Friday, April 29, 2016

Flying through the Tunnel!


At my apartment complex, we have a little fenced in dog run that they've furnished with a tunnel and some platforms. The girls absolutely love the tunnel.

Phoenix, with Zoe peeking around the corner.

They both get so excited to run through the tunnel and it's super cute! It's nice having somewhere fenced that I can let them run around off leash when I can't make it to other parks. I also will use the area for training, too!

Do you have a place you like to go to train your dogs?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Buster Activity Mat! Take 2! New Activities!

Keep your dog busy and mentally engaged with the Buster Activity Mat! 


Back in November I had the wonderful experience of working with Buster on a review for their Activity Mat (you can find that by clicking here) and today we are doing take 2 with new activities for it! 

The Buster Activity Mat is a really fun puzzle toy that keeps dogs from becoming bored and destructive by giving them a job to do. My dogs really enjoy working out the puzzles and I love that Buster has a variety of different puzzles to choose from. Buster sent us our new activities in exchange for an honest review. 

The Rainbow Purse is a rectangle task that has four compartments to hide treats in. It folds up completely and "locks" with velcro. Just like all the other activities for the mat, it attaches with 3 press studs. The dog must use their nose and paws to open the purse and find the treats. 

The Top Hat is a circular task that has 8 pockets that you fold together and secure with the hat. The dog must then pull the hat off and find the treats in each of the pockets. The pockets are sewn closely together, making it more difficult to get the treats. This is one of the more advanced tasks that Buster has available. The Top Hat attaches to the mat with 4 press studs.

The Mouse Trap is another more advanced task. With this task, you hide treats in the loop of the "mouse" then slide them into the pockets. The dog must pull the "mouse" out by it's tail to get the treats out. The Mouse Trap attaches to the mat with four press studs.

Here's a short video of Phoenix working on the new tasks for the Activity Mat! This video was originally 15 minutes long and it would of been even longer if I had added more food to the tasks. I will often feed them their dinner in puzzle toys and it can take them around 30+ minutes to get all the food out of this one with all the tasks to do.

My dogs absolutely love doing the tasks for their Activity Mat. They have been having so much fun with the new ones and we still use our old tasks, too! The Activity Mat keeps them mentally stimulated, especially on boring rainy days! I think it's so awesome that Buster has extra tasks available for purchase and this is one of the most versatile puzzle toys we've ever had. The tasks for the Activity Mat keep them very busy, generally around 15-30 minutes per dog worth of seeking out food. The toys are all made from rip-stop nylon and my dogs have not been able to tear or hurt anything. We've been using the Activity Mat since November and all of the toys are still in brand new condition. I also love the storage bag that comes with it, all of their tasks fit in perfectly and I haven't lost any of them. When not in use, it's easily stuffed in the closet.

As with all puzzle toys, I highly recommend monitoring your dog while they use them.

I would highly recommend checking out the Activity Mat by Buster. Your dogs will love it!

ZoePhee was sent the Activity Mat Starter Set and the additional tasks in exchange for an honest review. We were not monetarily compensated and all opinions are my own. Buster is not responsible for the content of this blog post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Flower Power!

Phoenix loves to stop and sniff the flowers and recently we found some really pretty ones over by my work. When Phoenix goes to class we get there early and walk around the neighborhood. We found these and I had to take her picture with them!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Training Updates! Impulse Control & Nosework

Happy Training Tuesday everyone!

Phoenix has been going to Impulse Control classes on Fridays and if you've been reading my updates you will know that she's been struggling in the classes. She is a lot more afraid of other dogs than I originally thought. It really makes me sad because she's her true happy self, she plays and takes food and has a great time up until the first dog arrives. After the first dog gets there, she starts acting fearful and she's been getting stressed. 

This past Friday, I got to work early per my usual routine and I decided to try something different. We played for the first 15 or so minutes and then after that I asked for relaxation. I've been working for a very long time with both of my dogs to relax on the mat and that's what we did. I had her lay on her side and gave her a massage and some nice calm petting. She almost fell asleep but our instructor arrived and that was that. I have no idea if it helped or not but she did so much better. The dog that ran up to her two weeks ago was also absent and I honestly think that was a relief for both of us.

