I Failed…

We all make mistakes right? Last weekend we took the pups to Bartlett Lake. Some friends of ours were camping out and since the weather was cool (before heating up to 100 this week) and to help Raylee adjust to being away from Louie, we decided to take the dogs. While we had a great time relaxing lake side, lets just say I was more then a little frustrated and embarrassed with the dogs behavior. To be honest, by the time we left on Sunday I was just about done, with Thor in particular. Recently the suggestion of putting him on psychiatric meds has been brought up by our trainer, and after we got home I was battling between feeling like giving up on his behavior and letting him be a ‘house dog’ and starting him on meds, enrolling him in behavior classes or even a camp and taking him out to do training whether its hot or not. These feelings lasted until Monday evening when suddenly it hit me that the problems that occurred were entirely my fault, not his.

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Raylee Is Home!

For the past 6.5 weeks Raylee’s job has been being the best mom possible to the sweetest puppy in the world. Ok, yes, I may be a little biased, but seriously look at this face!

Louis at 6 weeks old- Photo courtesy of Blue AZ Frenchie
Louis at 6 weeks old- Photo courtesy of Blue AZ Frenchie

Raylee was given to us by a friend who breeds French Bulldogs. She wanted to add another female to her program but already having 5 dogs (2 pet only and 1 stud and 2 females) she felt it may be too much to add another dog to their pack. All of her dogs are pets first- they go to the dunes, the cabin, out to dinner, and even ride in a Razor frequently so I could see how keeping track of not only 5 but 6 dogs would be overwhelming. Her dogs being pets also means that she is not going to breed them until they are done and then rehome them at 5 or 6 like so many breeders do, her dogs are hers for life. She asked if we would be interested in “fostering” for her. While there is a lot that goes into it, essentially Raylee is our dog. We take care of her day in day out, however Maria, owner of Blue AZ Frenchie, has breeding rights for her. At the designated time, Raylee will be signed over to us and will then be spayed. Ill admit at first I was really torn about the arrangement.  I completely support rescue and anytime someone asks about where to get a dog I suggest different rescues I know first. However, I don’t have a problem with responsible breeders or people looking for a purebred dog.

Raylee checking in on Louis on a weekend trip to the cabin. Photo courtesy of Blue AZ Frenchie
Raylee checking in on Louis on a weekend trip to the cabin. Photo courtesy of Blue AZ Frenchie

Anyway, since I work long shifts and Maria is responsible for any puppies and can work from home, Raylee has spent the last 2 months at Maria’s home. I’ve been able to visit often, and got lots of pictures and updates when I wasn’t able to be there. I think Raylee has had a great time as well, having someone home all day, 5 other dogs to wrestle, chase, and steal toys from, and she’s even gone on trips to the cabin while I’ve been stuck at work!

Now that Louis is eating solid food and Raylee has weaned him, it was time for her to come home. Having been gone so long, I brought Raylee home expecting to capture some big dramatic home coming, and what I got was absolutely nothing of the sort. She walked in like she had simply gone to work with me for the day. When we pulled up Johnny checked us out through the window saw it was her and went to go hide his toys. Raylee walked in checked the boy’s dog bowls to make sure there were no kibbles lingering then ran over to see Thor in the dog room. I let him out and the sniffed each other and that was that. Raylee spent some time sniffing around, checking everything out and about 20 minutes later wrestle mania ensued.

Raylee and Thor right before wrestlemania ensued
Raylee and Thor right before wrestlemania ensued

While I was initially a little bummed not to get a more memorable reaction caught on film, I am so happy to know that she was completely comfortable while she was gone and that coming home she knew her spot in the family is hers forever. We will still visit with Louie a few more times before he goes to his forever home, and I know he’ll keep learning proper behavior from “his aunts” Kona and Talay who are all to eager to take over the puppy raising!

Photo courtesy of Blue AZ Frenchie
Photo courtesy of Blue AZ Frenchie

Trick of the Week- Carry

I wanted to build on the first Trick of the Week (check it out here) by teaching “Carry”. “Carry” is having your dog hold an item while moving, usually at the handlers side. Variations would be “Bring”-carrying an object to you and “Fetch”-sending the dog out to pick up the item and then bring it to you.

Why train the “carry”? Not only is it the basis of the really impressive dog tricks like “Walk another dog” or “Tidy up your toys” but it is also used by service dogs to retrieve items, for their elderly or disabled owners.

Photo of Service Dog helping his owner, courtesy of google.com
Photo of Service Dog helping his owner, courtesy of google.com

While I had attempted this trick before, in reality Thor learned this trick all on his own! I was asking him to hold an object and realized I forgot my treat bag and phone (camera) in across the room. I ran across the kitchen to grab it and when I looked down he had followed me, still holding the wallet. I could not believe it! I started racing around in little circles, praising him with “oh your such a good boy” “what a little man” ” your so smart, your so smart” all at some time around midnight. I’m sure if anyone saw me they would think I was mental. I was even more shocked when I took the item from him, gave it back, walked a couple feet and after just a moment of hesitation he trotted over with it like he had done it all his life! Continue reading

Moving right along..

