Saturday, May 31, 2008

Weaves and Crates

I got home just in time to get Iris to class on Thurs. When I pulled into the driveway, I was greeted by Henry Beagle's howling and Iris' high-pitched yelping. This is not a good sign. I could see both faces in the window. Really not a good sign.

Henry gets the run of the house when no one is home. He moves from couch to couch and doesn't cause much trouble. His goal is to sleep on every piece of furniture at some point during the day. Iris needs to be crated, so she should not be looking out the window at me. When left out, Iris' goal is to ward off every truck, car, person, dog, leaf, sound, spirit, and who knows what else that passes the house. My brother must have forgotten to put her in the crate.

Iris stopped baking when I got closer to the house. Beagles don't actually know how to stop barking once they start. Iris is literally foaming at the mouth. She's panting really quickly. The windows are covered in dripping saliva. The area around the windows is wet with more spit. Things around the windows have been knocked over. There's still water in the dog bowls, but I'm still worried about her being dehydrated. And she's still breathing quickly. Thankfully, neither dog had an accident in the house. I tried to pick up quickly and then threw Iris, still drooling and foaming, in the car to get to class.

Iris was still doing the really fast panting when we got to class. I kept her outside and just walked her around for bit. It seemed to me like it was taking too long for her breathing to slow down, so I didn't want to jump right into agility. After sitting with her a bit, she did relax. Good for her because she didn't have much longer before I decided to bring her to the vet instead of agility. I think she was just so stressed and geared up from being left out all day, she took and little bit to calm down (getting in the car and arriving at agility probably didn't help calm her down).

I figured I was going to have a complete b*tch for class since she was already so far over her threshold, but she was actually better than I expected. She was a bit of a b*tch, but she wasn't the only one. Was there a full moon? When I did get Iris settled down enough to play agility, she was awesome! She was definitely tired, but she actually ran the full course! I think this was the first time she was focused enough to finish the course. Maybe I need to bring an exhausted dog to class more often. She's still not doing weaves without cages, but she's definitely making progress. We'll just keep practicing. We have next week off from class, so we can still focus on weaves.

That was our last weaves class. In June, we'll be taking the Five Directions (agility) and Competition Heeling. I'm also going to try and get Iris up to Little Dove Farm for the Beginner Herding Day on June 28th. I'd like to get her into the Jan Wesen Clinic in September too.

Maybe there is an upside to having weekends off from work.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Weaves #5

Iris was awesome in class on Thurs! Actually she's been awesome all week. Even just practicing, she's a lot more enthusiastic than she's been. I don't know what exactly happened, but whatever it was, I'm glad it did! Maybe she's starting to understand what I want so she's happier to do weaves? Or my "real person" things are starting to sort themselves out, so I'm more relaxed? Who knows. But I'll take it!

Iris seemed to have a lot of fun doing the course and was a lot more focused than she's been. It was really cool to see. Even when she was waiting her turn, she did really well giving attention and playing little games (targeting, backing up, etc) outside of her crate while a couple of the other dogs were practicing (I think I had her out during Makin and Carmen's turns. My memory is a little fuzzy now, but I do remember that she was doing really well).

While we were cleaning up at the end of class, Iris got to run around the barn. She seemed pretty happy about that. I wish I had a space like that for her to romp around at home. Now we'll have to see how this week goes. I start a new job tomorrow, so Iris' routine is going to be all switched around.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Weaves #4

At least I think it was class #4?

Iris was actually better than I expected her to be. She started class being really good hanging out with me. She was fine up until one of the other dogs in class started playing tug. At least at home, Iris likes to be the "supervisor." Neither of the other dogs gets to play without her permission and that only happens if she's also playing with them (even if I tell her to knock it off and stop acting like such a b*tch, Zeus will still slink off. At least Henry will ignore her). The play growling that goes with tugging probably sets her off a bit too. We went outside, walked around a bit, and alternated between attention games and watching the other dogs from outside.

During Iris' first turn to practice, she did well. I think I was more fun than I was last week? Maybe? After she got some zoomies out of her system, she was more focused on the weave poles than she has been. She likes doing jumps and tunnels, but I think she's starting to get that weaves are important too. Iris tired herself out running laps around the barn, so she was much more willing to relax in her crate. When it was her second turn to practice, her brain was a little fried, but at least she stayed out there playing! Even though the other dogs were all in cars by then, all of the people were in the barn, including a few guys. Sometimes guys are scary, so I was happy that she didn't seem concerned by them.

When we left, Iris got to meet Julie's new Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Bug. Iris did really good (and so did Bug)! Bug is close enough to Beagle-size that I bet she'd play with him (or maybe it's that Corigis and Beagles are duck sized?) Actually, Iris is almost always good about meeting dogs (who'd have guessed that! She gets lots of practice meeting the "oh he's friendly" loose dogs at the state park). The only time she gets snarky is when the other dog is really in her face. It's when other dogs are doing things, like running or playing or barking, that she needs to supervise it. She's a loud supervisor.