Phoenix was able to participate in all of the lessons and we didn't really use any barriers. In the photo above, she's actually out in the middle of the room with the other dogs close by. She settled on her mat as other dogs walked past her and she also was able to walk past other dogs and around the room. She did really well and she was a lot more relaxed than any of her previous Impulse Control classes. She has 2 more weeks of this class and I'm really hoping the next sessions go as well as this one did. 

Zoe is loving her nosework classes, probably a little too much. :D The only solo photo of Zoe is on the skateboard! Sorry about that! This was our second nosework class. I was not able to get any photos of her searching because I was too embarrassed to ask someone to do it for me and right now she's kind of a destructo-dog so taking the photos myself is an impossible task. Zoe has played way too many shaping games with boxes so when she gets to the box with the scent she offers all sorts of random behaviors. Most of them are hilarious but not exactly needed for an alert. Right now she's decided that flipping the boxes is what I want. She puts her nose towards the bottom of the box and flips them. At least she ignores the other boxes that don't have the scent so that's good. 

I was given advice by our trainer and several other people to try and get the treats into her before she can start offering crazy behavior with the scented box and I've been trying my best to do that. She definitely sticks to her alert but it's "be crazy time" with the scented box and I'm hoping I can get rid of all of that behavior soon. She's having so much fun in class and I'm really excited we found something that she likes to do! Phoenix is also learning the nosework lessons at home and both dogs are really loving it! We had a pretty good week this week and zero reactivity! Woohoo! 

Have you taught anything new to your dog lately?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Riding the Skateboard of Life!

Recently I found out that my work has a skateboard! They use it in their puppy classes for socialization and also as a distraction in some of their other classes. I'm sure you guys have all seen those cute videos of dogs fearlessly riding their skateboard down the street. I've always wanted to teach that to my dogs.

Phoenix got introduced to the skateboard during her impulse control class. That was the first time she's ever been allowed to check out a skateboard. Within seconds I had shaped her to put her paws on it and hop along as it moved.

The next day was Zoe's nosework class, so I got to work early with the intention of doing some more shaping with the skateboard. Phoenix was a lot more confident on her second try.

Zoe likes the skateboard WAY more than Phoenix does. Zoe was pretty much fearless with it. Why that surprises me, I'm not really sure. Zoe has been on a full sized teeter totter before and she's never been afraid of standing on things that move. She's afraid of everything else but apparently not moving objects.

Both dogs had fun trying to figure out what I wanted them to do and I'm going to have to buy them their own skateboard!

Have you ever taught your dogs to stand on something that moves before? How did it go?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Do You Smell What I Smell!?

Ah.. the smell of fresh rodent in the air! 

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you're all having a fantastic day! 

Fun Fact: The Dog Dad and I have been together for 16 years today! 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Dog Trainer Confessions #2: No Dog Tags!?

Welcome to my new series: Dog Trainer Confessions


This series is where I answer all of your questions and tell you my deepest, darkest secrets! Be sure to leave your questions in the comments below or email me at:



That's right! My dogs don't wear any ID tags unless we are going on a day trip off the property. We live in an apartment complex that is full of dogs, 95% of them are reactive. One of the most common triggers for a reactive dog is hearing jiggling dog tags. Taking their tags off has allowed me to control the antecedent (the thing that happens before the behavior).

Not having any jiggling tags has really helped to prevent some of the dogs from freaking out at us as we pass their units, especially our downstairs neighbor dog who actually slams into and attacks the glass when people walk their dogs past her. Barking and lunging dogs really scare Phoenix and not having a jiggling trigger on her has been one more way to help her feel safe.

I know this is not something everyone will feel comfortable doing, it's probably a very unpopular idea and that's totally fine. My dogs still have ID, my phone number is written on the backside of their collars and they are also microchipped. I'm thinking about getting those tags that attach directly to the collar instead of a tag that hangs. Right now what I've done works well for us. I'm not at all worried about either of my dogs getting out or away from me. Both of the girls are pretty much stuck to me like glue and not having immediately visible ID on them while we are walking around our neighborhood is not a big deal.