Last week Thor earned his Intermediate Trick Dog Title! I am so proud of my little man and am SO excited for the next round of tricks. At this point he has the basics down and building on them only leads to cuter and cuter tricks. Between our computer being out of commission and family visiting there is a ton to catch up on, but for now check out his ITD application video.

Are you working through the trick dog titles with your pup? or fox? pig? ect? Check out Do More With Your Dog and join one of their FREE online classes to stay motivated and get help with any problems you encounter.

Wordless Wednesday

With record breaking heat waves all over the West Coast and nearly 100 degree temps here in Phoenix we decided we would share some of our favorite tips to stay cool on warm day for this week’s Wordless Wednesday!

We love using these freezable flexible mats during rest stops! Bonus they also work to keep our water and treats cool while we are walking!10615513_945047528842232_1168666539376290134_n1891156_970548509625467_5470168839701985889_n

We try to find places to walk near shallow water, or water play parks for children, to cool down during long walks.

Thor cooling in the stream at Gilbert’s Riparian Reserve

Pool time exercise…

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Sometimes you’ve gotta hitch a ride for part of the walk…

Our friend Amanda let us borrow Wynston’s stroller. Make sure to check out Dog Mom Days!

My favorite way to escape the heat? Trips to the beach!

Raylee and Thor near Pismo, CA


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Show Off your Pearly Whites

My “day job” is working at a busy 24 hour veterinary hospital. Yesterday both Thor and Johnny got to go to work with me and see their favorite doctors as well. Thor has had a severe allergy flair up that needed some treatment and I felt it was time for Johnny to have his teeth cleaned.

The "before" picture
The “before” picture

I’m a helicopter mom. Yes I know this and I’m fine with it. Hey It’s my job to be responsible for the pets right?

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Directional Casting

DC Pic use

One of the tricks Thor is learning for is ITD (intermediate trick dog title) is Directional Casting. I wanted to choose this one from the list of possible tricks since it is a valuable tool for him to use in his modeling/acting career.

What is directional casting?

Just like the name suggests it’s sending the actor in a specific direction. For the trick title he needs to go to the location that I as his handler/trainer send him. Directional casting is used for animal acting, search and rescue (SAR) dogs, and in field retrieving as well as dog sports like agility and canine freestyle.

This is a new trick for Thor although he does have some experience with “go to mark”. I started by folding up two blanket into smaller squares and placing them about 3 feet apart. I had him come into position on my left hand side and starting just about a foot from one blanket I held my arm out straight leading towards the blanket. This is similar to what we do if we we’re pointing out a missed treat (#messyeatingbulldogs) or pointing to a toy to bring to us, so he already knew to look in that direction and see what I was leading towards. Once he took a step or two and was on the blanket I tossed the treat in front of him. Gradually we started further from the blanket and then I started sending him to the other blanket as well.

I just love his smile!
I just love his smile!

What we need to work on:

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We went for a walk today…

Well yesterday actually! While I typically do most of the “dog stuff”; training, medications, dressing them up and taking pictures, thinking of new ways to challenge them, taking them to classes ect, my fiance is the belly rub giver. We are on the same page when it comes to wanting more for Johnny however, so I asked if he would go with us to see how Johnny should be handled. Honestly, I also felt myself getting more and more stressed just thinking about taking Johnny out, so I needed him there for me as well.

Johnny doing a short sit stay while I watered plants before we started!
Johnny doing a short sit stay while I watered plants before we started!

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The Game Plan

I’ve finally narrowed down how I plan to go about working with Johnny on his reactive issues. CARE for Reactive DogsRelaxation ProtocolMuzzle Training and of course Trick Training. I think each of these work hand in hand and will help him be more rounded and able to handle many different situations. There is so much support from all the different facebook groups and fellow bloggers and having a plan in place has really helped me get excited and motivated to work through this! This afternoon we went on a walk with CARE protocol in mind and it was much less stressful for Johnny, my fiance and myself. Ill post about that later tonight!

The beginning of the CARE Protocol states you should:

C- Consider the Dog’s History

A- Analyze and Arrange

R- Respite and Relaxation

E- Equipment

Johnny’s history? He walks great on leash, doesn’t bark or pull lunging to get at people until they are within his strike zone,

Johnny’s Triggers? Stranger, Dogs, Kids. This is the order we are going to work with him as well. Once he’s calmer around strangers then we’ll work on dogs and then once he’s more reliable try desensitizing him with kids. He doesn’t seem worked up around moving objects or noises which is great! Continue reading