Monday, August 31, 2009

Extreme Mutt Makeover: Part V: A Harry Party.

Oye! It's half-way to the big showdown and I'm one nervous Nellie. Harry is doing well, very well at home, but we had a set back. I took him to my workshop on Saturday and he was a mess. He jumped and barked and yanked on the leash. He looked like a typical shelter dog who had no training at all!

I know he has really only had training in low-level distractions but he showed me the reality of what happens when you only train where the dog is comfortable. And folks, let this be a lesson. Dogs do great at home. I know this. And I know more than I should and then I go blank when it comes to this. I was more horrified with myself knowing that I knew I needed to work him in distractions and I hadn't. He just proved my point on Saturday. So now I'm hitting myself over the head!

We did head to the Euless Dog Park on Sunday with hubby and baby in tow and got about 30 minutes of some distraction work done. He did well with the treats now to just keep going until the big day and get him off of treats. No treats allowed at the competition just our love and praise!

So I'm going to offer a great deal for many of you! A free training lesson in distractions! I want to hold a "Harry Party" and have him out and in distractions working. If anyone is in, please let me know and I'll set it up. We need dogs that are already reliable to basic commands and could use the same help as Harry, the dreaded distractions! Email me if you want to join the party! Party details:

Harry Pooper Party
- Friday, September 4th
- 7:00 pm
- Craddock Park, Dallas
3300 Hawthorne Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75219

Bring your dog on a 6-foot leash with loads of yummy, yummy treats. We'll stay 30-60 minutes and see what we can do. It'll be fun. If anyone has any fun stuff to add to it (like agility jumps, tunnels or weaves) then bring those along! We will also do some fun tricks too!

Here is Harry at his best. He likes to zoom about at times in my yard! You can see that Amos (my Great Dane) isn't impressed or inclined to join in!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Microchips Work . . .

Here is a very good reason to microchip your dog . . . and as I type I realize what a hypocrite that makes me. I need to chip my dogs!! However they do wear identification at all times! Also remember I do love and recommend the Lucky Pet Tags and the 24PetWatch microchip system. There are often low-cost microchip clinics that offer microchipping for as low as $15/dog up to $20/dog. You can also have it done at any veterinarian's office as well as the SPCA.

Best Dog Trainer Ever.

This man is clearly an amazing dog trainer. I believe this may be in Germany, not sure but I know it's not in America. The video is 5 minutes but you have to see all of it to get all the true beauty of it! Enjoy!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Extreme Mutt Makeover: Part IV

Well here we are 3 weeks later and Harry has come a ways. He's still got some kinks he needs to work out but I think he's a pretty swell guy! He definitely has looks on his side and he's incredibly intelligent. He loves treats and works for them diligently.

His nipping is out of control, in my opinion as a dog trainer, but now I can see how it is to live with a dog that learned early on that hands are toys. I do belive this was what he was taught, intentionally? Probably not but it happened and he'd much rather chew your hand than a toy. Toys are pretty much of no interest, even with a squeaker in it. So we are working on this some.

The competition is just scaring me half to death. I'm so worried we'll just flop out there. To get him out and training in distractions has proven to be very challenging with my everyday life matters while also balancing working for a living!

We took Harry to Starbucks Sunday morning for a little outing and a coffee run. He did a nice sit-stay for me before we left so I could take this shot of him.

I've taken him biking as much as possible, just about everyday. He can go several miles, unlike my poor dogs. Well Noah can go a while but my other dogs can barely make the block without just being exhausted. Harry and I try several miles a day, when I can. He loves it.

Did I mention that I ended up purchasing the K9 Bike Jogger that I had advertised in a post a few weeks ago? Yes. I did get it. I love it! It is remarkable. Keeps the dog from going in front, back or into the bike wheel/your leg. It's just the best thing ever! It is also very difficult for the dog to pull you over on the bike. I was certain they could do that but even the 90-lb Golden Retriever I bike with 2 x a week can't do it, and did do it when I just held the leash and biked with him before! . . . and speaking of it's time for us to take a bike ride! Stay tuned for more on Harry's big adventures!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Extreme Mutt Makeover: Part III

Harry and I (and my trainer, Misty) went to Austin this past weekend to visit my mentor trainer, Lee Mannix. We had a great time and of course learned a lot, as usual! Harry had the best time of his life, I'm sure. He learned to swim in the Blanco River, go thru an agility tunnel, and meet goats.