Disclaimer: I do not ever recommend leaving dogs unattended outside without ID and I don't recommend taking their tags off unless you know your dog won't take off on you. 

What sort of ID do you have for your dogs and are you happy with it?

Don't forget to leave me your burning dog training questions! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Merrick Backcountry Dog Treats! #ChewyInfluencer

Hi everyone and welcome to our monthly review! is an awesome company that ships all of your favorite pet products right to your door! They have amazing customer service and their shipping is incredibly fast. They are one of our favorite companies! We received our treats as part of the blogger program in exchange for an honest review.

Today we are reviewing Merrick Backcountry: Great Plains Real Beef Sausage Cuts for Dogs. My dogs really enjoy Merrick products so they were super excited when we got this package!

The Merrick Backcountry Beef Sausage treats are a high protein treat that features a wood smoked flavor your dog will go wild for. The treats are grain and gluten free and real beef is the number one ingredient.  These sausage treats are made in the USA.

Ingredients: Deboned Beef, Dried Cultured Skim Milk, Mixed Tocopherols (a preservative), Rosemary Extract.

Both of my dogs absolutely loved these treats. They are a medium sized treat and are easily torn into smaller pieces. I've been cutting them up and using them for training. The sausages are not greasy and don't crumble. They are the perfect sort of treat that I can easily carry in my pocket. I would definitely get these again and I would recommend checking them out!

ZoePhee receives items from as a part of their blogger program in exchange for an honest review. We are not monetarily compensated and all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Happy Dogs!

Recently, Zoe has decided she wants to participate in photo ops again! I'm so excited about it because I love being able to get cute, happy photos of her!

Do your dogs like the camera?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Training Updates! Good & Not So Great...

Happy Training Tuesday everyone! I have some training updates on both dogs for you.

I posted this last week but Phoenix graduated from her Treibball class. That was pretty cool and she actually knows the lessons that were taught. It was a fun experience and something I hadn't taught before. I learned a lot and I'm hoping to continue with it!

Phoenix is still taking her Impulse Control class. I didn't update about it last week because she had a hard time in class and I wanted to think about it before I wrote about it. One of the other dogs got away from their person and ran up to her (nothing happened, she didn't snark at the other dog because I removed her immediately). Phoenix shut down on me after that for the rest of that class. She didn't want to participate in any of the exercises and she stopped taking food. This dog lives for food and loves to work so if she didn't want to do the lessons or take food, it was a pretty big deal. I wasn't very happy about it and I was pretty upset that Phoenix is really THAT scared of other dogs. She's always been a pretty resilient little dog, things would happen to her and she'd bounce right back. Taking her to class has really shown me a different side to her, it makes me sad and it's really eye opening.
We go to class early so she can run around the building and play. She will never be able to do play groups so it's the one little thing I can give her and nobody seems to mind when I show up early. We play fetch and practice our lessons a little bit before the class and she's a completely different dog. She's having fun and running around like she owns the place, then as soon as the first dog shows up she is just not herself. Her playful, enthusiastic self goes away. It's kind of depressing and it makes me glad that I never put her into classes when I first got her. Back then she definitely would not have done well. I also really regret the year and a half we spent in California because before we moved there she was doing pretty well with her dog/dog interactions and that year and half spent in isolation in the mountains was a year and a half we could of been training. Literally nothing went right leading up to the move from Oregon to California.. I was supposed to have a car and the freedom to do stuff with the dogs and that pretty much died when my car did. It sucked and I wish it could of been different.

The very next Impulse Control Class we attended went a lot better. She was still really nervous in class but nobody ran up to her and she was able to do the whole class. I was a lot more happy with how it went versus the previous class. I know that not all dogs are going to like other dogs but it would be nice if she could hang out comfortably with other dogs without being so nervous that they will eat her. That's really my only goal at this moment with her.

