Day 5. Lola is taking over

I got your back.

Today was Lola’s last field trip! She goes home tomorrow, and she is more than ready! Lola is one super smart doodle. Today she walked around a local shopping center and practiced maintaining self control around new people. It was a very successful session!

Lola's Last Field Trip Lola's Last Field Trip

Pumpkin, Kitty’s Cat

Kitty's Pumpkin

Pumpkin is the office cat at Kitty’s. If you have ever had your dog groomed there, gone there for a Leash Free Living group class, or had a private lesson there… you know who she is. This brave cat makes frequent appearances during training sessions to make sure everyone knows she runs the place. Except for tonight. It took so long to convince Pumpkin to make an appearance in this picture, she did want anything to do with us by the time class started. Who knew the cat that crashes class would be so hard to photograph!

Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin Pumpkin

Day 2. Home Improvement Field Trip

Lowes Field Trip

Rugby, Bourbon and Lola (5 month old Goldendoodle puppy) went to Lowes today for a training field trip! The big dogs did walk all by themselves, but the picture of them in the shopping cart was too cute to pass up. Rugby was in charge of navigation, Bourbon was the muscle and Lola was just along for the ride.

Lowes Field Trip       Lowes Field Trip

Lowes Field Trip

Our Favorite Advent Calendar

It is finally time again to start celebrating Christmas with our Rugby themed online advent calendar! It will be an advent calendar of pictures, where I post a photo of Rugby with something RED, and something GREEN every day.

This is our 5th year doing this, so if you fish through the archives you can find tons of Rugby pictures that were in past advent calendars. Here are a couple of our favorites as examples.

Day 19

RED and GREEN lights.

Pizza Puppy

RED and GREEN pizza box!

The more Christmas photos, the merrier, so feel free to join us. If you have a blog, I will have a linky added to this post soon that you can enter. They don’t have to be Christmas photos, and you don’t have to post every day. All holiday themed photos are welcome.

If you don’t have a blog, I will also be posting photos on the Leash Free Living Facebook page. Post your photos to our wall and I will gladly add them to the Christmas Album!

Parker’s New Titles

I am happy to report that Leash Free Living has yet ANOTHER new Companion Dog Title to brag about. This time the brag belongs to Parker the Maltese and Rubina, his owner.

Parker CD Title

Parker’s story is so great because obedience training has done more than help him earn his CD title. Parker started as an agility dog, that didn’t have the stress management skills necessary to perform at trials (which makes being an agility dog kind of hard).

Determined not to let Parker’s agility skills go to waste, Rubina started in Obedience at Leash Free Living with the goal of helping Parker find a coping mechanism that worked for him, and to give her the tools to speak with and settle him even in his anxious state.

Just about the time that Parker was ready to make his debut in the Obedience ring, they also tried their hand at agility trials again. It was a success! With the help of their newly established obedience skills, Parker also earned three agility titles last month.

2013-10-06 17.40.46 2013-10-13 17.33.46 2013-11-12 14.49.21 20131005_183832_LLS

I am so proud of this team! Big congrats, Team Parker!! Rubina and Parker keep a blog of their own too, and have described how Obedience training has helped Parker at agility trials there. Check it out – Team Parker Goes to Boot Camp.

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch

Rugby, Bourbon and our friend Parker went to the pumpkin patch last week to get in the spirit of Halloween. We had to drive quite a ways to find a dog friendly farm, and I am so glad that we did! The dogs got to socialize with all of the scarecrows, do recalls through the pumpkin patch, and run through rows of flowers.

Pumpkin Patch Pumpkin Patch Pumpkin Patch Pumpkin Patch

It wouldn’t have been much of a trip if we didn’t also take the opportunity to reenact a scene from “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Rugby was Charlie Brown, Parker was Linus and because we didn’t have a wig and dress that would fit Bourbon so she could be Sally (but then maybe she would make a better Lucy)… she was a ghost.

Pumpkin Patch

Zach the Companion Dog

Leash Free Living has a new Companion Dog to brag about!

