“Mind Your Manners!”

“Mind your manners!”

How many of us grew up hearing those words? I’m sure we all had a magic word that made what we wanted happen. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way to good relationships. Simple things pave the way for peace and harmony in community.

These simple things so often get ignored in society and not just by the 2legged members either. Manners are a vital part of having a 4legged friend that’s a good member of society too.

Manners have always been high on my priority list with my dogs. Unfortunately it’s easy to get distracted by the flashier and fancier tricks in dog training. That’s happened with me and Magnus.

My boy turned one last month and we’ve learned a lot in his first year but I’m noticing he really needs some “back to basics” work. I’ve neglected some of what I consider to be foundation behaviors for a good pet. He has a good start on almost everything I think he needs to know, but it all needs a bit of polishing.

There are several areas I think we need to focus on, some of which would be taken care of if we got his CGC, which was one of my original goals. All of which we’d accomplish just by working Training Levels.

Greetings and Door Manners
Greetings are one place we need some major improvement. Especially when my mom, Charley and Chloe come over he gets way too excited. When a knock on the door is the cue to jump, bark and run around like a maniac you need some manners work. This is a bit of a logistical problem for me since as a self confirmed hermit I rarely have people over. Yet another 4legged lesson: Dogs make you get out of your shell.

I like the video below on how to keep dogs calm when people come over. It sets the dogs up for success even if the humans don’t cooperate with the plan. I often find I have an easier time communicating with my 4legged friends what needs done for success than with my 2legged ones and by putting the dog behind an x-pen it creates a physical cue to the humans that training is going on.

I also need to make my greetings much calmer. The challenge for me is that when the dogs run out so excited to see me and want to smother me in Cavalier hugs and kisses it’s hard to resist! Looks like I’m going to have to practice some greeting zen for myself too!

Door manners are also on my list. I’ve always taught the dogs to wait to go through the door until released. I still like that method, but I’m adding another element our trainer showed me. So instead of the dogs sitting, waiting and then when released bursting through the door and go on their merry way the criteria is now for them to sit until released then reorient to me. This applies to gates and cars too.

A combined element to door manners and greetings is that I want a solid park it on their mats when I open the door. All of this is covered in Training Levels, so if I get busy on those these things will come. Relaxation Protocol helps with this too.

Crate Manners
Both my dogs crate fine, but Magnus has trained a bad habit into me with crating. Maizey gallops into her crate just fine. Magnus on the other hand has decided he only has to get in bed if I have the treat already in my hand for him. SIGH! How did I let that happen? It was one of those subtle things that developed over time and I didn’t even notice until this week.

The solution? First I need to leave more time when leaving to put him to bed. If I’m in a hurry instead of actually training I tend to resort to “Okay I’ve got your treat now hurry up.” I’m going to work through Crate Games with him to get that eagerness to load up back.

Relaxation Protocol
I’ve come to the conclusion every dog can benefit from RP. Magnus and I have worked through three days. I have video, but I figured you were all getting sick of RP video so I haven’t posted it. I may put it on youtube eventually. If you’re dying to see it let me know and I’l upload it for sure.

Maizey spoiled me as far as grooming and handling’s concerned since she’s at “Level 33″ with handling. Magnus is the exact opposite of her when it comes to handling. He’s never loved being groomed, but this last month with is limp he’s really got the best of me.

He submits, but he doesn’t love it. I know he’s probably not ever going to love being groomed, but I need him to at least cooperate. Today I actually took him to a groomer to have him cleaned up. Neither if my dogs has ever been a groomer, and I found one I felt confident leaving him with. I’d still rather groom him myself so I’m adding handling to the “mind your manners” list. This is another thing that will be taken care of by working the levels.

All this manners work means we aren’t going to be doing classes for a while. I’m taking it back to basics with him and hopefully that will set us up for more success when we get back to classes!


Magnus is an AKC S.T.A.R. and Maizey Will Soon Be a Petite Pal

I always read these succinct, short, to the point blogs that are so easy to get the news you want without wading through extraneous fluff you really don’t care about.

Then I read mine. . .

So, I am going to endeavor to keep this short, which should be difficult since I haven’t kept up on the news around here lately.

I promise to do my best.

Monday, February 28, 2011 Magnus took and passed his AKC S.T.A.R. puppy test! Enter a proud Crazymomlady moment when his instructor said, “He’s almost ready for his CGC.”

