Saturday, September 27, 2008

Kennel Club Good Citizen (Gold)

Ellie was entered for the Gold Kennel Club Good Citizen exam today. Sadly, it's a disappointing result. Only kidding, she passed with flying colours, and with no repeats needed. A repeat is needed if the dog doesn't perform any exercise as is required by the examiner.

An outline of the exam requirements is:

Exercise 1 - Road Walk
Exercise 2 - Return to Handler’s Side
Exercise 3 - Walk Free Beside Handler
Exercise 4 - Stay Down in one Place
Exercise 5 - Send the Dog to Bed
Exercise 6 - Stop the Dog
Exercise 7 - Relaxed Isolation
Exercise 8 - Food Manners
Exercise 9 - Examination of the Dog
Exercise 10 - Responsibility and Care

You can read full details of the exam requirements here.

Our thanks should go to all at ICC Training, in particular Christina, who has been our instructor week after week, since we first got Ellie. As you will know from previous entries, it took a while before the examinations for the Good Citizen scheme came about, but once things were sorted out, they've been as regular as clockwork, meaning we've been able to make rapid progress. Even more rapid than we'd planned in fact! We're about eighteen months ahead of my very loose schedule.

This result means that Ellie has gone as far as she can go with the Good Citizen scheme, and we have to start thinking about what we're going to do with her now, and what weekly classes, if any, we are going to enter her into. I am now going to return my focus to trick-training with Ellie. She enjoys learning new things, and I really enjoy teaching them. Jan is also looking to enter into heelwork to music with Ellie. That's not my thing at all, but we've reached a point where Jan can at least mention it without me bursting into fits of choking.

I believe it is vital that any dog attends weekly classes of some sort. It's not really about the learning, as much of that takes place at home anyway. You can learn the techniques at the classes, but you still need to go home and practise them day after day. Far more important, for me, is that the dog is learning to respond to requests and focus on the handler, in the presence of other dogs, and in a controlled environment. This is the sort of experience that cannot easily be engineered in a home environment. Any socialisation Ellie has learned has come about almost purely through attending weekly training classes. We don't really encourage her to play with other dogs as that could so easily result in her finding playing with other dogs more exciting than playing with us. Then the problems could really start. If you are able, attend a weekly training class, would be my advice.

Well done Ellie! We're so very proud of her.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Monty Mark II

You may recall, from a previous post, we had a JRT dog called Monty come to stay with us recently. Well, this weekend saw yet another Monty come to stay with us. Only this Monty was a five month old Pug.

This was the third dog we've had come to stay with us as part of our home-boarding. Being only five months of age, he constantly tried to get Ellie to play with him. We've always taught Ellie that we are the source of fun, and so she's not that interested in playing with other dogs, and she let this be known by ignoring all of his playful barks and bows. That is not to say that he gave up in his quest. He was nothing if not determined! :)

All in all, he was an easy dog to look after, and Ellie didn't seem to mind him. She corrected him only once, and that was with a quick snarl. I think she had grown tired of his badgering and so decided to give him a warning. He got the message, as dogs (particularly pups) generally do, with absolutely no harm done, other than, perhaps, to Monty's young pride.

I think Ellie is getting used to dogs just coming and going through our house now, and I'm sure she was pleased that Monty was the first dog we've had that hasn't stolen her bed from her!

Kennel Club Good Citizen Gold
Sadly, the exam for the gold, which was supposed to take place on Saturday has been postponed until next Saturday. We're disappointed, of course, but hey, it's another week of practise. Talking of which...

Back to Basics
It dawned on me a wee while back that Ellie didn't seem her usual self. She's never the most excitable dog at the best of times, but she seemed to be a little more subdued than usual, and was eating less. When I sat and looked at things objectively, I deduced that I wasn't spending as much time with her as I had been in previous months, either in training or in play.

I've now remedied this, through more regular clicking-training, mainly going back to basics and trying to make improvements in her basic skills. I'm also working at improving her latency, and just making things more fun and interactive. I'd let a lot of bad-habits slip in and so I'm now being far more selective over what I am rewarding. Regardless, she's a much happier dog now and is polishing off her dinners, despite eating far more in treats during the day!

Silvia's New Puppy
I'm not sure how I've missed this until now, but my training heroine, Silvia Trkman, has a new puppy, called Bi. She's documenting what she is doing with him throughout his development. It's fascinating to see how she interacts with her dogs. So natural.

It looks as though Bi has that crazy attitude which I know Silvia looks for in a dog. It's the same attitude that we were hoping for in Ellie, but alas, she is really very reserved, especially for a Border Collie. Still, that doesn't stop her succeeding; she just does it in her own unique way. :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chapel St. Leonards

Beach Runners
We took Ellie to Chapel St. Leonards yesterday. For a dog who was scared stiff of water for months of her life, she sure makes up for it now.

