A Short Update and on to Other Things

The dogs are all cough free and have been since Friday morning. Our vet had a long discussion with us this morning and he is of the very strong opinion that a dog is no more or less contagious in 7 days than they will be tomorrow, and that he can see no medical reason why the dogs shouldn’t go to the Championships next weekend. As it is an airborne disease there is also no reason why it should be more likely to transfer via tennis balls etc, and as our dogs are extremely fit and healthy he thinks they will cope with the exercise fine. He even said he would have been happy to vaccinate our dogs on Monday but he advised we leave it until after any major events as it can cause the dog to start coughing again.

I am uneasy about this decision for various reasons, so this is a short update on the Kennel Cough front. I understand the make-up of Kennel Cough and how it is spread and I also understand why the vaccines are now so much more efficient (I asked, I’m a geek! I used to be good at science y’know), but there has been this constantly repeated “7-days” thing from dog owners that it feels like it must be right. Our vet is telling us it’s wrong, and I do trust our vet, so I’m still being pulled in 2 different directions.

The dogs had an awesome long walk today in the rain, and then we played at tricks again. Kim brushed up on all her old skills, and then we did fetch-the-post which we haven’t done in years because I’d forgotten I’d taught it her. She really enjoyed that one, I left “the post” (an old IKEA instruction booklet) in the other room so she got to run around a bit. She’s surprisingly gentle with “post”! Mollie isn’t, we tried with her and she attempted to rip “the post” into tiny shreds, so we gave up. Dylan is scared of “the post” because it flaps around when he tries to pick it up and he doesn’t like it.

Instead, Dylan and I worked on his obedience. I’m not an obedience person and I only know very vaguely how to teach him all the proper competitive stuff, so it’s a bit hit and miss. He has a lovely close heel position at a sit but as soon as we set off it all falls apart. We’re working on it! We also have some issues with stand, as apparently I’ve accidentally taught him that stand means ‘stand in front of me’ so we can’t do that at a distance. Oops!

Kennel Cough continued

Ok, I’ve lost track of the days now. It feels like it’s been forever!

The dogs are going stir crazy as it’s nearly impossible to take them for long walks where we won’t bump into anyone. They’ve been going out at about 9:30 to try and avoid other dogs but it’s very hard! I’ll cautiously say that the coughing seems to be fading now, they finally had a good run on Sunday night which was flat out chasing so should really have opened their lungs and no coughing afterwards which must be a good sign. No coughing after barking or playing now either from Mollie or Dylan, and just little “peffs” from Kim.

Fingers crossed we can make the British Champs, we desperately need them to stop by Thursday at the latest otherwise we’ll have to pull, it’s not fair risking so many other dogs from all over the country.

Dylan and I worked through his trick repertoire today, he really makes me laugh with his mad enthusiasm. I like working with Kim on tricks because she’s so smart, but she’s always working for the reward, not because she really just loves working with me or doing tricks. Dylan is the opposite, the reward is nice but he really just enjoys working with me and doing something. I guess that’s the mythical “drive” everyone keeps talking about!

He’s really not that bright though. I held the honey-spoon out for him to lick after making the dogs some throat-soothing mixture, and it took me quite a while to convince him that yes, he had licked one side clean but there was another side to lick as well. Not sure whether that’s a collie thing, a male thing or just a Dylan thing though!

Trick Training with Props!

We have some new toys!

Ex-sports equipment is a lot of fun for me and the hounds. Both are foam-padded with a tough outer, and have been acquistioned from the old storeroom. They weren’t being used to their full potential!

Kim has been learning to walk backwards up the stairs, which has taken her longer than you might think. She has a decent amount of back end awareness and I know she understands what I want her to do, but she can’t really see the point. She just thinks it’s easier all around if she just walks up front-ways. It is adorable when she does occasionally get frustrated with me though and starts offering every other behaviour she can think of, which I think I resist quite well! For a dog who only started working with the clicker this year, she’s really taken to it. She is a seriously smart cookie, I can only imagine how smart she could tell me she is if we’d been working with the clicker from puppyhood.

Dylan, on the other hand, is a very good and loyal little mummy’s boy and always does what he’s told. Either that or he doesn’t have the brains to think of other solutions! But he picked up the walking backwards upstairs in about five seconds, so we moved on to teaching him a handstand … kind of. http://fjoiris.livejournal.com/ has been teaching her Whippet Boing! to do a handstand, but I think Dylan is probably a bit heavy to pull this off completely. At the moment his back feet are still resting on the highest step, but the balance is coming and his front end is getting stronger, which is really what I was aiming for. His 2o2o in agility is lovely, but it won’t harm him to have a bit more front-end balance and muscle for when we finally get that creepy-contact thing out of the way.