Now that he is officially a S.T.A.R. and my life is trying to resume some sort of normalcy (whatever that is) he’s starting back to Agility For Fun class. On March 24th we will join one of our favorite instructors, Astrid, for the last 4 classes which we missed due to “real life” getting in our way the first time.

Since the instructors at Calling All Dogs are so wonderful they have agreed to help me work Maizey through the Petite Pals class there on Saturdays. She starts on March 12th.

Yes, this means I am officially insane, as both dogs will be in different classes on different days. Something I swore I would never do. However my Notsocrazymomlady is taking Chloe to that class and when Nicole heard the progress Maizey is making both she and Michelle, the instructor of Petite Pals felt it was worth a try to see how my Princess Of The Shrill Bark would handle it.

I will take it week by week and have their assurance they will help me monitor her stress levels and if it’s not a fit for her we will adjust accordingly.

In Steps to Success news Maizey has completed 38 of the L2 steps. Magnus is close behind with 29 steps complete. With our weeks filled up with classes we will be taking a bit of a hiatus from the levels until Sue releases the new book. (Which we are hoping and praying and wishing and begging will be soon!)

There! How did I do? Succinct enough? Oh wait. . . I forgot to update about Maizey’s persistent Blepharitis, Corneal Dystrophy and Distichiasis. Then there’s the Walking Challenge, my new obsession with making leather leashes and the perfect treat bags.

I can’t forget to at least mention the great honor Magnus had of being named one of the naughtiest dogs at Embee Cavaliers! A great thanks to Mary Beth for including him!

Most important of all I need to come up with a registered name for Magnus’ AKC PAL#!

Goodness, this being succinct thing is hard. Oh well, I guess I will have to get caught up on a night when it’s not already 12:15a.m.

In the mean time why don’t you help me out by coming up with a clever AKC registered name which includes the words: Magnus, Magnificent, and Moments. Who knows one of you could have the honor of giving Magnus The AKC S.T.A.R. his registered name!

(Don’t worry if you’re drawing a blank my next post is about the confusing world of AKC Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege and should make you all as confused as I am!)

Okay, Okay, I wasn’t short and to the point at all, again. All I can do is beg your mercy and hope you’ll keep putting up with my long windedness since I value your input so much!


Walking Challenge 2011

My first walking challenge was 30 miles in 30 days. There were some really special walks in that first challenge. Actually I hardly remember a walk with my 4legged friends that wasn’t special in some way.

Sure we got tired sometimes, but challenging myself really got me moving after Maizey’s surgeries. As I already freely admitted to being a self confirmed energy hoarding sloth walking the dogs as much as I should can be a challenge in itself. I find that committing to a certain number of miles really forces me to get out there on the days when I otherwise may find an excuse not to.

So no more excuses! This year the challenge doesn’t end! Walking Challenge 2011 is on!

A year long challenge may sound daunting, but we all agree exercise for  our pups is a year round priority. Okay, it’s true, exercise for me should be a year round priority too. So a year long challenge makes a lot of sense.

I found in a 30 day challenge if I got behind in my miles it was hard to catch up so a year long challenge is more flexible. Weather, health, work, family or anything else distract us from getting out there with our pups, but in a year there is time to catch up. Time to plan ahead for some extra miles on some days, or a special training walk on others. In a year “real life” won’t derail my challenge, I can always catch up when the day isn’t so ‘rainy’.

The rules are: there are no rules. I do these challenges for myself, but find if we have support cheering us on it helps us get out there even more.

I call it a walking challenge, but it doesn’t have to be walking: biking, swimming, skateboarding, surfing, running, crawling-whatever floats your boat, as long as it is activity with your 4legged friend is fine by me.

Joining is simple, just leave me a comment in any post or email me privately and I will add you to the list in the 2011 Walking Challenge sidebar widget. Then when you complete miles leave them in a comment or email them and I will update the list.

Now I am open to suggestions here, but I was thinking I would do a regular post about the challenge, perhaps monthly, or even bi-monthly if there is enough support. If you have a blog and do a walking challenge post I will link to your post so we can all get revved up by each others progress. Perhaps you need suggestions on what to do, or perhaps you have some suggestions for the rest of us, if so post those on your blog or in a comment here so we can all support each other.

As far as miles go feel free to set your own bar. I chose 365 for the simple reason it is just a mile a day, but I know I don’t walk my pups everyday and rarely for just a mile. It made sense to set the goal as something easily achievable, I can always do more! So set what works for you. If you want I can list your personal goal with your progress.

