Monday, July 30, 2012

Pet Poodle

Since Rugby has proven himself as superior in the dog training department, we gave him his very first dog to train. Rugby spent the first day teaching Shadow, the Toy Poodle, how to walk on a leash.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Soft Mouth

Our trainer issued a challenge to one of our classmates and his Newfoundland, to demonstrate that his dog had been taught to have a soft mouth. After his demonstration of Leo retrieving a small log last week, it was very entertaining to watch him successfully retrieve a raw egg this week. The egg was perfectly concealed in his mouth until the 'give' command was given and out popped an entire, un-cracked egg.

Rugby couldn't be left out, so I grabbed one of their extra eggs just to see if it would fit in his mouth. When it did, we moved out onto the floor and tried the following sequence with him. You can see the egg fall out of his mouth the first time he tried to pick it up in the video. Lucky he didn't break it! 

I already knew that Rugby had a soft mouth. This just confirms that he is willing to do seemingly pointless and ridiculous things for me... and have fun doing it. What a nice dog! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lip Licking


The sacrifices of getting a decent posed photo of the dogs is a little lip licking. I keep replacement squeakers for squeaky toys in my camera bag to grab the dogs' attention, but today I was using a small treat. Luckily, the sacrifice is not that big and there are plenty of tongueless pictures to choose from. Sanity and Rugby agree that it was worth every bit of the suspense, and they didn't mind my tongue pictures at all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

An Award


We were given an award by our friend Vertigo, an Australian Cattle Dog with a sense of humor, who competes in the Obedience ring and has fun with his housemate, Cookie. It took us a long time to figure out who we wanted to pass the award on to since there are so many worthy blogs, but we finally narrowed it down to just five. It was hard to tell about the whole less than 200 readers bit... here they are anyways.

The rules... 
1. Thank the giver(s) and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
That would be Mr. Vertigo himself. Thank you very much! 

2. Reveal your five picks (with less than 200 readers) and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.  

Amstaffs in the Garden We have a short supply of Amstaffs where we train, thanks to breed specific legislation. It is so nice to be able to follow along with some very nice looking dogs, and even better that they are active in dog sports too! 

Life with Joey No list is complete without a Maltese on it, and Noa and Joey are more than worthy of the award. This little Maltese does it all, Tracking, Agility and Obedience. They just had a very successful debut in the novice ring too, so go over and congratulate them! 

The dogs are really in charge More blog dogs that compete in agility and obedience. Right now I am really enjoying watching videos of that too-cute-to-be-real bear cub she is training. 

The (mis)adventures of Sherpa T. Dog You are all familiar with Sherpa by now. That is her blog tacking her training and progress. The thing that makes Sherpa's blog extra cool is Rugby's occasional appearance. 

2 Brown Dawgs Blog A blog about three Chessies and their life and training as field dogs. I didn't know much about field work before I found this blog, and it has been fun following along and learning what it is all about. Not to mention you get to watch all three dogs have a blast doing what they were bred to do. 

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Towel Boy

I tried teaching Rugby to pull my towel off the towel rack to bring to me. We got as far as him standing on the wall and grabbing it. Then he was stuck. Rugby is such a gentleman that he could not possible use the force necessary to pull the towel from the rack.

He stood for a long while holding the towel in his mouth, half covering his face wagging his tail wildly as I encouraged him to pull. Tail wags don't pull towels though, so we had to try a different approach. 


This morning we back up a few steps, and worked on just retrieving the towel off of the ground. Even the weight of dragging the towel was hard for Rugby, not to mention the fact that it took some time to figure out he could not retrieve the towel if he was standing on it.


He has a great sense of humor and was pleased with the joke I was playing on him, so he kept trying until he figured out where to put his feet. Even with success, I think this task is too hard for him just yet. We will go back even further and start with a hand towel, then build up from there. He will be a towel boy soon enough.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Raw Struggle

aDSC_0033Rugby is fed a raw diet. He has been fed this diet since he was 6 months old. He will continue to eat a raw diet for as long as I am willing to prepare it. I like the teeth cleaning effects of his chewing, the increased coat growth, good smelling breath and smaller excrement size. I like that I have complete control over what he does and does not eat. I like that when I put down a bowl of food for Rugby, all the ingredients are identifiable, whole and of a quality that I approve of.

There is a down side to the diet too though. Remembering to take food out of the freezer, cleaning pans and dishes constantly and for the extra bloody meals, cleaning Rugby's face off too. It is an inconvenience. I completely understand why people feed kibble, and for the average dog, high quality kibble will give you some of these same effects. While kibble is much more convenient, it is in no way safer than raw food. Check out Tom Lonsdale's book, Raw Meaty Bones, or the extensive dog food recall list for proof.

I was informed by that the AVMA will be voting on a new policy concerning raw feeding next month. You can read the policy HERE. They don't want people feeding raw. Their logic seems a bit off, but I do understand that naturally fed dogs require less vet work (so less $$ spent, and less $$ earned by vets) and I understand that they face huge pressure from the pet food industry to support the product that they sell.

The AVMA has tried to console my fellow raw feeders with the fact that the new policy is just that - a policy, not capable of changing your dog's diet and not a law that will be enforced. I get that. However, as dog professionals, they are a source that legislators and animal control officers look for guidance. This policy is an open door for raw fed dogs being seized from their homes on the grounds that they are not being fed proper food. It won't be an immediate result, but it is a very real possibility.

My question to the AVMA is this. If they aid in the destruction of our rights to keep and raise dogs, how will they make a living when the animal rights people succeed?