The big ramp I’m just using to practise balancing on at the moment, because I can’t think of anything else to do with it right now! It is fairly hard for me to balance on with one foot. Kim and Dylan can hold their begs pretty well now, apparently they can balance a lot better than I can.

Dylan worked really well at agility last night, probably the best session we’ve had. He can be a lot faster than Kim and is always a lot more responsive, but he does prefer the big open courses where he can stretch out and actually jump extended. Still a lot of work to do on speeding up his contacts but we tried a stride regulator for the first time which did improve things once we’d worked out the best place to put it. I still don’t think he’s going to be fast enough to get out of Grade 3 but I think we should do well enough to put an Agility Warrant on him. As for BAA, we’ll have to see how it goes next week at EMDAC!

Trick Training – Crawl

Ruffdogs (http://www.ruffdogs.co.uk/) have a “Trick of the Month” where a challenge is set and everyone can give it a go and swap training advice etc. This month it’s “crawl”; getting the dogs to crawl on their bellies commando-style. Kim can do this independently but it’s not something I’ve worked on with Dylan before, so we’ve given it a go!

Helen asked for a video so I obliged! Here is Dylan learning to crawl on the golf course. This is only the second time we’ve really done this, and on grass rather than carpet. We did a couple more after this and he was working a bit more independently but then we were bombarded with golf balls and had to make a quick exit!

http://www.undermybed.co.uk/images/dylcrawl.wmv (should open in Windows Media Player or equivalent).

And just because I’ve been wanting to practise going straight from “beg” into “down”, we also did a bit of that before we started. For some reason the sound cuts out mid-way, I don’t know why. All you can hear is Dyl barking anyway!

http://www.undermybed.co.uk/images/dylan02.wmv

Finally, here’s what happened when I turned my back to adjust the camera. I took the sound off this one because I whistled right next to the microphone – hence why Dyl sat up so abruptly!

http://www.undermybed.co.uk/images/dylan03.wmv

He’s such a puppy sometimes. Yesterday he managed to get a stick stuck around his neck somehow and it looked like he had antlers, he was dancing around for ages … now that would have been a good video!

Trick Training

Not much to say today, so I’ve also included the photo of Mollie doing her over-the-horizon look. As with all the photos on the blog, click for a bigger version. Mollie

Dylan has been doing his bits of boxwork, it’s going reasonably well. We work for about 10 minutes a day, and then of course Kim and Mollie have to have a go because it’s a flyball box and it’s exciting. Kim does her lovely turn with no problems, but she’s not thrilled about the idea of doing it without a ball in the box. Mollie surprised me by being wildly enthusiastic and knocking the cone flying, but also doing a cracking turn with her bum right up on the box! Shame she won’t do that when the ball is there though!

Kim and Dylan have also been working on their “sad face” trick – covering the nose with a paw. Kim has almost got it, she sometimes needs remining and (weirdly?!) sometimes confuses it with “dead”. I think it’s the paw movement, she tucks her elbow in the same way when she’s going into her “dead” position.

Dylan has mastered “dead”, actually, after 20 months! “SadFace” isn’t going so well, I’ve been using the tape-on-the-nose method and Dylan doesn’t see the problem with having tape on his nose, so he just sits happily. Silly boy!

Dylan's Blog

We haven’t really been working on anything new this month, just improving what we already have. Lefts and rights are nailed, and target training is going really well. Plus all the basic obedience seems to have kicked off – finally! – too. His heelwork is getting nice, presents and finishes are good, and his stays are really improving too. He’s kind of got “dead” too, although my Dyl boy always looks suspiciously alive when he does it, usually because his tail is wagging.

I have to say I’m really pleased because he’s learnt “catch” too. You wouldn’t believe how long this has taken to teach him – for some reason he couldn’t grasp the concept of having to move his head and open his mouth to catch something thrown at him. Toys and treats just bounced off his head! He’s got it now though. I don’t think I’ll be doing Crufts flyball with him in the future, but if I do, this is a great command for him. I’m using the same technique I used for teaching Kim to catch, and Kim is amazing at catching. Dylan is first put into a down, and then he get’s the command “catch”, which actually means prepare to catch. Kim demonstrates this best when she effectively goes into a play-bow, which is ideal for Crufts flyball. Dylan is beginning to do it, which I’m really chuffed with. And then I throw the ball/treat/whatever. It’s such a silly small thing, but it’s an achievement for him!