Toes for Treats

 

I really don’t have time for a blog post today, but this is for everyone who’s been told “dogs just don’t like having their nails clipped” (or going to the vet, or being brushed, or whatever).

Of course they don’t like such things straight out of the womb. Those are unnatural, weird human ideas. But we can condition them to enjoy and participate in all kinds of weird games.

So today I went to the drawer where I keep the nail trimmers, and Penny looked up. (I wasn’t even facing her, much less talking to her.) I picked up the trimmers, and she dropped a bully stick from her mouth and ran to me.

So of course we trimmed nails. And of course she got some treats for quietly holding her paws in my hands, which is what she expected and why she thinks nail trimming is a dumb game but worth the time to play.

Afterward, she went back to her bully stick (a favorite treat) and carried on.

It’s all about how you train this stuff!

Recall Roundup

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Black Labrador Mindy in her green service vest beside an enormous prickly pear

Last November — yes, I’m more than a little behind on posting — Mindy took a trip with me down to my aunt’s ranch in Texas. I knew this would be an exciting trip for her for a variety of reasons, not least of which that the ranch is a seriously cool place for puppies to explore, with lizards, snakes, rabbits, deer, boar, turkeys, and many other things. (Some of these are fun to watch or even chase; some should be explored by sniffing their tracks only.)

The ranch is big, but not so big that a dog couldn’t find her way off it and get into local trouble. I would never have allowed Laev off-leash even for a moment there, if I’d ever taken her; Laev would have tangled with a rattlesnake and then chased a rabbit or deer straight off into a neighboring sheep ranch. There’s a ranch gate on the road which for years has been decorated with the hanging bodies of the latest coyotes or dogs which had been shot while hunting or harassing their stock. Continue reading

Puppy Goes Hiking

This entry is part 17 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Just a fun post of a day out with Mindy!

We went hiking at Turkey Run State Park. Mindy wore her Gentle Leader, which we don’t generally use but which she’s supposed to be desensitized to, just in case it’s ever needed in the future. I figured the best way to desensitize her is to put it on just before something really fascinating and fun, so this is her second walk/hike with it. She’s already used to it, because who can fuss about a (properly-fitted) Gentle Leader when we’ve got a whole woods to explore? Continue reading

Puppy Training on a FitPAWS Donut

This entry is part 16 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

So apparently I forgot to publish this blog post — sorry!

Set the Wayback Machine for a few months ago, when Mindy was small enough to use this size FitPAWS Donut. The weather was too bad (sub-zero Fahrenheit) for puppies to play outdoors for long, and this was not only a great energy burn, but an important skill development for a dog expected to handle lots of surfaces and challenges in her career. Continue reading

Practicing Recalls

This entry is part 14 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

I’ve been traveling a lot lately, which has distracted me from the blog. But some of those travels are going to provide fun new blog posts, so in the long run it’s been worth it.

But now that I’m home, it’s more obvious that Mindy’s starting to mature, in that way when puppies are no longer quite so dependent on us for every little asset and therefore feel more comfortable to venture out on their own for more and longer periods of time. Or, as clients more typically phrase it when they call me, “she doesn’t want to come when I call.”

guinea fowlTo be perfectly fair to Mindy, my yard has gotten a lot more interesting. I’ve acquired a small flock of guinea fowl to combat the local ticks, and they were just turned loose this week. They’re still clinging near the house, and they are FASCINATING to a young retriever. Continue reading

The Unseen Fun of a Service Dog’s Life

This entry is part 8 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
I'm not sure I've ever known a puppy who didn't like the chewing texture of wood.

I’m not sure I’ve ever known a puppy who didn’t like the chewing texture of wood. Our rule is, you can sample the pieces in the firewood holder, but not furniture. Seems to be a good deal so far.

Several people have asked me questions about service dogs, whether they’re always “on the job” or could have normal dog lives. A few were under the heartbreaking impression that because one isn’t supposed to pet service dogs while they’re working, that service dogs aren’t ever to be petted, even at home.

Definitely not the case! Continue reading

Day 2 with the Guide Dog puppy: Moving Fast

This entry is part 4 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

IMAG0246So yeah, lots of puppy posts. Not gonna apologize.

This one’s a little less “aww!” and a little more training-oriented. I’ve got to type fast, though, because I just put the pup down for a nap after a big afternoon! Continue reading

The First Day is a Big Day

This entry is part 3 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training
Yes, your face WILL stick like that.

Yes, your face WILL stick like that.

A California puppy haiku:

Snow is weird and cold.
OMG! You can eat it!
Ow-wow-wow brain freeze.

Due to a lucky “break” in our cold snap, Mindy experienced only a 70-degree drop in temperature when we arrived home late Monday night. I took her out to urinate on the new paving stones installed for her toilet (GDB puppies learn to urinate on concrete, for the easy of urban work later) and watched it freeze beneath her. Brr! Continue reading

A Behaviorial Look at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

The setup for NaNoWriMo at home, if I need to ...

photo by clickthing.blogspot.com/2008/10/tennish-anyone.html

So right now a lot of writing friends and I are stocking up on coffee, candy, and Prozac, building our bunkers for National Novel Writing Month (fondly known as NaNoWriMo). Only I don’t like coffee, so I make up for it with chocolate. To each her own.

NaNoWriMo is a blitz to write at least 50,000 words in 30 days. (Of course, no, one isn’t writing a publishable book in 30 days, nor is 50,000 words a complete novel in nearly any genre. But that’s not exactly the point, either, so work with us here.)

Considering that at my sugar-and-caffeine-induced perfect zone, I peak at about 1000 words per hour, and that’s not really sustainable — I know a lot of professionals who are quite pleased with 250 words per hour — and considering that normal life doesn’t actually suspend for most of us, you can see the challenge here. So motivation and discipline are big concepts for the NaNo community.

There are lots of ways NaNo writers motivate themselves, but it boils down to several commonly-used terms — small incentives, big incentives, anti-incentives, and rituals.

Let’s look at them from a professional behavior perspective, and maybe you’ll find them useful for any big projects you’re facing. Continue reading

Polite and Pushy Deer

Nara deer beg for handouts outside a shop on S...

Nara deer beg for handouts outside a shop on Sanjo Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday my friend Mark sent me a page about polite and, hmm, less polite deer in Japan. And of course (as he suspected would happen) my little behavior brain took over, and we have here not only a great example of deer learning to work a system of tourists, but how we unintentionally create behaviors both cute and dangerous in our pets. Continue reading