Now with only 2 classes left, we need to do some practicing this week! Hopefully my real life stuff will start to work out a bit (maybe? hopefully? please?) because Iris says she's neglected and is going to call animal control if I don't start giving her more attention. So says the dog who's behind me sleeping on the couch. Yeah, she has a rough life.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weaves, Stress, and Training

I haven't bothered to write about last Thursday's weaves class because I've been busy with "real person" things this week. Iris was a bit of a witch at class last week and more reactive to the other dogs than she usually is. I know she feeds off my stress. Of all the dogs I've lived with, she is BY FAR the most sensitive to my moods. So I was stressed and she was cranky (and probably stressed too). She was all over the place. There were periods when she was doing really well hanging out with me out of the crate and giving me attention, and then there were times when she was, well, "less good." Both of us had our heads in the clouds.

Of course because of everything I've had going on this week, we haven't practiced as much as we usually do. When I do practice with her, Iris is so distracted (the Beagle is barking, the neighbor's little yappy dogs are barking, cars are driving past, and I definitely have not been cooler than dirt)! Class tomorrow could be interesting. I think we have made some progress this week, but not as much as I'd like. Then again, I'm a little type-A (and that's why I have a herder and not a hound).

We did make it over to the state park for a little while. See the happy grin? I think this is our favorite spot.

I have no idea why Blogger likes to suck the life out of greens when I upload photos. Maybe once I get the new monitor (ok, not exactly new, but it's new for me) set up I'll try messing with it. But I was talking about dogs...

Tomorrow is another day and another class. Maybe both of us should try some rescue remedy before class! Iris says "Phbbbbtttt! Just spend less time worrying and more time playing!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Iris! My red girl turned 5 years old today. She's growing older (although not necessarily growing up!) Her day was filled with new toys...

...and boring photos of her with the toys. She did get to play with the toys and do some agility, but I'm not sure anyone is coordinated enough to play tug and take photos at the same time. Lucky for Iris since she's not so sure about the new camera.

Later, I went to class without her (poor sad Aussie) and played with another dog (a very cute Bug! At home, a jealous Aussie). But I did learn all sorts of neat stuff about doggie strength training, so Iris now has lots of new tricks to learn. Katrin also mentioned playing "hide and seek" with her dogs which reminded me that I used to play "find the bone" with my dog years ago. He'd down-stay in one room and I'd hide his toy in another room. Then I'd call him out and he'd find it. I need to try this again with Iris. I also chatted with Julie about obedience. A novice obedience class might give me some good skills to work on with Iris. So agility, herding, and maybe obedience? At least Iris likes being busy.

Later, Iris got a Frosty Paws ice cream and completely forgot about both the scent of corgi and the scary camera.

It's ok to make funny faces and to smoosh your nose to get the last drops.

The Beagle did not get any. He did not need any treats because he got to the dog training stuff and ate a WHOLE BAG of treats. He does not feel bad about this. In fact, I think he's quite proud of himself.

He does, however, regret that he's not getting any of Iris' ice cream (ok, I admit it, there was only one left and I thought the Birthday girl should get it). I should be thankful that it was the training bag he got to and not another sweatshirt or pants pocket. Although I suspect it's the Aussie and not the Beagle who's been putting holes in my pockets. Henry usually figures out pockets. Iris is a bit like the Kool-Aid man.

Weaves #2

I learned two important things in weave poles class last Thurs:

1. If I don't stop relying on the leash to get Iris' attention, Katrin is going to strangle me with it (and Katrin does have a point! It does me no good when Iris isn't wearing a leash so I shouldn't need it when she is).

2. If I'm "cooler than dirt," I'm also cooler than other dogs, people, the ground, cars, etc.

Iris was pretty good about waiting her turn during class. I had her out of her crate while Makin was running, and she gave me really good attention. Of all the dogs in class, Iris is least reactive to Makin, so I was stacking my odds a little there. Eventually, I'd like to work up to "watch a dog run, sit in the crate through the next dog, watch a dog run..." So she can alternate between giving me attention and sitting quietly (my ultimate goal would be for her to relax outside of the crate, but I think using the crate is more realistic right now). The way the class is arranged, waiting dogs sort of cluster around the door while one dog at a time works on the obstacles. So Iris does spend a lot of time waiting in close proximity with the other dogs. I think this is going to be a good thing for her to learn.

When it was Iris' turn, Katrin got her really revved up and excited. Iris was a lot less interested in the other dogs and more willing to just play with me. She was also much faster and more interested in doing the equipment than stopping for treats (or running off to harass other dogs, sniff the floor...) It was lot of fun! Now I definitely need to do more of this with her.

I realized that I don't do a lot of playing with Iris at home. When I do try to play with her, she'll immediately switch to playing with the Beagle (Henry is the coolest chew toy ever). If I have a toy, she'll keep playing with me because she can't let that Beagle have her toy! Goofy girl. I'm going to try using play as reward for weaves practice at home, so we'll see how it goes. And maybe on Thurs, I'll remember to be cooler than dirt.