Who's a Good Dog?

Dog Trick Geeks

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Grades are in, graduation has come and gone, and even though I still have a couple reports to write and meetings to attend (and although my CWP responsibilities continue all summer), I am looking forward to the somewhat slower pace of the next few months. As any academic will tell you, we don’t get the summer “off,” but for some of us it does mean a break from teaching and so more time for other kinds of intellectual work. For me it also means more time for activities that, while they don’t qualify as academic work, keep me balanced–e.g. gardening, yoga, dog training.

I’ve been putting in a lot of hours in the garden lately–trying to get everything in and, at the Community Garden, set things up so that I’m ahead of the weeds. I’m keeping a photo log of garden work here.

I have a long list of dog training stuff planned, but the first two projects (in addition to weekly Rally class) are (1) taking this online class and (2) making a video for the Dog Trick Geeks challenge on Facebook. I’ll write more about the online class after it begins (on June 1). But if you like trick training with your dog then you should definitely check out the DTG group page and website. There are 6 levels of certification from “Dog Trick Geek” to “Supreme Geek.” The training is all force-free and in good fun (i.e., my kind of training).  Arlo and I have been working on our tricks for the first level.  For a preview, watch the video at the top of this post.

#16!

#16!

And finally, on the topic of dogs, if you’re friends with me on Facebook, you know that Katie was ranked #16 for 2013 in level 1 World Cynosport Rally. It was totally unexpected, and a very nice surprise. (It was so unexpected, I didn’t even look at the rankings when they first came out.) Kate has slowed down a bit in the past few months (she just turned 12), and we may need to retire from competition. But she has been the best partner I could ask for.


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Weekend Gardening Photo Essay

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Our plot at the community garden has expanded so much that it’s hard to capture the whole thing in one image (at least with my iPhone, which is all I had with me).  And even then, it doesn’t look that exciting at this point in the season.  But things are happening.  Here are some close-ups.

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Garlic.

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Strawberry patch.

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Asparagus.

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Rye grass cover crop, planted in the fall and turned over in the spring.

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Meanwhile back at home, we’ve got lots of lovely spring blooms…

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…and a happy dog.

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Fresh Start

New year, new blog.  I decided to move the Who’s a Good Dog blog over to WordPress.  I use WordPress a lot for school, and I’m more familiar with what it does and how it works.  My previous blog efforts can be found here and here.  And they’re also linked on the About page.

Mel and Em shaping the beginning of a pawstand.

Mel and Em shaping the beginning of a pawstand.

This past Saturday was a miserable, rainy day, but Arlo and I had the pleasure of spending it with some good friends at a workshop on shaping with Pam Dennison.  The workshop was held at Let’s Speak Dog, where Arlo, Katie and I have been training for awhile now.  Pam showed us how to teach a bunch of cool tricks like riding a skateboard (which Arlo was surprisingly keen to try), and doing a hand, er, pawtstand (which, because he’s so long-bodied, I didn’t ask him to try).  She also showed us how to teach a bunch of practical things like wipe your feet (which can be the beginning of teaching your dog to file his nails) and targeting various body parts (chin, cheek, shoulder, hip, etc.), which #1 is just cool, and #2 comes in handy when, for example, you’re grooming your dog or on a visit to the vet.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of Arlo and me training, but I did get one that I think is maybe more significant:  Arlo relaxing in his crate.  A workshop environment like yesterday’s is a hard place for Arlo to be.  He’s highly sensitive to his environment, and being in a room where a bunch of unfamiliar dogs are coming and going can quickly send him over threshold.  He alternates between wanting to greet dogs and worrying about them.  Properly introduced to unfamiliar dogs, he’s fine.  But in this situation that was just not possible, so I needed a plan (and thanks to Renee Hall our trainer and owner of LSD for helping me).

Arlo chilling in his crate.

Arlo chilling in his crate.

Another friend and I made arrangements to get to the workshop early and set up near the back door so that we could take breaks with our dogs as needed.  Like Arlo her dog needed somewhere to go if activity in the room became too overwhelming.  So, in between the torrential downpours that we were having yesterday, we were able to pop out, walk the dogs around, and then return.

And it worked like a charm.  Arlo was anxious at first, but eventually he settled down and even dozed off.  At one point, I was standing all the way across the room, and I could see him calmly looking out from his crate while other dogs were training.  I felt so proud.

In addition, when he was out of the crate and training, he was focused and–more importantly–having fun.  The last time we tried something like this was at a Treibball workshop a year ago where the unfamiliar dogs and the activity were just too much for him.  Yesterday wasn’t perfect, but for the most part he was focused and happy even when unfamiliar dogs were also working close by.