Thursday, July 06, 2006

photos, training and stuff

Lotsa stuff tonight! :-)

First, I have to share some neat photos I took the other day of the dogs and then some of the kidlet. Both the dogs and the child were going a bit stir-crazy and so in the interests of me not going just plain crazy, I bundled everyone up
and headed out to our local dogs-off-lead park to let the four-leggers burn off some steam. 'Natch I also took my camera and grabbed a few shots. ;-)

This one is Sierra on the same rock Cade was sitting on except she was hot from running even though it's mildly chilly out, so she
frog-dogged her belly on the rock (um, non-doggy translation: she spread her hips out in a frog-like position) but kept her elbows on the ground! What a nutter! LOL

And this is a much more typical shot of the fuzzy red dog! LOL These were shot on my FZ30 at ISO 200, F3.2 and 3.6, 1/250 and 1/320 for anyone interested. I'm still trying to learn all the technical aspects of photography!

Okay and a few of my very, very adorable super cute wonderful precious much-loved baby:

Cheeky little fellow isn't he? Okay, now for the story:

The park is somewhere we go quite often and we usually try to aim for a quiet time of day as an 8 month old and two hooligan dogs is enough to keep anyone occupied without reems of distractions. Unfortunately yesterday I *missed*. It was quiet for 5 minutes after I arrived. Then 2 sets of sports teams out for practice and every grandma and grandpa in a 5 K radius arrived with a fluffy yapper off lead! I knew it was asking a bit much of them, we haven't proofed for that level of distraction when I've got the two dogs together. If I were smart, I probably would have turned around but I come by my blond honestly so we simply tried to go to the furthest paddock and stay away out of everyones way because the dogs were SO hyper they'd have exploded if I tried to put them back in the car before they got to run.

For the most part, we did pretty good. There were little fuzzy dogs running around and Cade alerted but stood-down and worked with me every time and was well rewarded for his good behaviour! But we did have two incidents.

Problem one: I'd been watching where other dogs coming our way were but a Cockapoo (off-lead) came barreling at us from a blind-corner across the field while granny and grandpa attempted to call him back. Crap! We'd been doing SO good at having them ignore other dogs and this clueless fluffball was going to ruin it! *whine* I really hate it when people think it's perfectly fine to let little fluffy-kins charge someone else... especially when I'm the someone else!

Sure enough, Clueless barreled up, skidded to a halt in front of Sierra and Cade wiggling and
bouncing on them in his glee, his gran and pa calling him all the while. Clueless playbowed, Cade turned away clearly assessing him as an ill-mannered lout he wanted nothing to do with. Sierra responded though. Sierra loves to play and whomped him back. I didn't want this to turn into a free-for-all so I said "Si down!" which she did while Clueless bounded around her head playbowing till Sierra broke position. (Training failure.) Cade took this (tenseness in my voice) as his fun police signal to enforce my wishes and dashed from where he was at my side to the two of them. I could just see this sort of shift when Cade turned and chased after Clueless and he and Si shifted into pack mode, tag-teaming him. Cade went after him, Si joined in only instead of chasing him she was trying to go to his head and herd him... going to head and trying to drive him back toward me. Clueless really wasn't sure what he'd gotten himself into by this point, one chasing him, one herding him but both of them tag teaming... he wanted to play but his body language was less confident and a bit uncertain, it looked to me like he was about to get a clue to tone it down a bit. I might have let them teach it but didn't want his owners to get upset so I was calling it to a halt.

ICK! This happened in um... four seconds or so? Bad planning, bad reaction on my part (should have placed them into downs when I saw Clueless break away from mum and dad and shooed him off with my Mean Human impression before he ever got to them), shouldn't have placed them in that situation, crap, crap, CRAP. "Sierra down! Cade, leave him!" Darn it! Clueless still refused to return to mum and dad and was dancing around in playbows inviting them to play, so I held onto the little bugger until they came to collect him. *sigh*

After I felt pretty crappy for not having managed stuff better and also annoyed at granny and pa for letting Clueless be off-lead without a decent recall in the first place. I took them to the far corner to chill myself out for a few and we worked on some attention stuff. Then I gathered up the child and the dogs and started heading back avoiding the sports teams. Except apparently there is this one kid in our direct path, no way to avoid him, kicking a soccer ball. Aw nuts. How'd I miss that?! Cade is a sight-hound so chasing movement is a big thing for him anyway but he LOVES playing soccer! We actually used to do it as a game, he blocks and kicks and everything. I just KNOW where this is going. The kid thinks it's a hoot and is scooting the ball around with Cade who thinks this is wonnnnderful! I finally catch Cade's attention, snap his lead on and leave. *SIGH*

