Thursday, September 13, 2007

tracking imprinting

We started imprinting for tracking, which involves having the pups search for their breakfast in the grass.  I use small pieces of Natural Balance to begin with , as it is a tasty treat for them and easy to chew quickly, leaving them wanting more.  At first the puppies want to follow my hand or sit and look at me to have a reward delivered, since that has been their experience.  It is a new thing to look for food on the ground, so being patient and letting them learn is required.  This will require multiple opportunities for them to find their meals, so that they don't go hungry, until I see that they *get it*.  Just one more learning experience for them to put in their puppy toolbox!

Note to Self....

Note to self:  do not let puppies out in the morning wearing drawstring pajamas.

It is a difficult decision to elect to hold pants up (even on 40 acres there IS such a thing as modesty) or try and shag them off, but the ouch-ouch-ouch dance just serves to incite them.  I ran right out of my flip flops in my escape!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Crate Training

The Pupsters are learning to spend the night in individual crates.  This is a big step from hanging out with your buddy, to sleeping alone!  Waaahhhhh!!  The first night, I resorted to wearing shooting muffs.  Nine puppies, all complaining at escalating decibel levels is not pleasing to the ears.  Where one might eventually settle down, nine of them just churn the waters and keep it going. Using the mid-sized crates I had utiltized for the pointers was simply not going to work with this many puppies unless I wanted to build an addition, so off to the  store I went and purchased 9 new puppy-sized crates.

I then added labels with their names, so that I can tell who is staying dry all night, etc.  The first night I fed them too late and it came out the other end too early in the morning. ick.  We've gotten it down to a better schedule now, with no food/water after 8 pm.  This morning there were no messes.  Still too many complaints to be pleasant, but that will come and your ear drums will thank me!

The weather is turning cool here, and I let them play out in the paddock until later in the evening, then they come in to the house to play before bed.  Last night they all got pig ears and ooohhhh was that a treat!  Some carried them around like prizes (Rainbow), some retreated to a location where no one could steal theirs (Red) and some just stole whichever ones they wanted (Orange and Cooper).  The concept was to tire them out before bedtime.  Good thought, only a couple hours of tugging and pig ears apparently wasn't a fair trade to being confined, in their opinion!  Well, by the time they meet their new owners we will have that little hurdle crossed and you will never know the auditory torture I went through.  What did you say??

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Urban Mushing

I'm not endorsing this product; I haven't tried it (can't afford it, frankly) but it sounds interesting.  If anyone decides to give it a try be sure and let us know if it works well.  It is a new dog scooter design where the dog/dogs are behind the steering wheel, thus giving the rider precision steering control and the dog can only go forward, not to the side.  Sounds like something that might be fun in the city (bearing in mind that your dog could not escape roaming neighborhood dogs).  As for me, it might be risky on the county highway and I am probably safer negotiating the ATV off road...





Sunday, September 2, 2007

Hunde aus Laufen

When I was in Germany, at the Police dog handlers school, every morning we participated in "hunde aus laufen".  This far removed, I am not certain my spelling is correct, but it translates to "dogs out running" and we would take all the patrol dogs in our class, in muzzle, for a long walk together. 

My Wisconsin version of this is to take the dogs out running with the ATV. We have mowed paths around the property and I think one circuit is a mile. I take the dogs out in groups and they get to stretch out and feel the grass under their feet, sometimes stop and take a dip in the creek.

Tonight Ali and Roya went first.  Roya, with her swinging underparts (never releasing the retriever bumper in her mouth, ever hopeful that I would throw it for her!) and Ali, who moves a little restricted in the rear yet, ran at a moderate speed.  The next circuit included Jinx, Bart and Digit.  Bart and Digit are both whole males, Dutch Shepherds, and I love that I can run them together, especially with a female.  Every now and then Bart will try a shoulder bump into Digit and I tell him to knock it off but there is no skirmish or disagreement.  Jinx far outruns everyone else.  She reminds me of a cheetah or a greyhound, collapsing her spine and then extending with incredible reach.  The speed and abandon alternately inspire awe and fear. 

Jinx took a second turn, running with Quinn.  I could smell wood smoke from the neighbor's campfire and watching the dogs run at sunset, on a beautiful green path bordering the woods, was a perfect end to the day.  I found another turkey feather, too, and in a different location than before so I know they are still there and moving around.

The last to run were puppies, and they only run around the yard!  They gather around and chase the chamois and the other toys, bite and tug and argue over who gets the most attention.  The dusk fades to dark, odd duck calls interject from the neighbor's campfire gathering (he trains retrievers and that must be some odd party entertainment. I think it involves alcohol.) and the puppies sack out here and there.  There are so many good things to be grateful for, despite the fact that "labor" never gets to take a day off when you have this many dogs.  A wonderful day, indeed.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

We have EARS!!

Ears! We have ears!  This morning when I went to the Puppy Suite to take them out to greet the day, I was met by the sight of ears up on Cooper and half-mast on some others.  Within a few days I expect all the ears will be up, and then you will be able to get a sense of their little faces.  The erect ears really give a sense of personality to the pupsters.  Cooper doesn't need to feel stronger but I wonder if his new set of stand-up ears is giving him a big head, as he was a horrible bully this evening.  The Pupsters are enjoying chasing the chamois and tugging, and we played at some baby leg bites by creating a bite bar with the soft, fuzzy frisbee and holding in against my calf.  I desperately need some other surface between my flesh and those sharp puppy teeth now, and sitting on the ground with the vampire pack is no longer a cuddle fest.  Ouch! Ouch! I flinch away from the one attacking me from behind, which only incites the one of my side, and I have to jump to my feet!  Oh, what a joyful time!