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Sunday, September 26, 2010

R trains and K rests

R and I continued our training program, designed to curb his obsessive behaviors, yesterday. One part is that I am teaching him some agility. Prior to now, K has been the only agility dog in the family because we worried that agility would be too tough on R's surgically repaired elbow. However, the vet suggested which parts of agility would be gentle enough for R's elbow and that learning agility might be a mentally stimulating activity for him that would help him to be less obsessive about other things, like water drinking.

We started with the teeter-totter last evening, using the method that I read about in Susan Garrett's book and which worked beautifully for K after traditional methods failed miserably with her. I propped both ends of the teeter totter so that it was almost level and tipped by only about 6" when R crossed the fulcrum. He looked cautious as he started.
But he stayed on the teeter-totter even when it tipped, waiting for treats at the end.
In the background of R's teeter-totter photo, you can see the weave poles, left akimbo after K's last run through them. She's an artful weaver, and I tried to video her on a recent run. Alas, the video was terrible so I can't show you how graceful she'd become. I hope that K is capable of weaving in the spring. Believe it or not, my agility course completely disappears under the snow in the wintertime!

I'm now using the weave poles to teach R to weave but I'll never let him run full tilt through the weaves. I think it would be too stressful for his elbow. However, the process of teaching R how to weave will be fun for him and me.

It's interesting teaching R the same skills as I've worked on for years with K. R's learning style suits my personality perfectly. He's almost never worried, nervous, or scared so it's OK to ask him to do scary things. He remains enthusiastic even if he fails repeatedly (although I try not to let that happen). He feels bomb-proof compared to K.

By comparison, K emotionally quits on me if she "fails" or is scared more than once in a training session. She taught me not to push her too hard in any kind of training. Each dog is a unique soul, and it's best to recognize their special traits.

Yesterday evening, R and I walked up to our sunset lookout point after training. For most of the walk, I played a game where I gave him a treat every time he initiated eye contact with me while we walked. The boy is a fast learner! His eyes were almost glued to mine by the end of the walk!

We paused briefly with the mountain horizon in the background.
Of course, all of this attention for R is NOT easy for K to handle. It's terrible timing that I need to start this new program with R just when K is recovering from surgery. Her activity will be limited to "business only" walks for 6-8 weeks. I'm working hard on thinking of training games that I can play with K that don't involve any standing or walking. Does anyone have ideas for me? I'd be very grateful for ideas.

This morning, K and I took one of our "business" walks, and lingered in the sunshine. She looked at me imploringly as if to say "Can't we explore, just a tiny bit?".
Look, she said, I stepped off the trail, and I'm fine. Let's go explore in this aspen grove.
I resisted K's imploring gazes even though I felt terribly mean. Despite that, K still posed nicely for me in the aspens.
My beautiful girl... it's so hard not being able to explain to you why I'm keeping you so quiet, especially since you're used to a life of adventure.
This morning, R took only a very short run with the Runner so he joined me for a brief jaunt on the bike. I think that he was ready for a nap rather than a bike ride. When we arrived at Hug Hill, he rested his muzzle on my back tire and seemed to fall asleep while standing in the sun.
He didn't stir even as I angled for a better photo.
He perked up briefly for a few photos. He achieved his first full pose atop the stump on Hug Hill. He's jealously watched K do this trick for a year and today he suddenly had the impetus to hop on the stump.
He sampled the breeze for animal scents, seemed briefly excited, but then settled down again.
Once again, he seemed to fall asleep in the sun. This boy needed some snooze time! We went straight home so he could catch up on his "handsome sleep".
After I dropped off R at home and continued my ride, I ran into some neighbors whose two dogs have been missing for more than 24 hours so I spent the rest of my ride watching for signs of them. It's especially concerning because I know from my trail camera that a mountain lion was recently in the area. I fervently hope that the roaming dogs didn't find a carcass that the lion was protecting...

Aside from the distressing absence of signs of the lost dogs, I enjoyed the unseasonably warm, sunny, and gorgeous autumn day. Riding through some aspen groves was like entering a kaleidoscope of green and yellow speckles. I kept wishing that K could gallop along by my side. She would have loved it and I would have reveled in being with her.


  1. So many people mistakenly believe that dogs of a certain breed will act the same. Your two, just like our two have very different personalities and learning styles.

    Wonderful set of photographs. So revealing of the different temperaments of your two wonderful dogs.

  2. I know the look of those eyes so well. Mr. Phantom just stares and stares at me pleading for some tasty biscuits, laying the guilt trip on me for refusing when he hasn't eaten his dinner. Those eyes speak volumes, don't they?

    Absolutely stunning pics of the pups.

  3. What great pics!

    I love the sunset one with R -

    AND K's pleading eyes...

  4. I LOVE those pictures of R asleep on the bike tire! What a hambone!

    Of course, Miss K is as lovely as ever in the sunshine!

    Would some scent games work with K? Like hiding things under boxes to see if she could guess which one had it. Maybe you could take her for a ride in the car somewhere, too. I'm guessing she wouldn't have to use her leg much to go for a ride. There are some great puzzle toys out, too, but I'm guessing you're looking more for things to do with her instead of just let her entertain herself.

  5. I can tell R likes being King of the mountain (Hug Hill!) Poor K - my heart goes out to her. Hope she heals quickly. All that new learning is tiring R out - those pics are so funny!

  6. Kia ora KB,
    Wow, every time I come here there is so much hppening. My thoughts go out to you and K and my best wishes for fast healing. Kia kaha K!

  7. Heres hoping the lost dogs come home safe and sound!

    Great shots captured there! I like the silhouette of R. Sounds like hes doing great at agility! I would really like to try that one day with Koda.

    Poor K, business walks are never enough for a dog that enjoys their daily adventures, hopefully the next few weeks speed by.


  8. R's close-up with his head on your tire and pearly whites flashing in one of the funniest/greatest dog pictures I've seen! Goofy R makes me smile again =)

    Hang in there, K...

    Hmmm, about object discrimination games. You could teach K the names of different objects, then ask her to pick up/touch a specific one out of a lineup.

    Maybe teaching her to put toys away in a basket. It seems like you could set this one up so she wouldn't have to walk or even stand much. (Or maybe stuff items in a backpack. Could be handy down the road for hiking trips).

    Does she know how to crawl? =)

    I'll send more ideas your way if I think of more.

  9. I feel so sorry for K, but time will pass quickly and she'll be out and about again. Love the picture of her looking directly at you ... she's such a sweetie! R just made me smile and laugh, doing his training and falling asleep. Goodness sakes! Beautiful fall colors and nice poses from R.

  10. Way to learn, R. And patience, dear K, patience.

    Best wishes for the two lost canine souls.

  11. Maybe that muzzle feels heavy to R, and he just needed to rest. :o) That's a sweet photo.

    I wonder if you could use K's down time to teach her tricks like:
    - Covering her nose with her good paw
    - Flopping onto her side on cue
    - Other facial tricks like batting her eyelashes or licking her lips on cue

  12. K did look a little pensive and disappointed, but very sweet. R was funny, almost falling asleep on his feet.

  13. seated training games? well, i keep trying to work on Loki's paw holding. he hates his paws touched so that's something i work on inside. you could teach her to shake her head yes or no i suppose. or how aobut how to use her nose to find something specific in one of your hands? guessing games? i'm stretching here now. i think there are lots of mind puzzles for dogs, but i've never bought one and they seem to be short lived in my opinion. if i think of any real laying down games, i'll let you know.


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