We are coming along nicely but I still need to do work with him outside of my home, which is the difficult part. However, he did really well at Lee's place and there were tons of distractions there. His attention on me is increasingly well and he seems to be bonding to me. He's really going to make someone a great dog. He's insanely quick to learn and very calm and laid-back for such a young dog.

Here are a couple of videos from the weekend. First is the day we left. It was literally the first time he'd ever even seen a tunnel. The second is us having a nice evening on the river and Harry learned to swim across and back.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Extreme Mutt Makeover: Part II

Here we are, one week from the day I got Harry. Yes, this is the name we've decided on. Harry Pooper to be exact. I call him my "wizard dog" as he's quite bright and proving to be very fun to work with. Challenging to say the least, as I know I got handed the youngest of all of them. I don't think they would have actually given him to me if they actually knew how young he actually is. He's between 5-6 months just due to his immature adult teeth and puppy antics that he displays daily.

I'm having loads of fun with him (I already said that didn't I?) and trying to think of what we will do for our huge routine for the competition. I will be doing 3 competitions, well 2 with the possibility of a 3rd if I make it in the top 3.

He's definitely smart. He'll pick up something in a matter of a few repetitions and then he seems to be pretty reliable with it. He's learned sit, down, stay, come and walk on leash already and just today he began to offer his paw on command (like for "shake").

He's definitely not potty trained, although I'm actually questioning if he may have a urinary tract infection or something related as he's urinating very frequently. I've cleaned up a wet crate every morning for the past couple of days and my living room rug has been shampooed three times now. I now have him tethered to me so that he cannot get out of my site for one second. He doesn't even seem to appear like he's going to go potty and then he just does it! I'm going to watch him for a few days and see if this is behavior related or possibly medical.

Here is a video I took of him from Friday.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Extreme Mutt Makeover: Part I

Well today I got my dog. My wonderful trainer, Misty, came to the house around 9am and we headed out. It was pouring down rain as we launched the seats in my Honda Element to the sides of the car (they fold upward in my car to leave cargo space); we toweled off and headed to the Humane Society of North Texas in Fort Worth to see what dog I was going to be paired with for my Extreme Mutt Makeover.

We arrived and all 10 other trainers were there and we all gathered in a garage-type area in the back of the shelter, dripping down sweat as the clouds rolled by and the sun came out to play. This event is going to be one whopper and I'm more excited than a kid in a candy store! We have our dogs for 6 weeks and we have to train them for obedience and then anything else we want to show off at the final competition. They said last year they sold 4,000 tickets and we'll be in a 50 x 50 arena for our judging and competitions--yipes! I'm a little nervous . . . .

Apparently since 2007 they have been doing this Mustang Makeover (more on that here) where they literally take wild mustangs from goverment land and train them over 100 days and then have a huge competition with the winner receivng $25K. The horses are then adoptable. If they were not trained they would spend their lives in a pen and as a woman said to me today, "A wild mustang is better off dead than trapped in a pen." I'm not a horse person, while I'd love to be one I'm just not educated on the magnificent animals because I've never had the honor of being around them to be able to learn more or even know how to train them. I'd love that, I think it'd be great. Here is the video of the winner of 2008's Mustang Makeover. Just remember this was a wild mustang running free on open-land with no human contact just 100 days before this . . .

The group of dogs we were paired with were all evaluated by the staff and tested for being good with humans, other dogs and not aggressive in any way. The dogs simply are homeless and need training. They don't have what a trainer would label as a "problem" other than owners that didn't take the time to train them and give them what they deserve. We are going to do that for these dogs and I'm very happy to be part of it!

We had a lottery drawing and picked a number and 10 dogs were already pre-numbered. I picked #3 and got this darling fuzzy mutt of a dog. We really have no clue what he is but I think he's one of the youngest of the bunch. I'm guessing he's no more than 6 months old but his paperwork says 8 months. Here is a slideshow of the morning.

He was named by the shelter ("Pancho") but they said we could name the dogs something else if we wanted so I'm going to have a fun little contest to let people jump in to see if we can't come up with a cute name for this guy! So email me here and tell me one name or a hundred that you have thought of to name this guy, the sky is the limit. The person whose name we choose will get $15 off their next dog training service (sorry won't apply to aggression cases). Here are some photos of him and he's about 45-lbs, spunky, mouthy, jumpy and vocal. He barks to let you know he's ready to play and to get your attention. So based off of that you can use your creativity! Thanks and have fun!