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Archive for the ‘beagle’ Category

So now that we’ve acknowledged I have dreams and not goals, it’s time to set goals.  I created my checklist on Sunday with very generic goals.

Labrador

  • Cookie Jar Games
  • Agility
  • Misc

Golden

  • Scent Work
  • Recallers
  • Misc

Beagle

  • Wobble Board
  • Chin
  • Misc

The Misc is to accommodate my own “squirrel” factor in my training.  For example as I’m writing this it’s thunder-storming.  If that continues there will be no agility training tonight, so misc gives me a chance to pick something else to work on and give myself a reinforcing check mark!

But let’s be honest.  These are not goals.  So let’s break this down and make goals!  Have you heard of SMART goals?  The idea is to make goals that are:

  • Specific.
  • Measurable.
  • Attainable.
  • Relevant.
  • Time Bound.

So let’s see how I can take my checklist and make it SMART!

  1. I want to train with my dogs at least five days this week.

Let’s see.  It’s fairly specific.  I could get more specific stating what I want to train, but let’s leave that for right now.  Measurable?  Well if I train for five days this week, that’s measurable and I’ll have succeeded!  Attainable?  Yup, I’ve got seven days in a week.  I should be able to manage five of them!  Relevant?  Goals should be relevant to the direction you want your life and career to take, so since I want to move forward in my training with my dogs I’d say it’s relevant!  And time bound I’ve got it for this week!  Look I made a goal!

But I need to break down the items on my checklist.  I have “agility.”  How incredibly vague.  So, since this Saturday I plan to be doing a Touch N Go run with the Labrador let’s make this a very relevant SMART Goal!

  • This week every day it’s not raining when I’m home, I will work contacts with the Labrador.

Specific?  I think so.  Working contacts.  Measurable?  Yup.  Attainable?  Definitely.  Relevant and Time Bound are both there.  So I think this is a good goal.

But I’m setting goals by time here.  Some goals need to be set by outcome.  For this I’m thinking of the Golden and scent work.

  • By the end of this week I want us to be using five containers and three distractions with him being successful on 100% of the searches.

I think I like this goal type better in a way.  It meets the SMART criteria, but also has an result involved.  From here I can break my training plan down more.

  • Tonight I will use three containers and one distraction.  If he’s successful 90% of the time, we’ll move to four containers and two distractions.

This type of goal will need more evaluation along the way, but helps one reach an end result rather than just marking off time training.  Is it attainable?  Well, I’m not 100% sure, which is why it will need more evaluation along the way.  With this perhaps I need an overall goal.  Like by the end of August I want him searching a pile of 10 objects with six containers and six distraction objects.  But then I have to think back to my “dream” goals again.  Why did I start teaching this – for the Fenzi Team title.  And for that he only needs three objects.  So the overall goal is the Fenzi Team 1 Title.  I need to keep that in mind when I set my goals for next week, because at some point I need to move on to the other exercises.

But I’m learning to set goals.  I’m trying to take the dreams and make them obtainable.

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Happy New Year!

I’ll be ringing in the new year home, with my husband and the three dogs.  Perfect way, in my opinion, to ring in the new year.  While there are lots of people posting about their new year resolutions I wanted to take a minute and look back over this last year.  Sometimes I don’t feel I’ve accomplished enough.  I’m not a good enough trainer.  I’m not progressing fast enough.  I left a training session frustrated today.  Part of the frustration is due to me trying to figure out my training philosophy – where my lines are.  There has been a lot on Facebook these last two days about training methodologies and labels — pure positive, balanced, force-free, “Have to” vs “Want to” — and I’ll be honest I haven’t read much of it, but what I do know is I have to figure out what is right for me and my dogs, and I’m having some difficulty with that.  Hopefully I’ll find more answers in the new year.  For the moment I’m just glad to be sitting here at home with the pups.

I know I want to stop comparing myself to other people.  I want to be able to appreciate and celebrate their accomplishments, while not feeling like I’m not keeping up.  I need to remind myself that that we don’t travel for trials, and yet the Labrador and I earned five new agility titles this year!  Considering I was someone who knew nothing about competition until the Labrador came into my life four years ago, that’s not too bad.

The Beagle earned her Novice Trick Dog title this year!  This was a lot of fun.  She loved getting to train!  And the Golden earned two legs of his Rally Novice title.  I should probably stop telling this story, but the second leg when the judge told me I qualified I replied with, “Really?  Are you sure?”  Probably not the best thing to blurt out to the judge!!

