yawning. I opened the windows for him to help with any nausea, and jollied him most of the way there. He was eager to get out when we arrived (about 10km drive to the walking spot) but no worse for wear! No drooling, no serious stress, no vomit!

I took his thundershirt off, and we went for a great walk. Chris got a few photos:

Some are blurry, sorry about that. It was 3pm, so the sun was mostly gone. As usual, way more pics at
West's album on Picasa

I've also added some old ones that were forgotten, so if you haven't checked them out in a while and are addicted to West photos, please go poke around.

So our walk went very well. West mostly chased Gypsy, much to her dismay. Archie did a lot of long distance exploring, and West would rather chase a more intense dog. We saw lots of poop, but no wildlife. We stopped at a bank and tossed sticks down for the dogs to fetch, then headed back to the car.

West leapt in like a pro, then I couldn't find his thundershirt!! We drove back to the parking spot and it wasn't there... Then West moved over on the seat. He'd been sitting on it. Back on with the shirt, no windows open this time, and he relaxed on my lap for most of the trip. He took popcorn from Chris and looked around. Not nearly as stressed (no yawning at all!) and quite tired I expect!

Once home, he did do some strange barking at chris stuff, but I think it was just a combination of the post-car stress, the poor lighting and the unusual treats (popcorn isn't terribly high value to him).

Inside to chew a deer leg and relax for the rest of the evening. Good boy, West!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

I don't celebrate much Christmas-related stuff, but West wanted me to be sure to wish every single one of his readers a VERY happy holidays and merry christmas and Solstice and whatever other celebrations you may partake! Drive carefully, soberly and safely.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lindsay and West meet again!

Lindsay came over today to play with the puppy again. This time, I put his shirt on him, grabbed a handful of half-cooked heart pieces and his sheep-tug and just headed out. He did some initial OMG STRANGER barking. Maybe about 10 barks total. I distracted him with some food, then Lindsay gave him some food. He put his paws up on her (his clear signal of acceptance!) within about 5 minutes, and was fine after that!
He did one nervous reaction about 10 minutes later when Lindsay moved. I'm not sure if she leaned in, or shuffled her foot funny. I didn't see anything weird, but West did. He didn't bark, just jumped back a few inches and looked at her. He was perfectly willing to approach her right away, though, which is fantastic.
He did some tugging on the sheep (teaching him to bite THAT instead of ME!) and rolled around trying to get the shirt off. Hasn't done that before, so maybe I put it on funny or something. I took it off and he was fine. He did some exploring, some begging Lindsay for pets, and some just leaping at me obnoxiously. Overall, was fantastic.
Chris came out and he started to lose his beans, so I put him in his crate. Lindsay came into the motorhome and I let Archie out to greet her. We chatted and played with Archie for about 5 minutes, then I gave him a food toy, covered him up and let West out. West was surprisingly fine, and was soon cuddling on the edge of the bed with us! Great job, puppy!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An impromptu training session leads to a very cool breakthrough

So, as you've seen in a couple of videos, I've been working hard on "peek", a freestyle behaviour where West stands and eventually walks between my legs while focusing on me. This behaviour has a handful of uses:
1. It's proven a miraculous solution for my mom's reactive aussie mix, Gypsy. She feels safe in that position and it's a fun, easy trick. I'm hopeful that will apply to west.
2. West is/was very nervous of being around moving feet, so this was a counter conditioning exercise also.
3. It's a very very safe position for him to be in, where he cannot jump on anyone, bite anyone but me (since my body is physically between him and anything else), or make a nuissance of himself. He's also protected fairly well from strangers reaching at him (again, cause my body is right there) and it's easy for me to operate a gentle leader or to lure him past something scary.

Given all that, I was kind of disappointed when I found I was able to get him into the position and move a bit, but he wasn't taking the initiative on his own unless I made "under my legs" the only possible way for him to get to the treats. Until now..

This evening, I was sitting on the bed and he wanted pets. So I positioned my legs out so he could get between them, used a hand target to get him there and scratched him. A while later, I stood up to put my dinner in the microwave and decided to cut up some treats I have drying in there. As I was cutting, I suddenly felt this dog body on the inside of my leg! He had peeked! On his own! and in a rather awkward, not-easy spot too! Of course, he got a piece of heart for that... And did it again. and again. Progress! :)

What a smart puppy. He's really getting lots of stuff down pat. I need to work a bit more on his mat work now that I brought a mat out here. And when it's warm (this week, I hope), we'll take a trip into town and see how he does with some management and lots of treats around people.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

New toy? Fail.

