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!


10 Reasons Why a Dog Might Not “Obey a Command”

The homework for L2 in the Steps To Success is: “Why might a dog not “obey a command”? Give 10 possible reasons.”

I wanted to think of this is terms of why my dog might not “obey a command,” so this is the same list for both dogs.


  1. is tired
  2. is not hungry
  3. I don’t have high value enough treats
  4. I’m not giving high enough reinforcement rate
  5. finds the environment more rewarding than me or my reward
  6. has a developed history of a more rewarding behavior, such as a bad behavior (getting in the litter box) or a default behavior (down)
  7. has been reinforced for an alternate behavior too much so only offers that
  8. is afraid
  9. is young with a short attention span
  10. is confused by poor or inexperienced handling
  11. I am being a lumper not a splitter, so am asking for too much too soon
  12. I added a cue too soon before he really knew the behavior so the cue doesn’t mean anything yet, or the cue is new to him.
  13. training session is too long
  14. he’s a teenager

Okay, so I threw in the last one because the dreaded adolesence is rearing it’s nasty head. I suppose the more official version would be:

14.  dog is physically unable to complete the asked for skill due to hormonal changes rendering his brain as much use as pudding.

Oh wait, it seems my low opinion of the adolescent stage of a small male puppies’ life has colored my rhetoric again!

I seem to have strayed, so getting back on track. . .

Maizey’s list was a little harder. She rarely doesn’t do as asked, she loves to shape and is a skilled offerer, so thinking of why she didn’t do things was harder.


  1. there are strange dogs around
  2. is anxious/afraid
  3. is reactive and “can’t” hear me
  4. truly didn’t hear me (usually accompanied by a head tilt, “heh? Whadcha say there Crazymomlady?”
  5. my instructions were unclear and she is confused
  6. she’s physically unable to do the asked for skill(as in the case with her knees and refusal to hop on things as a puppy.)
  7. is distracted by Magnus the “I’m a Teenager” Destroyer
  8. finds the environment more reinforcing than me
  9. is offering me 26 other things than the one we are aiming for
  10. has a default stronger than the asked for behavior
  11. she’s thirsty

One thing evident from this list is how many of these reasons are actually about me, not them. In Magnus’ list 9/14 reasons are more about my handling or lack thereof! That’s a humbling realization.

We’ve all heard the all too common, “my dog’s just stubborn.” The 4legged lesson here is one that applies to 2legged creatures too: there are many reasons a dog (or human) may not perform a desired task and it’s rarely because they’re, “just stubborn.”

Remembering this may help us all be more patient with one another no matter how many legs we have!

Two of my favorite references on this subject:

Kathleens: 10 Reasons a Dog May Not Perform a Required Behavior
Eileens: The Missed cue


Steps To Success Level Two: Overview

Sue Ailsby introduces the new Steps to Success by saying:

“It’s wonderful to live down the block from an excellent clicker instructor who has room in her classes for your dog and plenty of time to coach you and give you advice and assistance in your training. Unfortunately very few of us live in Perfect…

We’re left on our own a lot of the time, trying to come up with our own training plans, our own goals. Is there any sport in the world where coaching is held in less esteem?

These Levels are written for those who want a coherent training plan. They aren’t aimed at obedience competition, or agility, or tracking, or any other particular sport or job. They’re aimed at producing a dog who is a willing partner, eager to learn, happy to work, and having the basic civilization necessary to allow her the access she needs to do her job and to allow you the confidence to enjoy being and working with her.”

I think we can all relate to what she says, and I’m so thankful to have her program to work from. The Steps To Success(S2S) are practical, easy to follow and very comprehensive.

S2S Level Two is 15 behaviors. From some of the old Training Levels skills like zen and lazy leash to some new skills like relax and communication.

Each of the 15 skills is split into five steps. Which makes a total of 75 steps in L2! The detailed book by Sue Ailsby is not released yet and I’m impatiently waiting for its first printing. After much deliberation I decided to dive in and work the skills I feel we can handle based on the info from the Training Levels. I may have to go back and rework some things, but with Magnus hitting the dreaded adolescence we need to keep his lessons moving forward.

Maizey’s progress through L2 should be a bit faster since she just needs to test and pass many behaviors. Already she has passed 13 steps! We wont even start relax and communicate until we have Sue’s new book.

The new steps are very practical. Zen takes you from “Dog moves away from uncovered treat on floor.” Up to “Dog doesn’t get treat on floor.” Sit covers not just duration but distance since by step four you reach, “Dog sits while trainer walks 10′ away, stays away for 1 minute and returns”

By the time you’ve worked through lazy leash, park it and crate you get to handling. By step five of handling your 4legged friend learns to allow “clippers, pills, thermometer, toothbrush.” All extremely practical skills for day to day life.

All in all it looks like a fun journey and the most important thing is for all of us to enjoy it!


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.