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Monthly Archives: November 2014

The Training Continues

The clicker training with frisbees wasn’t working. Too much drive. So we went back to a long line. Now I’m getting about 50% downs. I need to get a longer line so he has more time to think about it (and me too!)

We have been doing some body awareness training to break up the day. He has learned to pivot  with his front feet on a step stool. Amazingly, it wasn’t easy for him to learn. You’d think with his natural agility that he’d be better at it. Once he learned one direction we started going the other way. He had to learn that all over again. It’s strange but gives us both something to think about.

We also are continuing with his service dog training. I’ve been working on teaching him to pick something up and hand it to me. It’s the first time I’ve taught a retrieve completely with a clicker. It seemed to be going really slowly and there were some stages where I’d think, “now what?” But then I watched a video of someone clicker training a PIG to retrieve. The light dawned. Moss has got it!!!

Postive Training for Moss

Postive Training for Moss

I made the mistake of going on a border collie forum again. I don’t know why I do that since I end up angry at some of the comments. It seems everyone has plenty of advice for a novice trainer.

I’ve trained dogs since I was 13. I’ve run obedience classes for years and competed in trials. I have trained for herding trials since 1989. I may not have all the answers, but I’ve been around the block a few times.

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you’d know how frustrated I am with Moss. After over two years of training, he still won’t lie down reliably. It seems the harder I get down on him, the worse it gets. Yet this same dog absolutely loves training when we teach tricks or awareness training. He learns things incredibly fast.

The difference is when we do training at home, it’s all positive. I use a clicker. When we train on sheep, it’s all negative. I’m pushing, running at him, yelling, throwing things, slapping the ground. One trainer at a lesson we attended had him on his back yelling in his face. After two years, it has made little difference.

So this morning I have started a new program. We play frisbee every morning to let the dogs stretch. I have used this time to teach him some tricks too. He will lie down like a shot if I have a frisbee in my hand. I organized some ideas and took some treats and a clicker out with me today. The first step was to get him to lie down when he was running back to me. He didn’t want to stay down so that will be a future exercise. I tossed the frisbee a few times and he couldn’t resist leaping for them. I’ll start by making it easier for him to lie still and progress from there. Then I’ll have him lie down as he’s running for the frisbee.

Once he gets this down, we’ll try it in the pen with sheep. I don’t know if he’ll even want his treat when sheep are in view but it can’t hurt to try. I think he’ll still respond to the clicker anyway. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Old Dogs

Old Dogs

I do love my old dogs, no matter how troublesome they may be.

I do hate to see Doc slowing down. He has been listening to the song “Old and In the Way” and taking it to heart. Whenever I try to move around in my cramped trailer, there he is, right in the way. I’ve gotten very adept at stepping over him.

We had a cold snap last night. I turned the heat on, but I tend to keep it low. This morning I noticed Doc shivering in his crate. He has a full thick coat so I was surprised, but I dug out his winter coat and put it on him. Whatever it takes to keep him comfortable.

He sometimes can’t find me and has a worried look on his face, especially if we are staying away from home house-sitting. He will pace back and forth through the rooms or yard until I wave my arms and talk to him. Then he relaxes.

I thought this year I had licked the skin problem that had been getting worse each summer. This year I managed to get the hair on his back to grow in to its full natural thick coat and the itching stopped. Now that it’s turning cold, he has started chewing raw spots again. What’s up with that?

He has become very vocal in his old age. He isn’t whining so much as moaning. His latest routine to make me crazy is a new tactic of scratching at the door. Naturally, I’ll take him out whenever he seems to need to. But he has to go out on a chain since we live in a trailer park. So he goes out and just stands there for a minute and then starts moaning. I give up and bring him back inside. He scratches at the door again. He moans.  And so it goes…

Still, I love this old guy. I know the day will come when we can’t be together any more and the thought breaks my heart. We have been through a lot of good times and bad times. He has always been there for me.