Zoe started her Nose Work class. I had been debating which dog I wanted to put into the class and I had no idea which one to choose. I generally prefer working with Phoenix more than Zoe. I love Zoe but she can be a pain in the ass sometimes. Zoe's general anxiety and resource guarding really stresses me out and I wasn't sure if she would even want to do the class. She's not very driven to play my games or participate in stuff. She loves to do her tricks and she has a lot of fun with them but she can be really independent and dare I say it... stubborn. Yes, she can be stubborn and I don't use that word lightly. Generally when people say their dogs are stubborn, it's because the dog isn't motivated enough to do the thing or not trained well enough and the training was not proofed. Zoe has the training and the proofing for me to say she can sometimes be stubborn and that can make it difficult on our relationship. I love her but sometimes I don't like the behaviors she does. The love but not like actually reared it's head on Saturday but I'll get to that in a minute. I'm hoping that she likes nosework and maybe she can learn to use her super sniffer for something other than finding rodents.

Zoe has done some nosework stuff before but not at all in a traditional way. She's been playing "find mom's keys" since we got her and we've done some other nosework games, too. I figured I would try the class with her and see how it went. She really liked the games we played during class and she had a good time. She was pretty excited that the first games she was learning involved finding various hidden food. Her mind was pretty blown that all she had to do was look for food and not do a complicated trick first. I also did some drive building with her, where I held her back, got her really excited to search and then released her to the boxes and it was so fun seeing her actually spring forward and happily do the thing. Class went really well. I also came home and taught the lessons to Phoenix, too.

Phoenix plays the nosework game. (We are out of boxes at the moment)

So after the class we had a work meeting and I'm not sure what I was thinking but I had both dogs out with me. I figured they would be okay to settle on their mat while we had the meeting. They settle on their mat together for all sorts of things, when we eat at outdoor restaurants and coffee places so this is not a new thing. Oh boy... I am such an idiot sometimes. One of my co-workers brought her little chihuahua and even though that dog didn't come near my dogs and had no interest in my dogs, Zoe spent 2/3rds of the meeting resource guarding her space. It was so bad that Phoenix kept getting up and refusing to lay down next to her. She was doing it subtly with just her eyes and some whining, it was not enough to where any of the trainers would notice but Phoenix and I both knew exactly what she was doing and I was like: "Oh. My. God. I am going to have to throttle my dog in front of a bunch of other positive reinforcement trainers. Crap." (No, I wasn't actually going to throttle her... LOL) It was so embarrassing! I don't know what got into her but seriously, the other dog wasn't even interested in her or her space. I finally ended up saying something and my co-worker was kind enough to pick up her dog. After her dog was safely in her lap, Zoe actually fell asleep and it turned out okay. The next meeting we have, my dogs probably won't be attending!

I don't know why Zoe has to be such an asshole sometimes but it can be really frustrating! I've put a lot of work into her and she's a great dog most of the time but those few times she's not it can be so embarrassing. I'm really hoping she continues to like her nosework classes, though! She seemed like she was having fun and maybe this is her sort of thing!

I will keep everyone updated on how things go with both dogs!

Are you taking any training classes with your dogs?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring! It Comes and It Goes...

Oh Spring! Come and stay for a while! We've been having some interesting weather. It's been going back and forth between warm and cold and the nights are still pretty cold, too! Some of our flowering trees started blooming and then we had petals everywhere! I'm so glad I got a few photos because the very next day it was pouring rain outside!

The girls are definitely enjoying the weather when it's dry out! They hate the rain! Spring is my favorite season so I hope it sticks around and doesn't go right into summer!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Friday, April 15, 2016

Dog Trainer Confessions #1: Most Challenging Trick

So I've been wanting to start a new series on the blog and today is the first post! This series is going to be my "Trainer Confessions" it's where I answer all of your questions and tell you my deepest, darkest secrets! Let's get started! Feel free to leave your questions in the comments below (or you can also email me at and I will answer them in this series! You can ask me absolutely anything.

What has been your most challenging trick that you've ever taught?

 My most challenging trick that I've ever taught has been Zoe's "limping" and "skipping" trick. 

This trick took so much patients and endless sessions of being bent over and holding her paw up to encourage her to hop on her other legs. I basically broke my back teaching it. It took Zoe about a month to completely understand what I wanted with just one paw. We would do around four training sessions per day and then when I was done with the first front paw, we had to completely repeat the process for the other paw. Then once she had both paws down, we began training the "skip" trick where she hops from one paw to the other. Limping is still a work in progress nearly 4.5 years later and it's something we constantly work on to make sure she maintains her muscles and muscle memory for it. 