I think we can all think of those special walks we had with our 4legged friends. The peaceful ones, the one with a training triumph, the sunrise or sunset that was stunningly beautiful. Perhaps it was that special location or a personal triumph that made it memorable, but whatever the reason it was having our 4legged friend there that made it all better.

So lets get out there! Lets make 2011 the year we look back on with many more fond memories of active time spent with our pups!

From a recent walk in the snow


Post 150: A New Year is Upon Us

I have never laid out my goals for my 4legged friends in a yearly format. But this is the year. Yesterday, January 1, 2011 started 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days of organized lessons from and for my dogs.

Magnus is now five and half months old, his life has barely begun but he has come so far. Where will he be one year from today? I guess we will all have to keep reading to find out! But I have some ideas.

As for my Maizey MayMay. . . my little girl is not so little anymore. She is growing into my new Meeka. The pup of the flock that always does the right thing the first time, that knows and understands the most. It is a beautiful thing and yet in some ways I miss my flighty girl of a year ago.

Just think in eight days she will be two years old! I can’t imagine how time has flown that way. So where will she be 365 days from now. Of course I have some plans.

My goals will be laid out in quarters. Each quarter will have a theme, or a prominent aspect each pup will work on. There will be supplemental plans and projects interspersed with the quarterly goals. As always I reserve the right to change, adjust, or just plain trash any goal that isn’t working for us. My title isn’t administrator for nothing you know!

Each pup will continue to have their own Daily Life page with a specific goal layout for the year. Updates will be given as quarterly posts on the first of each quarter. Reviews will be given periodically through out the months.

But enough with the small print, lets get on with the fun stuff!

What will the Lessons From and For 4 Legs be for 2011?

The new Training Levels, Steps to Success, will continue to be our main curriculum. But also look for more tricks, CGC work, Rally Obedience, and hopefully new classes through out the year.

The big announcement is the new and improved Walking Challenge. Instead of an occasional monthly challenge I am taking the plunge and doing the first annual 365 miles in 365 days Walking Challenge. The rules are the same-there are no rules. If you want to join us you can ride, skate, walk, swim, run or crawl through the miles and we will have all year to do it! As always I will record all our progress. Look for more details soon!

In the reactivity arena Maizey and I are going to work on Relaxation Protocol, Leslie Mcdevitts’ Control Unleashed and I really hope to learn enough to use BAT with her. However, I am not going to focus to exclusively on reactive work. Last year I bogged us both down by training only that too much, and this year I want to bring the lightness and joy back to her lessons.

There are other plans in the making, but for a first quarter summary just check out Maizey’s Training Adventures and Magnus’ Training Adventures pages.

"Look out 2011 here we come!"


Updates and Other Miscellaneous News

After all of the wonderful encouragement you all gave me in your comments after my string of that kind of days several changes happened. Some I chose, some that were just necessity. So an update seems in order.

Some of you may know I had the exciting privilege to write a guest post for Fearfuldogs Blog. I want to thank Debbie Jacobs for giving me the opportunity to share Maizey’s story on her blog. It is a wonderfully written and informative blog and I was honored to have a share in it. If you haven’t read it before it is well worth a regular read.

In other blog related news I updated our Who We Are page. It took me a while because it meant changing Meeka’s information and I just haven’t been able to face that. But I hadn’t added Magnus and he certainly deserves some explanation! Keep an eye out on that page as I hope to add a page with the story of each of my 4legged friends in the near future.

Many are already following our story using the Google Friend Connect Followers widget. For all you google, blogger and blogspot users I hope this is a good way to keep up with the blog.

Now you can also follow with through Networked Blogs using your Facebook profile. If you have a blog and a are part of Facebook Networked Blogs is a really cool tool to connect with other bloggers. I have thus far stayed off Facebook and Twitter, but am considering adding FB and Twitter like/share buttons. Do you regular readers find that helpful or fun to use those sites in your blogging?

In training news changes are also happening. Due to unexpected scheduling conflicts I had to postpone finishing Magnus’ Agility for Fun class. I am disappointed, but it is the best choice for the whole family right now.

Thankfully Astrid and the other wonderful trainers at Calling All Dogs are going to let us make up our last four classes the next time the class is available. I really want to say a special thanks to all of them, I am so glad we found such a great place, with generous trainers to work with.

In the meantime I am going to refocus on polishing up the new Training Levels. Maizey has completed level one and is mostly done with level two. Magnus will be finishing up level one and starting level two. I hope to do video’s of them both, but with all the “real life” I have going on around here I am not making promises on that one.

