Only three weeks left in my full time temporary shift at work. There is the chance I will get to sign another one towards the end of October but I will definitely be going back to casual status after Sept 21. It has been so great working 7-3 all summer; if I do get to sign another full time temp it will be nights for sure. Hailey pointed out that working nights during the winter won't be so bad because it's dark early. I have my fingers crossed that I do get to sign again because I would like to build up a small fund for things like car maintenance, emergency dog stuff, etc.
Hailey and I took the pack out to a section of the dyke that we haven't been to in ages because there has been a horse trailer parked there every time we go by and our dogs are not horse-friendly. There were piles of horse poop that the dogs thought were a buffet of snacks laid out especially for them, so the walk was punctuated by shouts of "LEAVE IT!"
At one point Hailey stopped dead and said, "Bear!" Across the creek there was an adolescent black bear chest deep in the water, brown muzzle pointed towards us. We called the dogs to us in happy voices and Hailey threw cookies into the grass so the dogs would be occupied while we stood there and looked back at the bear. Luckily we were downwind so the dogs happily scrounged for cookies and we could enjoy the moment. After a minute or two the bear turned and disappeared into the bushes.
I love living so close to the dykes – on this walk alone we saw the bear, had Canada geese fly overhead honking, and saw a coyote. Or maybe a dog. Or a cross between the two. *lol* From what we could see (it was dusk) it looked very coyote, but it stood on a small hill at the side of the dyke and alarm barked at us (much more dog-like behaviour than coyote). Maia did not respond to it like a coyote. She usually gets fear body language when she hears or smells one – her ears go flat against her head, her tail tucks under, and she puts herself in a sit directly in front of me on the path until I turn around and go back towards the car. She did not do any of that when this coydog yipyipyiped at us. She also did not respond like she normally would if a dog barked at us, which would be to bounce and bark back at it.
I started working on a 'finish' with Maia when we were out on our walk. She has a gorgeous auto-heel that she will put herself into on my right side – I never taught her a heel but the right side has always been her side. With her reactivity I always put her on my right side and then passed people on the sidewalk on the right, so that she had my body as a buffer. When I adopted Bosco he became my left side dog for the rare times they are both on leash. I would like to do rally with both of them one day when I have money (yeah right!) so having a heel command and a finish are good things. I did it by pulling her (as in agility pulling, not actually physically pulling!) around my left side with my left hand, around my back, then switching to my right hand to bring her up beside me at my right side, and into a sit. It took a couple tries but once she understood what I wanted she was circling around behind me and into a sit. She also stayed in the sit until I released her, even when I walked forward, even though I didn't ask specifically for that. Good girl!
I was inspired by a recent post on Team Unruly to try perch work with the dogs. When we got home I got out a small folding stool and cut up a bunch of chicken hot dogs. I brought Maia in the kitchen first to try. She is not a dog that can be shaped. If she doesn't know what I want she lies down. She didn't want to step on the stool so that is what she defaulted to. I didn't want to frustrate her when we hadn't done clicker training in months so I put the stool aside and did a bunch of sit/down/stand/touch.
Bosco was next. He has a 'paws up' command for my bed. Sometimes when his joints are achy he can't hop up onto my bed so he will put his front paws up and I will boost his bum. That turned into a 'paws up' that I can ask for. He wasn't sure about the stool but I asked for 'paws up' while holding a piece of hot dog up and he flailed his paws, landed on the stool, got clicked, and was like, "Ok! I can do this!" I jackpotted him a few times for getting his paws on the stool, then started asking him to 'off' and then 'paws up' again for a single click each time. He is *so* enthusiastic for the clicker.
Monster was next. She was also flailing her paw around in her efforts to get the click, which was hilarious. She caught on quickly what I wanted so her turn went fast.
Then Dennis. Hailey had the clicker for him but I was in the kitchen too. He did not want to put his paw on the stool so I picked up his front end and placed his paws on it. Click/treat. Did it again. Click/treat. Then his brain turned on and he was putting his paws up on his own.
Once I get the dogs reliably putting their paws on the stool when they see it, I'm going to start getting them to move around it on their back legs. Yay for hind end awareness!