The Plan & Boise Fun

I decided to check Claire when I got home on Friday because I got this message from Suzanne, who is now living about 12 miles north (that is a close neighbor in Montana):

“Lol, are you sure Claire is not in heat? Sundance has been howling a lot with his nose facing south 😉🤣”

I texted back:

“HOLY CRAP! I just checked her and Sundance is right! She IS in season!!!!!”

Isn’t that funny?!

GOOD JOB SUNDANCE!

Someday I hope we have Sundance babies because he is a wonderful dog — and has a great nose apparently 😉but not this time. We love Sundance so much but the goals for this breeding pointed in a different direction (south and west — not north).

So what’s The Plan?

We will begin progesterone testing later this week and will check daily or every other day, depending on the value. It will start off under 1.0 and if it is way under, we can skip a day.

When the value is between 1 and 2 we will know it is time to start making plans to get the show on the road, so to speak. My best guess is that we are about 12 - 14 days from the breeding dates.

In the meantime, I made my planned trip to Boise. Sparkle and I stopped on the way to do a short mountain bike ride in Stanley.

Bike and dog Stan;ey.jpg

The weather could not have been more perfect and it was a nice way to break up the drive.

Sparkle in Stanley.jpg

Even though I see them at least once each month, the changes in children in a matter of weeks is really incredible. Lincoln is nine months now and look at this…

Berkeley and Lincoln Aug 2018.jpg

Pulling himself to stand! He is a cozy, thoughtful, and active little human.

Me and Link.jpg

Berkeley got her first haircut! She is charming, chatty, and clever. She is talking in complete — mostly intelligible — sentences.

Berkeley Aug 2019 (1).jpg

Berkeley remains easily hypoglycemic, but they manage her well with diet. There is still no known explanation for this.

Today’s adventures involve Sparkle and photos that Galen wants to do, Trader Joe’s (we do not have one in Montana), fun with small humans, and an evening with our friends-like-family.

I hope your day also includes fun adventures, no matter where you are.

Key Components of Training

I love dog training because — and I know I have said this before but it remains true — it is a creative endeavor requiring intelligence and a consideration of what constitutes ethical behavior.

Well, that is not exactly true because not everyone trains in creative, intelligent, and ethical ways — but it is true for me, and that is why I really quite love training dogs.

Sparkle is training for Utility (an advanced obedience class). Things are going really well — she has almost all the pieces, and we have even started to put some of them together.

But go outs have been perplexing. This exercise requires she run out to a designated spot and turn/sit to face me on cue.

I use a target to train it — like a treat or a toy — and this has worked well with my other dogs, but it was not working for Sparkle. The trouble is that she is FAST — so she would race out, grab the whatever, and barrel herself back; the sit cue didn’t really register.

Of course, I trained sit at distance separate from the “race out” part and it is fine. I do the go outs with a sit from short distance (1 - 2 feet) and it is fine. It is when we add in distance — which tends to up that sparkling drive and energy — that things don’t go as planned.

Here is where things get interesting (to me).

Whether she should or should not register the sit cue and do it (because I said so!) is irrelevant to me.

This matters. A lot.

When people think, “she knows this and should do it” they tend towards adding a negative and/or corrective consequence.

My ethical framework doesn’t permit that kind of thinking/behavior when training for performance events.

Instead, I am perplexed and puzzle things out (hence, training as requiring intelligence, creativity, and ethical behavior).

It occurred to me that my training for the directed retrieve was also a race to a treat (in a bowl), and then a fast race back — why would Sparkle think the go out was different?

Huh.

This is another reason not to get all mean and snarky with a dog who is not meeting our expectations — because likely they are! Just maybe not the expectations we expected, if that makes sense.

I decided I needed to change up the picture a bit.

In addition to shaping, I used a lure to move her in the space from a short distance.

In addition to shaping, I used a lure to move her in the space from a short distance.

I used panel jump “bars” to create a bit of a physical barrier, and shaped the behavior (with a clicker and treats) of getting in the space — and then turning to face me and then to sit.

This is not a perfect sit because she should be straight but when shaping, you take baby steps towards perfection — not expect it instantly. Were you perfect the first time you did something?

This is not a perfect sit because she should be straight but when shaping, you take baby steps towards perfection — not expect it instantly. Were you perfect the first time you did something?

I will now start adding distance to it — in very small increments. She will master the behavior AND retain her pizzazz because both matter to me.

After all, her name IS Sparkle.

Sparkle August 2019 (1).jpg