West chewed up and destroyed the dollar-store chew stick. I really thought it would be hard enough. Apparently not. Oh well, it was cheap! Archie and I went to a Snooker fun match today. Sheela did very well, Archie .. struggled. West stayed home, and enjoyed a romp in the snow when I got back. He quite likes the snow.
He had a kong ball with some pieces of stew meat frozen in it to keep him busy all day. He's really getting good at these food toys. He also has a Waggle that has some kibbles in it that are too big to fall out, and he plays with that a couple times a day. He chews and chews on his antler. That dog loves to chew.
Couple good suggestions for his birthday. I'm partial to a newyears date, as I'm not really into christmas, but I love the reasons for the suggestions so far. I'll decide on something soon!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some questions...

Just trying to get a feel for what is and isn't liked!

Sigh. A busy week..

Seems I've had a few of these lately.

West got a new toy today. I was at the dollar store and they had this cheap looking vinyl rubber stick with a hole down the middle. I'll get you a picture, cause I can't describe it. Anyway, I thought West might enjoy chewing on it. Not sure how it stood up, since I haven't dug it out of the crate to examine yet.

I don't even have any new pictures for you guys. Just some of my random cats. I will do something, soon. Promise.

West's birthday is coming up. We're not sure what day he was actually born, so we need to designate a day. Suggestions welcome on dates that mean something. Bonus points for dates with a geek connection, or specifically tied to west in some way!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another day..

Took a couple pictures while the boys were playing in the snow. The camera battery was acting up, so I didn't get much. Archie has cut the pad on the back of his front leg, and of course yesterday was warm enough to melt the top layer of snow, with a firm freeze last night, so the snow is 'crunchy'. Just crunchy enough to tear open his pad when he goes out. Sigh. I've got some liquid bandage and that helps a lot.

Yesterday both dogs had fish for dinner. Their farts and crates still smell fishy. Yech. They love it though! I also found some moose stew meat in the freezer and spent 20 minutes stuffing various food toys with bits of stew meat, so those are in the freezer for the days I'm at the clinic this week.

Our dog club put on a photos with santa event, to raise money for TDBCR. I'm not sure what the total raised was, but it was a ton of fun. West didn't get to attend.. for obvious reasons.. but here's some of our other guys. My sister's boyfriend was the santa!

I spent some time working with West on a positive CER for the gentle leader again. This one, I won't let him chew up! Silly puppy. Anyway, he's coming along well with it. I should get video of it soon. I still owe you guys a photo of him all decked out in his management gear.

I'm off to teach puppy classes tonight. Only two more classes left and then I'll never see these puppies again!! *sniff* They grow up sooo fast.

I feel like I don't have much to say specifically about "what West did today" type stuff. If you want to hear about something specific in a future post, let me know in a comment and I'll see if I can make it happen!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A little catch up

A few days ago, West was outside when vikki came home unexpectedly. The gate is frozen open so I've been leaving it. He doesn't go far. He was in the yard when she came with archie to return him to what she thought was an escaped yard. She came into the yard, at night, and he barked about 4 times. I called him in and crated him. She came in, I crated Archie, then let him out. He did a little OMG SCARY stuff for about 30 seconds, then I got some cat food and thought to grab the camera:

Also, I won a Turkey Squeeze Meeze from Premier!! I got it in the mail and gave it to west and he loved it. I pulled out the camera, and got basically no interaction with the toy. Silly pup.

The turkey no longer has a left foot, no longer squeaks, and will be destuffed and donated to a less-chewy dog. I also got a tennis tail in the package, which my sister's low drive labradoodle LOVES, so she might try it for agility training. If it's not a hit, arch and west can have it to destroy, maybe.

And as usual, there's a whole slew of photos on West's album. Go browse through the new ones.
I wanted both boys to try one of these cheese chews. I knew archie liked the small one. So I held it so I could get it back from them! Here's west with it. He loved it. They're PRICEY though. Anyone want to mail him a himalayan dog chew, or know of a different brand/supplier, PLEASE let me know! I've got an account and can order from the company, but they're still unbelievably expensive.

Now I'm off to process a bunch more West photos for you guys. Also, I dunno if you've noticed, but I added some ads to the RSS and to the blog page. If this is super annoying, or you see any nasty ads, let me know and I'll decide what I'm going to do about it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Behind again!

So I think I have a bit of a backlog of video and pictures to post, but here's tonight's training session. I will watch it in a bit and decide if he's passed any of level 1. I think his touch is a pass at least.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blah. I'm sick..