Limping and skipping is such a hard, advanced trick that I've avoided teaching it to Phoenix for years because the process is so long and frustrating. I just didn't want to spend all that time bent over again. The past few days I decided it was time to try and work on it with Phoenix. I'm training it a bit differently than I did with Zoe. I'm doing more shaping than I did with Zoe. With Phoenix, I'm teaching her to put one paw up on a platform and take one hop forward with her other paw that's on the ground. She's got that part down, so I'm really hoping she figures out to hold it up on her own soon! Keep your fingers crossed that she does, so I don't lose my mind! ;)

If you have any questions for me regarding dog training or anything else, please be sure to leave them in the comments below or email them to me!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Let's Go Hiking with the Hurtta Active Harness!

Let's go hiking! There's nothing more refreshing than a peaceful hike in the forest with my dogs. Getting away from the noise in the city and being out in the fresh mountain air is so hugely beneficial to our lives. My dogs absolutely love any and all adventures in the wilderness so I was super excited when Hurtta asked us to test out and review their new Active Harness.

The brand new Active Harness from Hurtta is an awesome, versatile harness. The harness is padded for comfort and is easily adjustable. The Active Harness is one of the first from the Hurtta line that features 4 points of adjustment. This harness has two heavy duty clips on each side so you don't have to bend your dogs legs or touch their feet to get the harness on. The back of the harness comes with a sturdy handle. The handle is really helpful for keeping your dog close to you on more narrow trails and it's also useful if you need to help lift your dog up. You can also use this handle to feed a seat belt through in the car (as a car safety harness) but we have not tried this feature yet.

The Active Harness features efficient 3m reflectors and I really love the bright pink. The dogs are very visible, which is so important when you're hiking in the mountains, especially during hunting season. The Harness comes in Cherry (hot pink), Raven (black), Yellow or Orange. We chose the cherry color because I really like my dogs in girly colors.

I really like the Active Harness. It's a great, light-weight but sturdy piece of equipment that's really nicely padded and didn't cause any rubbing or chaffing on my dogs. The only thing I would change about the Active Harness is that I feel like the chest piece is too wide for my dogs and I would make it more narrow between the front legs. The girls didn't have any trouble with it rubbing but we also don't do long distance treks. We hike more for pleasure than anything else and we only go 4-8 miles each trip out. I also think it would be great if Hurtta offered more colors.

If you need a new sturdy harness for you dog I would recommend checking the Active Harness out!

You can find retailers in North America by going here: Hurtta247 Stockists.

I would also highly recommend checking Hurtta out on Facebook and liking their page. They often look for product testers and run their own giveaways. The best way of finding out all the Hurtta news is by liking their page. 

ZoePhee received two Active Harnesses from Hurtta in exchange for an honest review. We were not monetarily compensated and all opinions are my own. Hurtta is not responsible for the content of this blog post.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Are You Coming???

One of the things that I do regularly with my dogs is send them down the trails so that I can either practice their recalls and photograph them recalling. Phoenix has figured this out and usually she will stop and look back at me like "are you coming?" One of my favorite things about her is how well she pays attention to me!

What's your favorite thing about your dog?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Phoenix Graduated from Treibball!

Phoenix graduated from her first training class!

When I got this dog, we had no idea if we would ever be able to do much with her. She had to learn how to learn, she couldn't be touched or lured. She was scared of absolutely everything. I honestly can't believe that 3.5 years later she's on her way to knowing more stuff than Zoe. I never thought that would happen! She is so much fun and she really enjoyed learning Treibball. I'm really hoping that they offer the next level class soon! 

All the extra trick training that we've done the past few years really paid off for Treibball. She picked it up so quickly and I'm pretty excited about it. I don't know if we'll ever end up competing but it's been a lot fun and I really want to continue with it. 

I will get a video of her poking the giant ball for you guys soon!
La Vie En Rose

Monday, April 11, 2016

My dogs don't know NO...

