Thursday, October 6, 2016

Day 16: The Happiest Day

Today was the best day of the Board and Train for Margaret because she got a surprise visit from her favorite beloved! She was so thrilled to see you, Molli! Of course, all her no jumping training went out the window when she realized it was you at the front door!  There's no such thing as polite greetings when you are reunited with the one you love!

We ran Margaret through her greeting routine once she had greeted you with wild abandon, and she did great with demo'ing some of the things she had learned during her stay.

We began with recall -- in the meadow and on trails to the river.  Molli practiced calling her in a cheerful, strong and inviting tone,   using the same cal words every time ("Margaret, COME!" or  very loud, high pitched "PUPUPUPUPUPUP" if isn't responding fast enough.)

Once we got to the river Margaret showed off her spectacular stick fetching, surfing the current, and swimming her heart out in the river. You let us know she had only really been swimming once before - so that made her prowess in the water during her stay even more spectacular.

On the way back along the trails, Margaret did some more really good recalls, from out of sight in the forest, and playing chase with the Moose.

It wasn't till we got out the RTV that we decided we couldn't do this without pictures, so thanks to Debbie, as always, here are some photo highlights from then on.  
Take me to the golf course!
Wanna drive, Margaret?!
Cool as a cucumber
We drove around the meadow and Margaret was quite relaxed. We kept a light hold on her collar, but she wasn't trying to get out, and increasingly seemed to enjoy herself.

 Back at the house, we practiced role playing polite greetings, acting out people who wants to greet and pet Margaret on walks.

At this stage, Margaret is too young and impulsive to be left to her own devices in such exciting situations. She  needs skilled help every time she meets someone when she is out and about, so she is reminded what to do and not do.

Our focus here was on transferring the skills to you that you will need to help Margaret remember her manners and control herself in such situations.
Nice loose leash 
Excellent attention
Keeping control of the leash - stopping dead and holding firm so Margaret can't jump. 
Turning and walking her away before she jumps 
Lots of practice is needed at both ends of the leash so greeting skills becomes smoother and more automatic.
 "Margaret, Say Hi!"
Margaret! This Way!
Let's Go!
After that practice session we switched to another demo - Margaret showed off her excellent Treat-on-Paw Leave It trick.

Next we went to visit the chickens. Margaret showed us her chicken manners - and the chickens showed us they aren't afraid of that big fluffy dog.

Then Margaret demo'd a 3 Egg Leave It  trick.

She also practiced Sit Stay and Down Stay in the open meadow, with Molli as her trainer.
When training Stay, it is more effective to return to Margaret rather than call her to you to end the exercise.   
Sometimes a stick is a better reward than a treat
Off leash heeling 
Good job, Margaret and Molli! 
Margaret and Ringer were reunited in the side yard. Margaret was ecstatic, Ringer not so much! But he was happy in his own calm quiet way - and the dogs cruised around the yard getting reacquainted.

Next we took them out to play in the big meadow.

We played the  Circle Game, calling "Margaret Come!" back and forth between us, with yummy treats every time she got to the person who called her.

 Margaret showed off how well she can come when called, even with Ringer and other distractions around.

Ringer and Margaret had some ferociously good fun, chasing and mouth wrestling

 And every so often we threw in some more recall practice.
Margaret, Come!
 Eventually, both dogs were tired out and happy to rest and chew on a stick (giving us another chance to practice Drop It).

 It was a rainy and cool afternoon and we all got pretty wet - but we loved being out with the dogs having a blast. Is there anything better than seeing dogs running free, enjoying just being dogs in the beauty of nature!  

This concludes Margaret's blog. Tomorrow morning we will have another handover session, and Margaret will go home with you.  I have loved having her stay with me, and I will miss her! Thank you for entrusting her to my care. And many thanks to Debbie for all the wonderful photos that illustrate this blog. As you requested, here are photos of Debbie, since she was always behind the camera,  and the Moose!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Day 15: Country Dog

Margaret is doing really well with her Stay training, and this morning was no exception.

 Today when Debbie arrived, she worked on holding a Down Stay while Debbie came through the door.  
 Then we did a polite greeting routine  - no jumping, a quick greet, then me calling her, giving her a treat, then releasing her back to say hi again.
 Once she was calmer, she had to hold a Sit while Debbie petted her on her back, and I reinforced the Sit Stay with treats.  

Next, play time with the Moose and an opportunity to practice recall. I had noticed earlier in the morning that Margaret was a bit less responsive when I called her, so I made sure to brush up on that.

Young dogs always have days when they seem to slip back, or are testing boundaries to see what they can get away with. That's a time to do a little refresher training, as if they were still puppies, and soon they get back on track.

With Margaret's recall, it was a simple matter of loading up on extra tasty treats, and making sure we did some focused practice with marvelous rewards - both treats and playing games with her with ball tossing, stick fetching and whatever else she was enjoying in a given moment.      

Margaret Come!!!!

Good girl (multiple treats, petting and praise as rewards)
We went to the river after this and practiced recall all the way along the trails, hiding from Margaret and popping out when she came running back in answer to my call, and playing Hunt the Treat (turkey slices) as a reward for coming. She loved these games!

At the river Margaret was phenomenal. With over 4 inches of rain over night, the river was running faster and higher. The current was not too strong, but strong enough for the dogs to dive in after sticks and allow themselves to be carried downstream before swimming out.  It was like river surfing- and they loved it!

Margaret swam her heart out, and then raced all the way back to the house, playing more recall games as we went.

By the end of the day she was coming perfectly when I called her  -  better than before!

Margaret was knocked out after all that exercise and happy to spend the next few hours in her crate while I worked on her blog and handover document so you have training resources to work from when she is back home with you.

When she woke up she fussed a bit so I waited till she stopped protesting before I let her out of her crate.

Then I remembered we had one last training challenge that we hadn't met yet -   perfecting her RTV riding. Although she had been getting more comfortable on a our last ride, she had still been a little nervous. So I got out the RTV and we got down to business.

Margaret  hopped in readily, but when I started the engine, the vibration made her nervous. I kept a tight hold on her collar so she couldn't leap out, encouraged her with my voice, and went very slowly at first. I made sure she wasn't too scared, just a little nervous, otherwise we would have scaled back.

The Moose is a pro at this and insisted on riding with us in the back.

 After a short while, Margaret began to relax and settle in next to me. I only needed to keep a light hold on her collar in case she suddenly decided to jump out. Safety first always!

Ready for golfing!
 Any moment is an opportunity for a recall - this time I called Margaret from one side of the vehicle to the other.
And that was it for Margaret's day - time to go inside and have dinner, and spend a cozy evening inside.
 A very good time was had by all!
See you tomorrow!!! We can't wait!