Generally our life, like many of yours, is a roller coaster ride, but even roller coasters have their thrills. Especially when it comes to the dogs the thrills keep rolling in, even if I do have to adjust my expectations and plans. So as the next year rolls around it will be fun to see what it brings in ups and downs, to share it with you all, and to read all of your stories of progress.


The Issue of Puppy Class

I know I have mentioned before that I feel puppy class was one cause of many of Maizey’s reactive issues. And since I think I can teach the basic puppy class skills at home I thought I could focus on socialization enough that I wasn’t going to take Magnus to a puppy class.

I really feel like dog classes should be about training humans to train dogs. So while I can think of masses of things that a class could teach me, I am not so sure puppy class is the one that I have the most to learn from.

Much of puppy class is about socialization and play time is part of that. But I am terrified of play time now, it did Maizey so much damage. So depending on what puppies were in the class there is a chance I would not even let him do the play time part. Plus I do feel I am giving him enough play time with other dogs that play time is not that critical.

Unfortunately as much as none of us wants it to be a consideration funds are an issue. I have only so many dollars to spend on the dogs and I want them to go to the best purpose possible.

So with all that in mind I thought my mind was made up. But then I read about Henry’s first puppy class and it got me thinking. Am I depriving Magnus of a valuable learning experience?

There is no doubt in my mind Henry is getting the possible education at home. Better than my pups get by a long ways! But the lessons Henry learned at his first puppy class are some that I am not sure I am providing Magnus.

There is such value in a dog learning HOW to learn in that busy environment. Is there ways I can provide this at home? Maybe. I can do more formal learning on our socialization outings. But is that enough?

And so the questions continue!

What about you? Did you do a puppy class? What benefits did you feel it provided for your 4legged puppy? What benefit did you find for yourself as handler? What would you recommend in looking for a new puppy class? Are you pro puppy class or do you feel you can provide similar lessons at home? If you do, how?

Please lend me the value of your experience so I can quit feeling indecisive! (Oh ya and if not for me then please do so for Magnus, he is already handlercapped as it is!)


Training Levels Progress

Sue Ailsby is reworking the Training Levels. While the new book is not yet released, she has generously put the outline of the new Steps To Success on her website.

There are now only four levels, but each level has five steps per behavior that must be passed. Of course I am a firm believer in the old levels, but so far I am finding the new levels much easier to follow, and very practical.

I decided to start Maizey over on the new levels, mainly to expose any holes in her training. And did we ever find some! L1 Sit, Step 4 was the biggest hold up for us. It states, “Dog sits by open door.” Simple enough, huh?

Sure unless you’ve been a lazy crazymomlady and let the little Turbo spend the first almost two years of her life turboing out the open door!

However after just a few sessions of c/t-ing at the open front door she is very close to passing this last step and passing L1. . . again!

She has passed seven out of the 14 behaviors in L2, and has only a few steps left to complete on many of the behaviors. A full report of what she has left is and will be updated in the Plans, Contrivances and Projects in Daily Life tab under THIS MONTH IN THE LIFE OF MAIZEY

Magnus too has started on the new Steps to Success. His progress can be found under THIS MONTH IN THE LIFE OF MAGNUS

So far he has not tested any behaviors but we are making good progress.

There is a bit of leeway on when you pass your 4legged friend from each step. I think I may err on the side of cation with this since I like to feel like they dogs are very solid in their performance of each step before they move forward.

For those of you that are using the Levels at what point do you give your 4legged friend a pass?

Something I didn’t do working the old Levels was write out the homework. So in keeping with my goal to do so this time here is my L1 homework for both pups:

Homework: List five things you hope to accomplish by working the Levels with your dog.
1.) Help her gain confidence in herself and lessen reactivity to other dogs.
2.) Gain the skills needed to pass her CGC.
3.) Learn the foundation behaviors for Rally Obedience work.
4.) Let her learn day to day skills that will help her live a full, satisfying life as a productive member of our “community”.
5.) For me: learn about dog behavior and communication in a way I can apply to other 4legged friends in my life.

1.) Help him learn basic skills of obedience to be a peaceful family member and future “community” member.
2.) Lay a foundation that lets him keep the confidence he has shown while so young and thus be prepared for what life throws at him.
3.) Learn the skills needed for CGC.
4.) lay a foundation of skills to be used in Rally Obedience or possibly Agility.
5.) For me: continue learning how to communicate in training in ways that can be applied to all 4legged friends in my life.