Zach's Win Photo

Zach, the Golden Retriever, made his debut in the AKC Novice ring last month in Macungie, PA. In order to earn a Companion Dog title, the dog must show in Novice Obedience and qualify three times, under two different judges. This particular show offered four days of Obedience, and Zach showed and qualified in all of them.

Zach's Companion Dog Title

A qualifying score is one where the dog and handler have earned at least 170 out of a possible 200 points, and have earned at least half of the points in each exercise. The tested exercises include Heeling, Figure 8, Stand for Exam, Heel Free (off-lead), Recall, Sit/Stay and Down/Stay. The video below shows Zach earning his third leg.

I am very proud of Zach! He did a great job, and was able to do his job despite distractions. Now that he has earned his title, the abbreviation “CD” will be permanently added to the end of his name. At least until he earns a higher title to replace it.
Big thanks to Zach’s owners for preparing the video, too! 

We’ve been busy!

Bourbon and Rugby

The blog has been a little neglected lately, but the dogs have not! Bourbon has been socializing, training and growing like a weed. Diesel is working on his Utility exercises, and Rugby is officially back to work on his Agility goals for this year. We have lots to share, so we need to plan for some blogging time this weekend.

Bourbon and Parker at BMX Nationals

Rugby is entered in a photo contest and needs your help! He is in the top 4, but still quite a few votes away from first place. Its is very easy to vote, just click on the link below and hit the “vote” button below Rugby’s photo. Today is the last day to vote (voting ends at 3 pm).

Feel free to share, too! Rugby and I appreciate all our friends taking the time to vote!

Rugby Leaps into Spring!

Getting to know Bourbon

Bourbon - 12 weeksBourbon has been with us for a more than a month now and she has been keeping me and Rugby busy! There are lots of lessons Bourbon needs to learn to get her started on the path to becoming an enjoyable companion.  Here are some lessons that she has started already. Almost the entire list is a work in progress, and will be through puppy-hood.

1) Go potty outside and only outside. This is easier for both of us if you ask me to go outside. I would say she is at about 75% now. Hopefully the number keeps going up!

2) Be quiet in the crate. Your gremlin noises are not cute. It is a little funny though… when I’m not trying to sleep. Now, the only time she yells about being confined is during the day when she thinks she is missing out on some fun. She is quiet at night, and quiet in the car. And sometimes quiet on the sidelines. Sometimes.

3) Go in the crate on command. This she almost has down. Switching her to raw food helped tremendously. She is crazy about her food and couldn’t get in the kennel any faster!

Dog Walking Pack!

4) Drink without spilling the water bowl. Keep your feet out of the bowl all together, please. We upgraded from your average bowl to a no-spill bowl in the kitchen. The exercise pen that separates the living room in two has a pail hanging on it. She has a hard time spilling either of these bowls. Was also able to catch her trying to spill the bowl outside, and yelled at her for it (twice). I haven’t seen her try again since. Phew!

5) Sit still while I change your ear posts. This was an easy once since she loves when I mess with her ears. Rub her ears and you will soon have a sleeping Doberman puppy.

6) Sit still while I dremel your nails. Bourbon has some lungs on her and screamed and screamed about the dremel. Each time we have had the dremel out, she has been better. Yesterday we dremeled nails with no screaming and no wiggling. Yea!

Play Ball!

7) Come when called. This will be a work in progress for a long time. She was doing really well with it, then finally got smart enough to realize she didn’t *have* to, so she has been dragging a line everywhere so that she learns that come is not optional. She needed a couple days as a refresher, and has been good ever since (with lines still on).

8) Walk on a loose leash. This is easy to do when I am walking her by herself, and not so easy to do when walking her with Rugby, since she likes to tangle him up in her leash.

9) Give. This one was really hard at first, but has gotten much easier and when she is feeling particularly cooperative, she will practically spit the toy out at me.

10) Tricks! Introducing her to basic obedience commands and some fun parlor tricks to get her brain juices flowing. Once she understands what I want from her, she does well.

Outside of this list, we have been socializing, socializing and socializing some more. She is a bold puppy and loves to go places and see things. The more people she meets, places she goes and situations she experiences, the less stressful life will be for her later on.