Ah punishment, one of my favorite topics. My dogs don't know the word "no". I try to never use that word when I am training and I would encourage everyone else to stop using it, too.

Why wouldn't we want to tell our dogs no? The word NO does not tell the dog what you want them to do. Dogs do not understand right from wrong and using that word will not teach it to them. Using NO will not change your dog's behavior. Temporary suppression of behavior doesn't change the underlying cause of that behavior. At best you're just nagging the dog and at the worst you are causing the dog to shut down and that can make the dog become fearful of you. I don't know about you guys but I never want my dogs to fear me and I strive to have the best relationship with them that I possibly can. Using punishment can work (temporarily) but it ruins the bond and it makes the dog less likely to choose you over anything else in the environment. I see this all the time with other dog owners when their dogs refuse to come back to them.

You have to understand why the dog is doing the behavior and either prevent the behavior from happening using management, train an alternate behavior or counter condition the behavior to change the underlying emotional response. The word NO is just not useful in dog training. Plus, we say it so much conversationally with other humans that it just doesn't make sense to make it punishing for our dogs.

It's so much more important to be proactive in your training and ask your dogs to do something that they know instead of telling them off with a "no" or any other words that your dog finds aversive.  Stopping unwanted behavior can be as simple as using your recall, telling them to leave it or asking for a sit or down. In an emergency, I can yell "wait" and my dogs know that this a cue to immediately stop what they are doing, to freeze. Having this sort of cue available gives me a few seconds to figure out what I need to ask them to do next.

Solving unwanted behavioral issues can also be as easy as giving the dog another job to do. A lot of dogs display unwanted behavior because they are bored. Making sure a dog has had enough exercise and mental stimulation is incredibly important and helpful for preventing problem behaviors. So give your dog a job to do, challenge them mentally and make sure you are giving them enough of your time and attention. Buying them puzzle toys can also be hugely beneficial, so they have stuff to do when you can't pay attention to them.

Have I ever slipped up with the word NO? Of course I have. We are all human and sometimes we make mistakes. I have caught myself being conversational with my dogs with the word "NO" as well. It doesn't happen very often and because my dogs don't associate the word with punishment it doesn't bother them or really mean anything. When that happens I remind myself to tell my dogs what I want them to do and I use a cue that they know.

What is your most used cue with your dogs?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Car Sick but Happy!

Hurtta Active Harness, review is forthcoming!

As you might be able to tell in the photo, with Phoenix's slightly glazed over look, she is car sick! Poor thing! She has always had trouble riding in the car and it was just one of those days! She was really happy to be hiking and she would never want to be left behind so it's just one of those things we have to deal with sometimes! I'm glad it doesn't happen as much as it used to!

Have you ever dealt with car sickness in your dog before? Have you tried anything that has helped?

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sunrise in the Gorge!

Yesterday I got up at 5am. I couldn't sleep so I decided to go see the sunrise. We haven't been going to Thousand Acres that much because I've been working with Phoenix's reactivity. I'm trying to keep her 100% under threshold and you can't really accomplish that at a giant off leash park where any dog is welcome.

The sky definitely didn't disappoint me! It was glorious and completely peaceful with no dogs in sight.

It was really windy so Zoe was pretty nervous and unhappy. This is probably the happiest photo I was able to get of her all morning. Poor Zoe! I always feel so bad for her when she's like that.

One of the most awesome things about Phoenix is that she's generally a pretty happy little dog. As long as she doesn't have to deal with other dogs or the smoke alarm going off, she's great!

This one didn't quite turn out that great but I still think it's a fun shot. Phoenix bounding around in the tall grass having a good time!

We had a really nice morning and we only ran into one dog on the way back to the car. Luckily he was on leash and didn't care about them. It was a great morning! I hope I can drag my butt out of bed to do this again soon!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Training & Treibball Updates! Getting Out Of Our Comfort Zone!

This past week we started our new class, Impulse Control and we also had our Treibball Class with Phoenix. Impulse Control was on Friday and Treibball was on Monday.