We’ve done a lot this year.  Maybe not by some people’s standards, but I’ll take it.  I’ve learned a lot this year.  Played a lot of games with my dogs.  And as frustrated as I may get I am enjoying the journey.  What more can I ask for?

Happy New Year!

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We have great plans for this year! But for right now — here are pictures of the kids!

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Ever since we lost our last beagle, about two and a half years ago I started questioning veterinarians.  He was clearly sick.  The first words out of the vet’s mouth when she saw him was, “He has Lyme Disease.”  But then the SNAP test came back negative.  So she decided he must have ruptured a disc in his spine, and recommended crate rest and drugs.  I recall asking about x-rays, but was discouraged as the vet said it might not show up, the symptoms were all pointing to it and he was a beagle, who are prone to IVDD.

Two and a half years ago, I was not a good enough advocate for my dog.  Ten days later he was still clearly in pain, the medication was not causing an improvement.  I called back and asked more questions about Lyme Disease, only then when I directly asked was I told that false negatives on Lyme tests were “common.”  I asked if there was another test and again was discouraged from doing this by being told it would be several hundred dollars to run it.  The impression I was left with was that it was extremely costly, not worth it since they’d already “diagnosed” him and that they weren’t really interested in doing it.  But I knew my dog wasn’t getting better, so this time I followed up with another question.  I asked what the treatment for Lyme was, and if it would harm my dog if we put him on it.  Only three days later he was doing much better.  A few months later we lost him, and looking back I feel perhaps I still wasn’t being the best advocate for my dog I should have been, but I starting to learn.

So now I try to be a better advocate for my dog.  I research and read.  I have notebooks filled with information I’ve learned, and definitions for things I never studied having just a B.S. in English.  I study and talk with other dog owners, breeders and vets.  Things I took for granted years ago, now I know better (like the idea that you “must” vaccinate annually).  And I’m using that information to be a better partner in my dogs’ care.  Because of me and my pushing, my vet has now agreed to titer testing.  I’m helping educate him as I educate myself.  The other day when our first titer results came in his first words to me were “I’m going to give you a lot more information than I would another patient.”  I smiled. He knows I have questions, that I’m wanting to learn and do the best I can for my dogs with the information I have now.  He knows I won’t blindly follow his recommends, and takes the time to explain them.  Sometimes I’m amazed he puts up with me, other times I think he enjoys the challenge.

My blind faith in their recommendations is gone.  I now ask why.  I now work to understand, so that I’m not just taking someone else’s word for the fact that this is best for my dog.  Because I’m the only voice that dog has.

On the other hand, as I struggled through the research, and emails and phone calls with my vet, as I challenged his protocols and fought for what I feel is best for my dogs, my husband says to me, “Well, I’m sure you know what’s best.”

That kind of blind faith is overwhelming.  I can only hope that he’s right.  I have so much more to learn.

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Well since a few posts were delayed, I figured I’d make this one a day early. We’ve had a lot of fun today working on wait, leave it and starting weaving between legs. We also started working on roll over. This week is one of my busiest at work, but we still managed a few trips to new places including the Farmer’s Market and Downtown as students were returning.

We’re still working on loose leashing walking. I’m reminding myself that my trainer told me it could take ua year when I started with the Labrador. And even with the Labrador who is two we aren’t perfect. I am trying to be more consistent with both of them. We’ve added a new game to it, putting a treat on the ground and walking to it. If the leash stays loose, he gets the treat. If it doesn’t there are penalty yards! And we try again.

The Golden is also learning to catch. We are using dog cheese puffs for this. Something light and airy. If he doesn’t catch the treat, he doesn’t get the treat (well that’s the idea — sometimes he’s faster than I am!). Currently he has about a 90% success rate. Cheese tossing will come soon!

This weekend his sister (another litter) earned her RA. The weekend before she earned her RN and CD. His brother earned two legs of his RN. My little guy has big shoes to follow, but I know we’ll get there. I signed up for a Performance Puppy class that will start in October that I’m really looking forward to (and a Novice Competition class for the Labrador).