Diesel and Bourbon

Rugby’s Specialty Experience

Rugby was back in Orlando this week for the American Maltese Association’s Obedience Trial at the National Specialty. There is nothing like being at a show with over 100 Maltese and the people that love them to make you truly appreciate what a great breed this is. Rugby agrees too, and is convinced that each specialty is held specifically so he can play with new dogs and greet every person that looks in his direction.

Partly because he is expecting a party, and partly because he is a conceited little dog, Rugby enjoys Obedience at the specialty because he gets applause! Oh my, he can hardly contain himself when he knows people are clapping for him. People don’t usually clap at your average Obedience trial, and the definitely don’t clap after every exercise so Rugby was eating up the attention yesterday. Not to mention he got instant feedback when doing his scent articles (bonus!) since the crowd told him he was right.

AMA Obedience Winnings

Rugby poses with all of his Obedience Trial prizes.

Rugby ended up with a 195 in Utility B, a 196 in Open B for his 19th UDX leg and a perfect 100 in Rally Advanced to finish his RA title. He earned a first place in all three classes and was High in Trial and High Combined. That brings his total to 9 HITs and 12 HCs.

Video of both of his Obedience runs are below. I didn’t record his Rally performance.

While he didn’t score (or work) quite as well as he did a few weeks ago, he had a few things going against him. The biggest one is travel. Flying wears him out, and for the last couple of years each time we flew for a dog show, I added a spare day after flying and before showing into the trip so he could rest and recover. I didn’t give him that day this time.

The next one is named Bourbon. We have been busy puppy raising, and slacking a little on the ‘training Rugby’ bit. We have been training, so that Rugby can get some “alone time” and keep his sanity, just not enough to keep him working at his full potential.

Lastly, he needs to visit the doggy chiropractor again. This was painfully obvious when after the show I asked him to do some tricks and he wouldn’t spin towards his left. That means his back is hurting him. That would explain the sloppy turns in the heeling and the crooked fronts/finishes. Sorry Rugby, we will fix you when we get back!

He was very tired after the show, and slept for the rest of the day. It is a miracle he stayed up during out of sight stays, considering. He really does work hard for me. Such a fabulous little dog. The applause didn’t hurt any. That kept him pretty wired.

We are on our way back today. We will be missing the rest of the show, but have to get back to Bourbon and our lessons planned for this weekend. Thank you to all the Leash Free Living students who were flexible with their schedules so we could make it down here to compete! Looking forward to next years specialty already!

The Leash Free Living Dogs

HarrisburgDiesel and Rugby represented Leash Free Living well in Harrisburg this weekend.

Diesel finished up his Companion Dog Excellent Title with scores of 193.5 (second place) and 192.5 in Open B. While he was a bit more sloppy here than on his first try, this show site was also more distracting. I am so glad he held it together and gave qualifying performances both days!

This weekend was Rugby’s first time in the ring since our not-so-hot performance in December. He seemed to be coming back together in training and this show was a perfect time to see if we had successfully fixed some of his issues. Rugby had a small brain fart during the Moving Stand that caused us to fail an otherwise beautiful Utility run on Friday. We counted it as a warm up. Saturday, he stayed focused (even for the Moving Stand) and won Utility B with a 199 for High in Trial!

Rugby won a pewter pitcher and $250 worth of vendor bucks, so we had to make time to go shopping before we left. Couldn’t let our vendor bucks go to waste!

After the show Saturday, we made a stop to pick up the newest addition.


Bourbon teases her brothers through the ex-pen

Meet Bourbon (at least that is what we are calling her for now, although I think it is going to stick). Named after bourbon roses since she is a Valentines Day puppy. Her full name is Stedfast Cupid’s Red Rose v Kelview. Is she cute or what?!

Rugby is trying to figure out ways to get rid of her. Sorry, Rugs. She is here to stay!

Diesel’s Debut

firstopenlegDiesel made his debut in Open at the Diamond State German Shepherd Dog Club’s GSD Specialty this morning. He felt at home surrounded by the other shepherds and it was fun to see how similarly the dogs of the same breed behaved in and out of the ring.

