Maybe I should just state for the record that I will likely be going on hiatus for every winter for the rest of my life from blogging. Not because I don’t have the time, but because I generally spend the winter concentrating all of my energy on how much I hate the cold, ice, snow, darkness, and the world in general. Honestly you just don’t want to hear me whinge about that for four to six months, so it’s just as well I kept it to myself. But the snow is melting (knocks on wood), I can walk on the sidewalk without taking my life into my hands again (knocks on some more wood), and it’s light enough that I can start training outside after work again (knocks on yet more wood because I wouldn’t put it past the sun to disappear for a month or two just to spite me), and suddenly here I am again.
I suppose I was busy for the first month or so after I stopped posting here what with the new puppy, though thank my lucky stars he hasn’t ever really gotten into anything inside (I’m going to dent my desk if I keep knocking on it….is this real wood?). His resource guarding of toys is all but gone (he still gets protective his kong right after it has treats in it but not overly so, and he’s happy to play the trade-up game). He and Mu can even lick a plate clean at the same time without trying to eat each other’s face, which is nice. His only real issue at the moment is some extreme cigarette butt eating addiction, which is made worse by the fact that the ground seems to be COVERED in them where I live. It’s getting better but I still hate it, every time he does it I find myself wondering just how many cigarette butts he can eat before they either have to be surgically removed or give him cancer. Well, hopefully it’s a puppy phase he will outgrow, and honestly he could have worse habits.
Mufaasa is proving an interesting older brother to him. While the intense make-out sessions have lessened (which is fine, as I felt a bit like a voyeur in my own home), they actually play much nicer together—not getting overstimulated and taking breaks on their own. Also, after a surprisingly small amount of counter-conditioning Raafi now doesn’t leap across the living room whenever Mu picks up a toy (read: only two sessions of me marking and rewarding Raafi every time he looked at Mu with a toy was enough). On the other hand I would say Raafi has officially lost his puppy license. When playing Mu’s been putting the screws to him a bit more, but most interestingly if Raafi starts barking at another dog (which he only tends to do with dogs he meets in our building, and only hyperactive dogs that are moving around too much for his GSD control freak brain to handle) Mu will correct Raafi instead of joining in as most dogs would do. As Mu hits maturity (he’ll be three in a few months, which blows my mind) I find he’s becoming a bit more protective and proactive about how he meets approaching dogs. Nothing I would call aggressive, but he lets me know which dogs to avoid on our walks, which isn’t such a bad thing. He’ll leap and bark if I don’t notice first and I’ve just been putting some distance between us and the approaching dog and either body blocking Mu as the dog goes past or work on getting Mu to focus on me as the dog goes by. Both seem to be reaching him, which is nice because while I like the warning, I would appreciate even more if he didn’t ripe my arm out of the socket every time a dog he doesn’t like comes by. I also remember that he started doing this same thing last winter and the behaviour all but disappear so I think it’s linked to an increase in activity, which soon won’t be an issue.
On the agility front Raafi is basically a puppy prodigy. He has amazing rear-end awareness for his age, learns most stuff in a few repetitions, is sooooo easy to shape, has a crazy work ethic, and is becoming increasingly bold with agility exercises. We’ve started more advanced agility classes and half the time he’s the one doing the demo for the rest of the class (I also have to get used to being in class with people who aren’t familiar with agility again. As aggravatingly slow as it feels to watch them go through the exercises, I know I did the same thing when I first started). We’re starting weaves as soon as I get some metal bases made, and he’s one dog who I think I can actually do the 2×2 training in 12 days like Susan Garrett claims (Mu took about 4-6 months, and frankly we need to go back and improve his entrances because they’re kind of sloppy). And thanks to the weather improving enough to train outside again, and picking up the new Silvia Trkman foundation training DVD, I am incredibly psyched to get started with more serious training.
Since I couldn’t get outside I did the crazy thing and moved my living room into my tiny second bedroom and turned the original living room into a training area. I got some of the no slip clicker mates from Walmart on sale for $9.99 a package, and I might pick up a few more, though I don’t think I’ll need them as much until next fall. Mu, contrary dog that he is, actually got worse when I tried to practice over equipment inside, so he was actually better off only practicing once a week or not at all the few times we got out to the barn than learning bad habits inside. It did, of course, take me most of the winter being frustrated with him to figure that out—which is the problem with a stubborn human owning a clown of a dog. We did still do some trick training inside to keep his brain fresh though, and Raafi was more than happy to work inside. Here are a few videos.
First up is Raafi working some Susan Salo grids. He’s still only 9-10 months old so nothing is above 10 inches. I think he’ll be jumping 26″ by the time he competes, and frankly I think he’ll do it with ease. His natural jumping form is GORGEOUS.
The next is just working on some basics. Hind-end awareness, forward focus over jumps, cik-cap, touching a paw to a plate, all four in a box (he’s already moved on to a smaller box), and the beginnings of sit-pretty and spin. And a little bit of Mu at the end, because yes, I still pay attention to him!
Next up I’ll trying and update with Mu’s running contact progress. We’ve been trying to train it all winter but dragging the trainer outside, having enough light, and having an area not covered in ice all at the same time kinda slowed us down. Hopefully I’ll have more progress to show you soon. Also we have a fun show this weekend and our first trial of the year at the end of the month, so there will be lots to report on!