The word of the day is: Treats

And by treats, I mean dog treats.  I have been picking up the training with the dogs again and only had a few bags of treats left so I went to Amazon and ordered some more training treats.  I love the Prime shipping with Amazon, our stuff comes so quickly!  Yesterday I received a bunch of treats and dogs were very excited about it.

What do you mean I spend too much on the dogs?

What do you mean I spend too much on the dogs?

I actually received two smaller boxes after this with a couple more treat bags.  And then Best Bully Sticks is having a semiannual sale where everything on the site is 18% off, so of course I had to take advantage of that sale and purchased more treats.  The difference is, the Amazon stuff are for training and are smaller pieces, and the BBS items are larger and for longer chewing sessions.  Either way it was somewhat of a pretty penny spent, but I think it’s worth it.  And I make sure to buy things when they are on sale, so at least it’s less than it could have been.  *Justification*  Ezra helped me move the bags into the book bedroom and he thought that was pretty cool.  I kept sending him back to the kitchen to get more bags and he would come back and say, “I got five bags!” and then, “I got six bags!” and the last time, laughing crazily, “I got seven bags!”  It’s the little things, folks.

I’ve been working with the dogs on targeting, which right now I’m just having them target my hand.  We are also working on sit, down, wait, and loose leash walking.  The walking part Benny has while inside the house, in the backyard he is mediocre and in the front outside the house goes ballistic.  I keep telling myself baby steps, Ashlin, baby steps.  Eventually I WILL be able to take them on walks.  I think I need to practice more while inside the house and backyard, and then up the treat game while in the front, use more exciting treats, because right now they do not give a crap about the treats when we are in the front yard.

I started something new with Benny while training “wait”.  He does the wait fairly well, so I start placing a treat on the floor where he can see it, and then I leave a spaced out trail of treats where he cannot see it (because he is still waiting) and then I tell him to “find it!”  He gets the first one easily since he can see it, and then he has to use his sight and nose to find the rest of the trail.  He seemed to like the game pretty well.

Luca, on the other hand, does not wait very well at all.  Basically if he’s sitting and you take a step back he gets up to follow.  I tried the find it game with him as well but he not only didn’t want to wait, he had a harder time finding the treats on the floor.  In fact, Ezra helped him twice by pointing to where the treats were.  Ezra does pretty well at the find it game:)

Leo had a good run of sleeping straight through the night, and then the past few nights he’s been getting up again.  Wednesday night he was UP THREE TIMES.  Last night it was just around 3am and then he didn’t get up again until 9:30am!  I was so jealous when Jesse told me that.  I was really dragging this morning and would have LOVED to stay in bed when my alarm went off.

I’ve been piling up baby clothes that Leo cannot fit in to bring to the DI, and I asked Jesse if he wanted to get rid of anything.  He went through his clothes and created a large pile of stuff, and then I started going through my own clothes.  A lot of my shirts don’t fit me anymore (some still had tags on them) and it occurred to me that they were rarely worn and still looked mostly new.  I asked Velvet if she wanted to go through them before I donated them and she did.  She ended up keeping all of them but maybe three, so I’m glad someone I know is getting use out of them.  In the end we ended up donating maybe five garbage bags of clothes to the DI.

However, it occurs to me that we should do a major declutter around the house and get rid of more things.  I have an entire bookshelf filled with books that I’ve been trying to sell and really I should probably just donate them because apparently you can buy books at $0.01 in a lot of places, and I’d rather donate my books at a good price so I can write it off on taxes later.  I also think a lot of people are like me and now get books in electronic format and simply are not buying physical books.  There is something to be said for the tangibility of books, but I really like how ebooks take up no space whatsoever.  And then I could use that bookcase for storing other items.  Like my many bags of dog treats.

Jesse is getting excited for elk hunting, I think.  He’s bought a few game bags and new knives, and other hunting gear.  Fingers crossed he gets something!  Also fingers crossed that Dustin and his son get elk because they don’t like the meat, they just like the sport, and then we get the meat!  Jesse has it all planned out how he’s going to process the buck, what pieces to keep, organs for the dogs, and then we’re also going to retain some bones for the dogs, too, like ribs and stuff.  This will be a really healthy way to supplement their diet, where they typically just get chicken.

Mister still hasn’t come home, I don’t think he ever will.  But Jojo is still around.  She mainly only comes in when the dogs are kenneled, but she’s been braver lately, creeping in when no one hears her.  We installed a new dog door that she was timid to use but I think she’s got it down now.  The last was so ratty it was barely hanging on to the frame.  This one actually has three doors/pieces to keep out the weather and it seems so much more energy efficient.

I’m not sure if our peach trees are going to survive.  They were both split down the middle but they might pull through.  On the other hand, I don’t like how close they are to the back fence.  We have grapes on the back fence and I have to duck under tree limbs and the grapes are being eaten by wasps and yellow jackets and I do not like being forced into such close proximity.  So maybe we will just dig up those trees and not have peach trees in the yard.  Jesse doesn’t like peaches anyway….

I was also thinking of maybe hiring someone to clear out/strip all the weeds/vegetation from the yard so we can start fresh.  I was thinking we could get someone into there with a small cat tractor and it could have some kind of a rake attachment that just pulls out everything, but Jesse said it doesn’t work like that.  I also want to change our plans for the layout of the garden area vs the strip of grass/turf area.  It’s all in flux, and really it depends on what kind of money we can scrape together.  *sigh*  A girl can dream about a nice backyard, right?