This is the first step on a dangerous road. If this policy is approved, it won't be much longer until I will have to hide my dog's diet from insurance companies, therapy dog organizations, my veterinarian, animal control and the general public. If you have a moment, visit the AVMA site and post your comments on their proposed policy. I hope they can be convinced to vote no.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Great Leap


He did it. Rugby took the giant leap off of the life raft and into the pool today. No leash necessary to get him swimming this time, but it did take lots of coaxing and me stranding him on the raft in the middle of the pool to make it happen.  Some little part of Rugby wants to be a water dog. I am sure of it.

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After he had mastered his pool entry from the raft, I asked him to swim to me from the steps in the pool. He was tempted to just leave all together but came to me every time I asked! With his polished swimming skills, he won't be needing any more rescue missions in the near future! Don't worry Sherpa, we still need you for other things, like being Rugby's personal taxi service

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The First Week

It has been fun watching Rugby explore the basics of agility this week. Our current go-to agility book had a list of sequences that we have made our way through while we build/find/buy agility equipment. It is safe to say that Rugby is enjoying the sport. 

As the week went on, it took Rugby less and less time to warm up and start running through sequences. Interestingly enough, he also started to make more mistakes as the week went on.  This was due entirely to the fact that he was anticipating my commands. After two days of work he is back to waiting for my direction. So far, this has been our only challenge.

We found parts of weave poles at Applewoods and used those to get started with the 2x2 method. Today we finally made it to the hardware store and built a full set of weave poles (with some help, of course)!

Since we are novice weave pole builders, assembly took longer than expected and a training break was needed. The video below shows Rugby on day three of his weave training.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Office Dogs

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Watch your step if you are visiting Applewoods. You wouldn't want to trip on any of our hard working staff.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Good Deed


I used Rugby as bait to catch this little dog we found wandering loose by our house. Rugby's shoes string leash turned very quickly into a kennel noose, and the curious mixed breed dog practically caught himself.

I am amazed at how Rugby handled this dog who was right on the line where excitement turns to aggression. He pushed at the right times and backed off at the right times to keep the loose dog from crossing the line into aggression. I was really cool to watch him work!

The little dog was returned safely to his owners. Hopefully they keep a close eye on him, he may not be as lucky next time he gets out.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Ultimate Foundation

1DSC_0008 If you train to get a good pet dog, you will find a good Obedience dog along the way. This is true as long as you have an instructor capable of  giving you the pet dog you need and not the one you think that you want.

It happened to us, and I have watched it happen to countless people coming through the classes at Applewoods. They may not always end up in the Obedience Ring, but by the time they are happy with their pet, the dogs at the very least can perform all of the Open exercises reliably.

What I am starting to really appreciate about our journey to a good pet dog is the foundation Obedience has laid for the next step in Rugby's career, Agility.

We have been working to introduce Rugby to all the obstacles and some baby sequences this past week. With as little as a days introduction, Rugby is gaining confidence and starting to run through the mini courses we have set up.

After seeing his progress this week, these are the Obedience skills I am most grateful for.

1) Off Lead Control
This is about attention. To remain attentive enough to me that he is not sniffing the ground, leaving to have zoomies,  leaving to play with the other loose dogs in the yard or deciding to stay put and take a nap makes agility a hundred times easier than if starting with an untrained dog.

2) Distance Control
A skill that he perfected in his Utility work, being able to be sent away from me, work efficiently while he is there, and come back on command makes handling him for agility much easier on my part.

3) Jumps
Not only does he know the high jump, bar jump and broad jump well, but they have been generalized to fallen trees, legs, Mastiffs, etc. I am confident that if I point Rugby towards a jump, and tell him it is a jump, he is going over it no matter the shape or size.

4) Taking Direction
From both the Directed Jumping Exercise and the Directed Retrieve exercise, Rugby has learned to go where I direct him to go when I am standing next to him, and when I am across the ring.

5) Random Sit
Also from Directed Jumping, I can stop Rugby's motion in an instant with a sit command. I use this to keep him from making mistakes. Never practice it wrong. If I see he is straying from his path, I can sit him, restart, and make appropriate changes so he can succeed.

6) Sit Stay
Stay put on the pause table and on the start line. You move when I tell you. Stays are littered throughout Obedience starting in Novice with the Stand For Exam, the Stay before the Recall, the Group Stays and expand from there. He has lots of stay experience.

I'm sure as Rugby and I stumble through agility this list will grow. It took Rugby a week to learn what took my first dog 2-3 months to learn. I am so glad we did Obedience first.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Looking Forward


In December, I posted about my goals for this upcoming year. It included both a Companion Dog title (CD) and a Companion Dog Excellent title (CDX) on Diesel the German Shepherd Dog, a CD on Holly the Lab and the Utility Dog Excellent title (UDX) and Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) on Rugby. 

It is time to readjust our goals. 

Even though Diesel was 3/4 of the way ready for his CDX, he has made the switch from Obedience Dog to house dog. I miss working with Diesel. At least I have all the hair he left in my car to remember him by. 

The missing CDX will come with Little Miss Ellie, Rugby's Yorkshire Terrier girl. She has her CD already and has been introduced to Open work. She should have a CDX this year. 

Rugby's goals have shifted entirely. Agility is not nearly as exciting or useful as Obedience, but we are now working towards his MACH. His Obedience work is making, and will continue to make agility easy for us. Just have to get Rugby familiar with all the obstacles first.  I fully expect him to complete his Novice Agility (NA) and Novice Agility Jumper (NAJ) titles this year. I will pursue this goal using the same training methods we did with the OTCH - fair, balanced training and the acknowledgement of a job well done as the reward. It's working for us. 

Here we go!