Whew! What A Week of Dog Rehab!

This week has been the week of 4legged rehab. Between vet visits for Magnus leg and Maizey’s anxiety we have spent the whole week working on getting them feeling better.

Magnus leg got really bad a week ago last Thursday. I got him into a different vet at the same clinic on Monday and after narrowing it down to a soft tissue injury the vet put him on complete rest. This is the go outside to potty, come back in, can’t even train, or go to class last week, yes his head is exploding with energy type of rest. He also started him on an anti-inflammatory. I’m unsure of why they didn’t do that earlier since it seems to have really helped.

The ban on all movement really put a cramp in our training since all we can train is non-movement related things. Their mat work has had a serious workout,we’ve done stays and tons of targeting. I finally broke down tonight and worked some simple spins and twirls, and in desperation let him slowly follow the target stick. He thinks that game is great. The rest he’s a bit bored with and honestly so am I.

I’m so glad to see improvement in him, if he keeps getting better we can start doing a little on Tuesday, after his week of enforced laying around is over. It will be slow going to get back to normal. For the first week he’ll still be cleared for only half, yes I said HALF, a mile per day walking. I swear when we walk that short of a distance he just thinks I’m crazy. I start for home and he starts dragging, walking slower and slower, like, “Are you kidding me?!? We are NOT done with our walk yet!”

Before out enforced laziness of the last week I was letting all of our walks be “follow your nose” walks. He just sniffs his way around and I follow him where ever he goes. It’s incredibly fun for him, but incredibly boring for me, but since we could only walk around the block it’s not like it’s roaring fun for me anyways and I figure one of us may as well enjoy ourselves. Needless to say our Walking Challenge miles are in sad shape.

I went to Tricks class without him on Thursday night. It’s really strange feeling to go to dog class without your dog. I felt naked! Our instructor is great and said I could work one of her dogs. They are all super smart and so well trained! I was like, “Sure I’ll work one of your wonder dogs, no pressure there at all!” But it was really fun working her little black poodle and now at least I’m not a week behind even if I couldn’t teach magnus what I learned.

He was so happy yesterday when he finally got to leave the yard for the first time in 4 days. I took him to get a massage. (Do you know there are people out there who actually have dogs that stay home all the time? I was trying to think of the last time I went four days without taking a dog somewhere, then I realized I’m probably the abnormal one as most dogs do stay home most of the time, just not my dogs.)

Ah, but I digress, so I took him out to get a massage. (There’s another funny digression, try telling your non-dog friends you can’t go to lunch with them ’cause your dog is getting a massage. Their reaction is really funny!) Anyways. . . the massage was very interesting! I went to a mini-seminar to explain the benefits of Acu-massage on Thursday night and then took Magnus for an hour of work on Friday.

Anita has a really thorough way of looking at the whole picture. She combines knowledge of chinese medicine and acupressure with massage. She showed me how to do a full range of motion on Magnus leg to help build back the muscle that has already atrophied. She also suggested use of ice, another thing I don’t know why I didn’t think of before. Then she showed me a couple of acupressure points to work on to help restore circulation.

Hopefully combining all of that will have my boy back to normal soon!

The news on the Maizey front is a post all its own. She’s doing okay and when I ever sort through all the opinions I’m getting about how to treat her anxiety I’ll let you all know what we narrow down.

For now it’s time for Magnus’ second session with an ice pack and then off to bed!

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Tricky Magnus Learns To Roll the Ball

Magnus has had two weeks of tricks class. We are really enjoying it.

“Whether he’s young or old, athletic or lazy, quick-witted or dumb as a rock—he’s YOUR dog, and his success need only be measured in YOUR eyes.”-Kyra Sundance

Week one was a lot of basics for Magnus and I, but what I’m really loving is how much our relationship has grown since our last class. His focus is better. His attention span is better. He is working more for the fun of working not just to get paid. And the biggest surprise of all, I actually seem to have some value to him!

Week two we started working on some more complex tricks. In these clips you see us working on him learning to roll the ball with his front feet.

This one is his second session:

This one is his third session:

So what do I learn from these clips?

I have a long way to go in my handling skills. I think he’s doing great, but videos of my training always show me all my mistakes. Which is good since that way I can hopefully learn better habits, but it sure is humbling!

I see is a lot room for improvement in the mechanics of my training. I think I know quite a bit of training theory. It fascinates me and I spend tons of time reading and trying to learn about it, but when it comes to actually practicing the mechanics of the theory I lack experience.

Sometimes I think the simplest mechanics of training don’t always get covered in classes. Maybe it’s because people want to cover the more complex things that have more bang for your buck. I mean do you want to know how to hold your clicker or learn a new trick?

Something that simple may seem obvious, but when our instructor showed me to loop my clicker around my hand, not my wrist, my reinforcement rate went up. I was more comfortable and had more control of my equipment. A very simple change, but one that made a big difference in the mechanics of my training.

Another example: In the video I can see the way I’m holding my treat hand is awkward. It didn’t feel awkward, but I can see I can improve my reinforcement rate if I adjust how I’m delivering treats.

I could go on and on with what needs to improve, things like not working past when he’s “in the game”. How and when I set the ball down to improve his success. Where I place my legs, since it looks like I’m bracing the ball on my foot when I’m not.

Like I said, I could go on and on, but my favorite thing I see is best summed up by Kyra Sundance when she said, “Whether he’s young or old, athletic or lazy, quick-witted or dumb as a rock—he’s YOUR dog, and his success need only be measured in YOUR eyes.”

In my eyes, that’s one smart, cute, fun, successful puppy!

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