When things don’t go as planned, oh well

We were supposed to have a behaviorist come and see Benny and Luca tonight to start working on resource guarding.  However, Benny ripped a toenail the other day and we were going to take him in to the vet today so we rescheduled with the behaviorist for next week.  I thought dog toenails were like people toenails in that they would just fall off when injured.  I looked it up online yesterday, though, and apparently it’s one type of injury that you should take the dog to the vet to get looked at.  It’s now been about five days since we noticed the injury.  Oops.

So today I get up and Benny walked by me and I noticed his nail was just barely hanging by a thread, flopping around when he walked.  Completely grossed me out.  It didn’t seem to hurt him much when I gently pulled at it to see it if would come off.  I didn’t want to tug too hard and cause it to bleed, so I just left it there and figured that either he would chew it off or it would fall off somewhere outside while he was running around.  At that point we decided that we wouldn’t take him to the vet after all; his toe itself didn’t seem inflamed and he didn’t pull away when we gently prodded the foot, and we really don’t need a vet bill on top of everything else.  About an hour later I noticed the nail had indeed fallen off and everything looks fine.  We still may do a foot soak with Epsom salt as I hear that is very healing to wounds.

Dad and Dani were supposed to come down this past Friday and stay until Tuesday but Dani got a bad cold and they didn’t want to infect us folk with it, so they stayed home.  Velvet and I had already taken today off of work, so we decided to keep the day off anyway and we went and got pedicures.  It was especially nice for me since I can barely reach my feet these days, but because it was a nail school, the tech I got was very timid.  I wanted to be all, get in there, get those calluses!  But I don’t think she would have understood me.  Oh well, it is what it is, and at least my toenails are pretty.

We went out to eat at Café Rio after that and it totally raised my blood glucose when I tested it a couple hours later but I had pretty much expected that and I figure high numbers once in a while is probably ok compared to high numbers all the time.  Velvet dropped me off back at home, and then it was time to do some training with the dogs.

So far I had done two trainings each with the dogs, using 50 treats each time.  Today I decided to use 100 treats for each dog’s session.  I am still working with getting them used to the harnesses.  Benny actually picks up training pretty quickly.  I would like him to be in a seated position when I work on getting his harness on, but he seems to like being in a down position, so that’s what I am working with.  He seemed to quickly get the gist of my moving the harness up and down, touching his body under the harness and adjusting the fit of the harness.  I also worked on taking off the harness and putting his feet into position to get the harness on.  Ideally he would just step into the harness, but at this stage I will take what I can get.  When he was done with his session I put him in his crate and let out Luca.

Luca took awhile to settle down as he is ALL about the treats and likes to mug me when I sit down.  Luca really doesn’t like having his paws touched, so I had to learn to touch and click quickly so that he was more interested in getting the treat than he was in moving his feet.  Eventually we worked up to me putting on and taking off the harness, adjusting the harness, and moving his feet into the harness holes.  By the end of the session he was letting me move his feet into position pretty well.  He was still kind of weird about me touching him under the harness and adjusting the harness, but I think that was more because he was trying to figure out if I had treats in my hand.

So far for the 1,000 Treat Challenge we are up to:
Benny =  three sessions, 200 treats
Luca = three sessions, 200 treats

I had to open a new bag of training treats, so I think we will be using them at a nice pace.  I had an email from Amazon that the remaining treats are being shipped later than anticipated.  To be honest, I had forgotten there was more to that order that we had not received yet.  All in all, we can probably do a number of 1,000 Treat Challenges at this point, and I’m ok with that.

tired out puppies

tired puppies

While my next skill building I’m planning on is to work on leashes with the intent that we can someday walk these dogs, there was a video that really spoke to me that I watched today.  It was about training incompatible behavior techniques.  For this woman, every time she bent down to pick up something from the floor, her dog would mug her face.  This is something our dogs do as well and I would like to train them out of it.  Eventually she trained her dog that every time the woman bent over, the dog would go into a default down position.

This is definitely something I’d like to work on.  It seems like it would tie in nicely with a “leave it” command.

Ezra, looks over Lincoln Log instructions

Ezra, looks over Lincoln Log instructions while sleepy dogs sleep on

Let the 1,000 Treat Challenge begin!

I know Jesse thinks I spend too much money on the dogs.  I probably do but I want them to be healthy and happy and like being with us so I don’t worry too much about the cost, especially during times where we may be more flush than others.

Case in point, I just bought a crap-ton of Cloud Star dog treats from Amazon.  They appear to be good training-size treats and I’m too lazy to make my own.  I like that they have minimal ingredients and I bought different flavors of different style treats to keep it interesting to the pups.

We received the first part of the order yesterday, so I started the 1,000 Treat Challenge. Nothing like not procrastinating when you have the goods.  The idea of the 1,000 Treat Challenge is to set aside 1k treats and over the next two weeks to use all those treats just training one specific skill.  I decided to do this challenge with the dogs’ new harnesses.  These harnesses are the step-in kind and the dogs were not used to this style at all.  To be fair, we didn’t acclimate them well to their other, now-defunct harnesses to the point where Luca would run away when it was time to put it on.

The above video is kind of the model I’m using to do the training.  I had the non-working dog in a crate while I was working with the other dog because otherwise I would have just been mugged by both dogs trying to get treats.  I guess that’s another training I need to do.  For the time being, I am using the Cloud Star Crunchy Tricky Trainers in Cheddar.

Our dogs didn’t quite get the gist of stepping into the holes and I probably rushed everything, but I’m going to keep working on it. I spent 50 treats on each dog yesterday, and probably should have done another training later that day to reinforce the earlier training.  Oh well, I will do the training again tonight.

We also tentatively have a behaviorist coming on Monday night to work on resource guarding issues, so fingers crossed that will produce results.