The coming months we have a lot going on. The Labrador is going to be competing in about 21 days. We have a Show N Go next weekend, and the Golden will be coming to experience his first show like conditions. Currently the Labrador has an Agility class, and then in October she’ll have Novice Obedience and Rally, while the puppy will be in Performance Puppy class. New classes, with new trainers. So much more to learn. And the Beagle just laughs at them both as she snarfs up the treats just for being cute!

Here’s the puppy practicing his sit/stay and leave it today. Ignore the junk in the background 😉

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What a week. The weather has been all over the place, with rain and storms that triggered a migraine that lasted several days. Even with the migraine we still managed to train though. What can I say? Priorities!

As I mentioned at the end of my last post, we went to Tractor Supply. While there it started raining so hard you couldn’t see across the parking lot. So, what’s a girl with a puppy to do? Train of course! We practiced our sits and downs, and comes, and then did our very first retrieves some place other than home. The Golden picked out a toy while walking through the aisles, so we played with that in a store with lots of distractions. He did fantastic, always bringing the toy back to me for which he received lots of praise.

Other places we visited this week:

  1. Vet’s office for some training in the lobby to show him that it can be fun to go to the Vet! We also weighted while there – the Golden is now 22.2 lbs!
  2. Class (of course)
  3. Local Pet Supply store (not new, but any exposure is good!)
  4. Lowes (a different Lowes so I count this as new)
  5. Three different parks (one new)
  6. Car wash (new)

We’ve been working more on loose leash walking, and he’s getting better without distractions. Distractions are still hard, so we’ll keep working on it. Stays are improving. In fact today at the park I managed several steps away while he held his position. Such a good puppy!

Shake has been achieved! I kept working on it, and finally he’s doing it! Actually his very first time with a paw lift was even while we were at the local pet supply store! Fantastic! We’ve now gotten shake just about everywhere. We should be good for Puppy Class graduation where a trick is displayed!

The other milestone this week is he rang his bell! Every time we take him out to use the bathroom we make him ring a bell. So far it’s been us pointing to the bell until he touches it, then taking him out. The other day I had the gate up so he was in the kitchen with me while I was making dinner. I heard the bell ring. It actually took a moment to register in my brain what I was hearing and what that meant I should do! Sometimes you wonder who is training who. But after a second I raced over and opened the back door. The Golden raced out, peed and came running back in. So very proud of my boy!

Then there are times when you pretend to be proud, when you really don’t feel it. On one of our walks this week in the woods, he comes prancing up to me with a bone in his mouth, attached to a joint. He was so very proud of his find! I smiled, and told him what a good boy he was as I traded it for a treat and managed to kick the bone off deeper into the woods all the while fighting down my ick reaction. Lovely puppy found me a nice, dead thing. Wasn’t that sweet of him? He certainly thought so!

And this week I finally got a family photo! Here are the Beagle, Labrador and Golden!

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The Golden is 11 weeks old today and growing like a weed. His sits, downs and stands are gaining in duration where 10 seconds is not unreasonable to ask. We’ve upped our work on “come” and his name trying to make sure he knows what he name is. He did very well with attention and his name on our last walk. Sometime we play with heeling, circle, and spin.

We’ve been working more with the dremel (I got all his toes done yesterday!), and the blowdryer. For the blowdryer we’re working up his body, practicing mostly while he eats. He’s been sitting on his balance disc and we started checking out the FitPaws peanut, just putting our front legs on it for treats.

This week we also discovered mud! Mud is a great deal of fun, but it led us to our first bath, which wasn’t as much fun. After that we went to the Fourth of July festival mentioned in the earlier post where we met lots of children, men in uniform and a working dog.

A scheduled play date went well, and it was interesting to watch how differently my puppy responded to two different dogs. One dog was very confident and sure of himself, which made the Golden act very deferential. The other dog wasn’t as confident, which changed the dynamic so that the Golden acted more demanding (play with me!). The non-confident dog was never sure of the situation, clearly appearing conflicted, play bowing once, wanting to sniff, but then not liking the puppy pounces. We walked them together for a bit, but never let them off leash to play.

This week was also his first swim! He’s been in the puppy pool, but that’s not deep enough to swim. And we went to the lake one day, but he didn’t go in past where he could stand. Finally on Saturday he ventured out, clearly swimming!!

It’s been raining all afternoon. Luckily we got our walks and training done in the morning, so we’ve spent the afternoon with the Labrador on my left, Golden on my lap (I’m going to miss him being this little!) and the Beagle curled up on a blanket on the big couch. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon!

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