It was a good day for her, as it involved quite a mixed-bag of discipline. She had to behave in our friend's caravan there, she had to walk around the town on leash with plenty of other dogs around, and she had to play off-leash on the beach.

Her town walking was excellent. Despite being barked at by Dobermans and GSDs, she carried on regardless, and I really was very proud to walk her past other dogs and people.

However, there was a downside to the day too. Ellie was attacked on the beach by one of our friend's dogs. Luckily, it was muzzled, however, things did get a little nasty, though there was also a surprise too.
Ellie at Chapel St Leonards I
Ellie was fetching and returning the ball to me on the beach. The next thing I saw was her getting attacked by our friend's dog. Ellie retreated to between my legs and immediately dropped to a submissive position, which I was pleased about as it made controlling the situation much easier. At this point, we were quite some distance from everyone else. However, despite Ellie submitting, the other dog repeatedly persisted, and then its partner, another terrier (without a muzzle) joined in, though it quickly gave in.

To my amazement, our usually very placid (almost wussy) Ellie, decided that enough was enough and decided to defend herself. So much so that my attention had to switch from keeping the other dogs off her, to keeping her from biting them. While nobody likes to see dogs fight, I was a little relieved to see that she will stick up for herself when the need really arises.

After a few clashes, I managed to get hold of the other dog and secure him until his owner came and leashed him up. I'm pleased to report that no physical harm was done to either dogs, or to me. I'm not a fan of muzzles at all, but I sure am thankful the other dog was wearing one as I know that real damage would have been done had he not have been wearing it. Ellie and I immediately returned to playing and, as is typical with dogs, she seemed to have forgotten the incident two seconds later. She was perfectly fine with other dogs afterwards.

In other news, I've ordered yet another clicker-training book. This one, Clicker Training for Obedience, is one that I've been after for some time, but each time I've gone to order it through Amazon, it's been out of stock. I managed to look again at a time when they had two in stock! That should be arriving on Tuesday. I've been looking forward to it for ages.

Talking of obedience, here are a couple of videos of a dog and handler that I've been following for some time on YouTube. I love how Kaisa, the dog, is so focused on the handler. You can't help but admire that heelwork.

In other news still, Ellie takes her Kennel Club Good Citizen (Gold) exam on Sunday. Now, if she passes that will mean that she has done them all, and we then have to think about what we're going to do with her after that. The initial plan was to have her reach Gold standard by the time she was three years of age, and then her maturity will have settled in and we'll know just what sort of dog we have. As it is, again, if she passes, she will be only sixteen months of age. Either way, we'll continue formal training in something. We're just not sure what that something will be yet. I'd like to think that she could still come to love formal obedience. It bores her at the moment, but I'm hoping that because she's still so young and so she sees it as too dull and unexciting, when compared to learning tricks and running around.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ellie Has More Company

Chase Me!
Ellie just can't seem to stop having her friends around to stay at the moment.

Monty, or 'Mr Burns' as I came to call him, was a Jack Russell terrier that we home-boarded from 27 August to 04 September. As you'll be able to see in some of these photos, they actually became quite close.

They most certainly enjoyed chasing each other around the freshly cut wheat fields on our daily walks. Monty may have been smaller and slower, but he could match Ellie's stamina any day of the week.
Ellie, of course, knew that she was faster in the games of chase, and so it was fun to watch her deliberately slow down as really she wanted to be caught, or at least keep Monty motivated enough to continue the game. Monty seemed perfectly happy to oblige.

Ellie has now found the joy of splashing in the local stream each day, regardless of weather. Of course, it's not enough that she plays in it. Oh no, I have to as well. I have to jump in with her and scoop the sometimes freezing cold water with my hand and throw it at her, so that she can catch the droplets. I'm now fully accustomed to walking home with my feet squelching in my walking boots. :)

And then, if Ellie played this game, Monty wanted in too. Only he was too small to jump in and out of the stream by himself, so I had to lift him in and out, which meant me getting soaked on the top half too. Lovely! Luckily for me, the weather was warm and sunny for most of the week.

In other news, Ellie goes for her Gold Good Citizen exam on September 20th. The jury is still out on whether she's really at Gold level or not, but she's certainly ready to try. If she doesn't pass, we'll at least know where the weaknesses are. We now have her Bronze certificate signed and delivered and are waiting for the Silver to arrive shortly.
Once she's achieved Gold (I'm optimistic as always you see) then we can return to focusing on training some new tricks! Especially as the weather is now getting worse and the daylight hours becoming fewer, as we step into Autumn.