On Friday I was having a lot of anxiety and I was an all-around basket case before class. We got to my work very early. Whenever I take my dogs to work, I try to show up before the office staff leaves and locks me out because I don't have a key yet. It gives me a chance to let the girls run around and have some fun so that they associate the building with good things. They help me set up for class and I throw them some toys and we have treats and practice some tricks. Zoe gets weird about new places and she's not loving their flooring so it's really important that the training building becomes a normal thing for her and a fun place.

Friday's class was a brand new class for us with new dogs, completely unknown dogs and owners. I was freaking out. I set myself up two barriers, one blocking the dog beside us and one directly in front of us. Basically, I was afraid someone would accidentally drop their leash and the dog would end up in Phoenix's face and that bad things would happen. We have a young puppy in the class and the last thing I want is for my dog to traumatize a baby puppy. I am really trying to set Phoenix up for success and I don't want another incident. So we were behind the barriers for the whole class, I would let Phoenix peek out from them and feed her for looking at dogs, then we'd go back and work on the exercises for class. After class, my trainer told me she wants me to stop hiding behind barriers.

Sigh... I want to trust my trainer and I want trust Phoenix but I don't trust Phoenix. It was only two weeks ago that she went after this trainer's dogs and I'm not over it. It's hard for me to be objective about the behavior that's happening right now when we just had that incident. I also think that because Phoenix is not explosive in her reactivity, she doesn't bark at every dog in sight and she doesn't flip out until it's too late that people tend to misread her a little bit. I do it all the time (and I'm constantly staring at her trying to figure out warning signals) so it's not hard to assume that someone who doesn't know her will misread her too. I misjudged her two weeks ago when she went after my trainer's dogs! She is usually fine with dogs her size and smaller. Usually.... Until she decided she wasn't fine.

On Saturday, we did another trick demo for our Basic Manners class and Phoenix got to stunt double for Zoe. Zoe does not like the flooring at my work and she refused to do her back stall. Phoenix was able to come out into the room that was full of dogs (some were barking) and she was able to do the trick. She was off leash but 100% focused on me. So there's that and I probably should trust her more than I do. I think the difference is that I am much more confident with tricks than any other sort of training, so my mindset was "Phoenix will come out, do this back stall and it's going to be perfect then she's going to go away" and that's exactly how it went. I don't even remember her looking around the room. She just came out, I told her to wait, we did the trick and she nailed it and then I put her right back in the lock out with a jackpot of treats and brought Zoe back out. It was awesome and both dogs did a great job showing off their tricks. The class loved them and many of them had lots of questions that I was able to answer. It was a great confidence booster for me and also good practice speaking in front of a group.

So the Monday Treibball class came and because I had already been in class with everyone for 4 weeks, I decided that I kind of knew what to expect with this set of dogs and handlers and I didn't put up any barriers. Only one dog from our class showed up. It was a success. Phoenix was nervous when the other dog was moving around but she handled herself pretty well. The other dog stayed on his side of the room and we stayed on ours. I was able to do quite a bit of counter conditioning with her watching him and it worked out really well.

Phoenix is advancing in her Treibball lessons and she's doing a good job. We've been practicing our homework every day! Right now we are working on directional cues, so she's learning which way I want her to go around the ball. She's also starting to learn to push the ball a teensy bit. She really shouldn't be pushing the ball yet but she's pretty good at all the other foundation skills that we went ahead started her on the ball. Who knew all the other training I've done with her would come in handy for Treibball? :) At some point, I will try and get a video for everyone so you guys can see how she's doing!

The goal for tomorrow's Impulse Control Class is to get down to only one barrier to block the dog next to me. Instead of having two of them. I'm going to try but it's definitely out of my comfort zone. The one good thing about being set up in the corner of the room is that I'm stationed right next to the holder for the barriers so if I absolutely have to, I can pull another one down. I've been talking to one of the other trainer's that I work with, she used to teach a lot of reactive dog classes and she definitely thinks I need to push Phoenix more. I can't advance with her training if I hide behind every barrier and around every corner. I will make sure to keep everyone updated with how it goes!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Sit Pretty!

"Sit Pretty" is one of Phoenix's most favorite tricks and it's her most offered behavior! 

Does your dog have a favorite trick?