:::tattoos my forehead with the mantra, "I willl NOT ask my dogs for more than I've trained them for or put them in situations I know they can't handle!":::

They did PRETTY darn well for the level of distractions and I'm proud for the bits they shone in. BUT they never should have been put into that situation and I should have been paying more attention. I guess it really highlighted to me how much I need to work on getting control at that level of distraction and being more aware of a couple of things. One of which is that the two of them together will create a pack mentality, which isn't a good thing or a bad thing, just something to remember because I have to deal with them differently than if I were just dealing with one or the other.

My biggest challenge is Cade thinks it's his job to be the fun police and he's had a bad incident where he was jumped by two large off-lead dogs which left him a bit nervy about dogs acting like that. I've worked with him a lot and he's come a loonng way.
He'll still alert to dogs he thinks are acting wild - ears perk, body tenses, whiskers poof and mutter a soft "ruuuu" under his breath but I can interrupt the behaviour and say, "I see, but it's not our business", he's okay. He'll keep an eyeball on them periodically but he will stay with me nicely and we can start working on sits, downs, stays, eye contact etc. with good focus. If I miss it, he'll either "ruuuuu" again louder and dash or just dash off. When he gets there it's just some tense butt sniffing, nothing horrid, but again, I don't like him dashing off and I could see the behaviour escalating with time into something less benign.

The only time this doesn't work is if the other dog is an idjit and comes barreling at us like the aforementioned friendly-but-socially-clueless cockapoo. (Barreling straight at another dog and getting in their face is rude, just the same as if I dashed up to a strangerand glommed onto them. I might be being friendly and harmless but unless I've got a mental handicap that prevents me from understanding, it's friggin' rude and inappropriate. Unfortunately, you see this a lot with pet dogs who haven't learned doggy-social-graces!)

Which brings me to a whine: WHY oh WHY is it that whenever someone sees me call my dogs over, put them into down-stays and OBVIOUSLY try to keep my dogs AWAY from them/their dog they seem to need to come over and stare and tempt my dogs to break the stay??? Seriously. I want to know what thought process makes that seem a good idea? And why is it these people find it a good idea to let their little dog (it's ALWAYS a little dog, I'm not prejudiced against toy breeds but how come these people always have a shitypoo malti/chi/yorka/cocka/pomapoo?) crawl on mine. One lady even let her aggressive little terror attack Sierra in the down-stay and HANG OFF HER JOWLS GROWLING while Sierra just gave me this look, like "what's this thing's issue?". I actually had to kick it to dislodge it as it's owner assured me IT WAS FRIENDLY! WTF!!! And last but not least why do these idiots ALWAYS have their little dogs either off-lead or on a flexi???

Nifty idea...
On one of the training lists I'm on, a rather shy dog managed to escape and luckily was able to be caught without incident. This spawned a conversation which was really awesome but one particular tangent of it was that a neat trick to train is to teach the dog to put it's own collar on. IOW owner holds to collar out in an "O" and the dog sticks it's head in. Simple enough to shape, useful as anything with a dog who might decide to play keep-away otherwise... give them a fun and rewarding trick to do instead of thinking they're going to get captured and the fun is going to come to an end. Cool! Off we went a clickin'! I shaped Sierra to put her nose through the collar up to her eye level so far but not pushing it past her ears yet. Cute trick!

Oh, unrelated to training or dogs or my photographs, one of DH's work-mates runs a really cool collage service he's just started. Go check it out, it's SOOOOO COOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Visual Opus is the site.


Shae said...

I hear you with the little dog off lead scene!! Lola (greyhoundx) loves to run with other dogs and has selective hearing in these situations. But she was attacked by a littlie and when I used my shoe to (gently) push the littie off Lola's face the owner came screaming at me! "dooon't huuuurt my dooog!!!!" WTF? While my poor poochie was bleeding and crying.

katef said...

I have never owned a dog but even I can see the problem you speak about at our local park.. where gran and granpa have a small yappy dog off the lead that runs up to my girls barking and jumping and totally freaks them out. Here am I trying to teach my girls how to behave around animals and these people don't seem to think it is an issue! It is lack of training on the humans part I reckon!