I have a cold. West got out for a good run this morning thanks to my mom, and had a good play with gypsy. I slept on the couch, missed my volunteer day at the clinic and felt like junk all day. Boo.
Archie got no such run this morning, and this is his face:

In case you think me cruel, I have added arrows with explanation for the crate which appears 4 sizes too small. Silly dog.
The cat is eating almost-enough on her own now :) At least that's getting better. I'm taking Archie and a handful of others to get a friend to photograph them at a park tomorrow. I'd take west, but I expect I'd never see him again. :) Soon enough, West..
Archie is learning to climb what's left of the snowman. I'm wondering if I could use it for obstacle discrimination. West just flits around like a bee, herding everything that moves. Silly pup.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snow play

This morning we went out for a play in the snow. Lots of pictures on the picasa album. Also some I took last night, inside, which are mostly of things like west's hip, cause he moves too quickly to catch him in a decent pose at close range. The flash on the Nikon sure doesn't make his eyes glow as much.
Here's a video of Archie climbing the snow man.. Then knocking his head off! oops..

Where's West? :)

All I wanted was one photo of Archie on the snowman...

Proof that it isn't always Archie with his tongue out like an idiot

Please stop pointing that stupid eye at me!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

So today...

I arranged to have a camera! So hopefully daily photos/video again! Are we excited?
I also have a cold. darn it.
West and Archie had a great run this morning with Gypsy. Gyp and west played run-fast-chase-me for about 10 minutes.
West ate a meal of turkey in my car! Without really stressing! And jumped in on his own! Why is the old, loud, stinky, nasty car soooo less scary than the new, smooth, quiet SUV with lots of room? No idea. Don't care! :)
West barked at chris a bit this morning. Still lots of work to do there. Once he was obsessing over Archie, he settled quite well.
He still chews most of the day. I ought to try and find some more fun/unique things for him to chew, though he doesn't seem to bore of the same old rubber toys and bone and antlers. Plus his food of course. Chew, chew chew..

And, though I get nothing from promoting it, I've written before about Through a Dog's Ear, a CD I play for the dogs. They're giving away a song a day this week, so go get em!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Settling back in...

Archie and I went to agility practice, while West stayed home. Chris took him out for a walk to the river, so all 3 of us had a good nap when I got home.

After supper, I brought West out for some quality chill time. He was quite frantic, so I put the Shirt on him, which helped. He chewed a bone for about an hour, did some bed cuddling, and settled quite well.

A fairly boring summary of a nice day.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Home again!

Ok, so it's tough to blog about the puppy when I haven't seen him really in a week!
Today, we got a package in the mail. A week or two ago, I entered a contest for some more Premier stuff (have I mentioned how much we all LOVE Premier?) and the box came today. It was to be a Turkey, I suppose due to american Thanksgiving. Sure enough, a rubber turkey, but also a Tennis Tail!! The turkey was dispatched rather quickly by West. He deftly removed the right lateral toes off the poor thing, so he no longer squeaks, and the dogs have access to his fluffy fiberfill middle. Also, his turkey.. neck.. thing.. doesn't extend anymore unless I hold his foot shut to build air pressure :)
I knew the toy wouldn't last long with the collies, so I'm sure not disappointed. They both agree it's still great fun even without half it's foot. Archie has actually been really gentle with it. I'll let him play with it for a few days, then probably either remove the stuffing and give it to the house dogs, or let West destroy the entire thing.

Little Westy also destroyed a bed this week. I expect my lack-of-presence and the extra stress of having Chris around contributed, but I do remember Sheena saying the words "And he never destroys a bed!".. Hah! It's basically ruined, though I might be able to repair it somewhat. The problem is that any bed with a tear or hole becomes Archie's favourite thing ever to eat. Sigh. Maybe he needs one of these? Heh. Live and dream. The bed he ripped was one of these and despite the awful website, I've overall been thrilled with them. We have two. We also have a couple kennel mats from Premier, which are, I think, still all in one piece and stood up great. They're super easy to wash too. I love them most.

So for the moment, until I find something either perishable or tough, West hasn't got a bed. He doesn't seem to mind. It's plenty warm in here. Maybe I'll go to Value Village and get him a couple cheap comforters or something that he can just destroy and nap on. Ideas welcome.

I got some (very low quality) video of West playing with the turkey before he ate it. I will edit it and put it up sometime soon. As soon as I put the camera on, he of course drops the toy and just stares at me. Silly boy. He had fun today leaping on the human-esque snow man outside, and chasing Archie as usual. He's pretty high stress, so I'll be doing a few things over the next few days to try and help him settle. I think he missed a few days of his L-Theanine, and his DAP collar has run out, so I'm going to try attaching the other half of the collar (the one i froze last month) to his martingale and also get him wearing his Thundershirt again. Hopefully he can relax in a few days :)

Archie is sound asleep next to me on the (QUEEN SIZE! WOOT!) bed with all four feet crossed like he's running after a bunny. Both boys need nail trims. I think I'll do Archie's now.