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?


  1. Sadly, there are only so many things you can overcome or change with a dog. At some point, you have to accept how it is and learn to live with that. It is a bummer humans can't just talk to us and explain things now and then, but that won't happen, so you have to live with what you have. We'll be interested to hear how nose work goes for you.

  2. It's tough sometimes. There are times when I actually say to Delilah, I want to punch you in the head. (I don't of course, but I want to!)

    No training classes for us, mostly because I can't find a local positive trainer, but I do keep working with them.

  3. Some dogs don't ever seem to want to be around other dogs. We have one in our yacht club that is horrible to every dog in the fleet. We avoid her at all costs. You train your babies and I'm impressed with that. These people just leave this dog to run amok and make everyone else cringe. One day their dog came onto our boat and peed on our carpet. I was over the moon.

    Have a fabulous day. Scritches to the girls. ☺

  4. It's hard to figure out what our fur babies are thinking but you are working hard on it and with patience still making progress. Hang in there, Phoenix needs you!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  5. I'm sorry things have been frustrating. It's so hard when we feel like we can't protect our dogs, and then when things go wrong, we can't explain to them that it will be all right. It's great that you've got them both in classes. And impulse control is such a great thing to focus on. Here's hoping things continue to look up!!

    And who hasn't had one of those "it seemed like a good idea at the time!" moments.

  6. I totally feel you, my dog is quite the asshole. I believe she's "fear aggressive" and has outburst at most dogs bigger than him (which is everyone when you're only 15lbs). I so wish I can do more with him, but we're taking it slow

  7. I feel the same way about Pike. I love him, he's very smart, but he's...well, a dick. Sometimes I think you just gotta accept it!

    No training classes for us. There's no one PR here!

  8. A friend texted me a week ago to ask when I was planning on taking Titus for his first hike and I wrote back, "Right now I am planning on skinning him." Of course I didn't mean it and of course you didn't, either, but they can be frustrating! Although they probably say the same thing to each other about us!

    I love your homemade nosework set-up, especially the stuffed snake. :)

  9. Life with dogs can be so frustrating and so embarrassing. We've all been in your shoes... (wanting to throttle our dogs :) You're doing amazing stuff with them so keep your eye on the long term. It sounds as if you're learning more and more about your dogs, which is only a good thing for your training!

  10. Hi hi hi! Ojo here! Trigger stacking. It sucks, and it happens to our humans as well as to us Dogs. You know, the day your person is running late and then loses her keys and then gets cut off in traffic and then someone is rude and suddenly she is yelling, even though normally she would never yell at someone just for being rude.

    For me being in an unfamiliar place is a huge stress. Intense Dogs are a huge stress. I can handle one, or the other, but when they both happen together - like sometimes when I go to Dog Class - I totally shut down too. Or else I run around in frenzied circles with my brain totally turned off.

    I am grateful that my person is getting better at understanding my triggers and reading my body, so she can tell if I'm already stressed and help me not add more stress. Some days she'll ask me to handle a situation that she wouldn't on other days, just based on everything else that's already happened.

    We are thinking about nose work too! Cobi has done SAR tracking, and is very good at it, so I think it's my turn! But our person hasn't decided who will get to do it either! But it sounds like so much fun!!!


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