Diesel did a fabulous job in the open ring. He was relaxed enough to jump in celebration between exercises, he gave me decent fronts and finishes (even fixed his front on the broad jump) and he managed to get a perfect score on the Retrieve Over High Jump after I set him up with a bad throw. AND he held his out of sight stays on top of all that!

Diesel ended up in 2nd place with a score of 195.5 in Open B. I am very happy with him!

Little Dogs

There is only one thing not to love about my little dog. It is the fact that at seven pounds, everything has the potential to eat him.

Whoa! This thing has teeth!

Cas, the puppy, learns that Rugby needs space too!

Birds of prey, coyotes, and larger dogs just to name a few. I know first hand what it is like to loose a dog to another dog’s attack. It is what makes me constantly analyzing body language of surrounding dogs. If I see it coming, I can scoop Rugby up or move him to a safe place before the “look” escalates to anything more.

This is an important job for us little dog owners. We have to worry about dog aggression, prey drive and even the dogs that play roughly. Our dogs won’t do it for us either. Rugby is too outgoing and trusting to stop himself from walking into an open mouth.

This becomes a much harder job in situations where other dogs are not under control of their owners. Dogs that are so out of control that they break or slip out of their collars/harnesses, pull the leashes from their owners’ hands, drag their owners behind them, or are lacking the training to be able to perform a recall (come when called) when off the lead with distractions are dangerous. Even if they are “friendly.”

I was pleasantly surprised to come across this poster online the other day.

DINOS Ask First! PosterGreat message, and the poster says all the right things. I just have one tiny bone to pick. Their website uses DINOS (dog in need of space) to instill the importance of leash laws to dog owners far and wide. However, maintaining control over your dog has little to do with whether or not they are attached to a leash.

Leash laws don’t prevent unwanted encounters. Training does.

The messages is still a good one, and having good etiquette when out and about with your four legged companion is important if we want to continue to have access to public places.

Thanks to Dogs in Need of Space! And Rugby thanks you for giving him space!

When stay problems aren’t stay problems.

Sit Stays

Diesel helps review stay with Mick on Week 4

A couple of months ago, during a lesson where Diesel was acting as my demo dog, I put him on a stay in the corner, walked away to continue teaching and soon I had a dog standing 6 ft from me and staring, wondering why I was not paying attention to him (that is not stay!). This was becoming more common with him. Huh? How did Diesel’s stays deteriorate at such a rapid rate? One day I had a dog almost ready for the Open ring, and the next I had one that wouldn’t sit still long enough for me to walk across the room.

I got to work re-teaching out of sight stays from the very beginning, to discover we didn’t even have that any more. So we went further back, broke the exercise into tiny little pieces so he could be successful and worked our way back up. In only a couple of training sessions, his stays had returned and I could leave the room and have him maintain his position.

Until I had another lesson. Aha! Turns out, Diesel isn’t cut out to be a demo dog, at least not in the same way that Rugby acts as a demo dog. At this point in his training, Diesel needs my full, undivided attention to be confident and secure in his work. Building the kind of confidence that makes a good demo dog in one that doesn’t have it takes time.

Diesel acts as one of the figure-8 posts during a semi-private lesson.

I have always known Diesel needs extra support and encouragement. His stay problem was a sign that I lost sight of this fact and was expecting too much, too soon.  I have since changed how he works as a demo dog with great results. Now he is working better than ever both as a demo dog and on his own training, preparing for his debut in Open.

Filling Holes

Jett, a Captive AudienceThis past weekend, I wanted to see how well Diesel and I have been doing with our self-assigned homework after the last match a couple of weeks ago. There were lots of opportunities to take advantage of this weekend (Jett came to one too for some extra socialization and had a blast. He wants to be an Obedience dog!).

We went to three matches. Our goal was to find any holes in the training and fill them. It was a success! We established a warm up routine, we found some problems, fixed some problems, reinforced good behaviors, corrected bad ones. The biggest improvement was seen in the stays. He held the stays at all three matches, even the two that were in new places with new distractions.

I peeked through the window during out of sight stays at the third match and could see Diesel through the mirror. He even had his head down! What a relief!

Group Stays