Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I'm in kind of a philosophical mood right now.  The day started out volunteering at my son's preschool which I love doing.  Today it was still fun but the kids were NUTS.  Then we progressed into a difficult day with clients and other business controversy.  The controversy followed me all the way to agility class today with Darcy so I was sure that it would be unproductive.  I don't know if it was the low expectations I had or what but to my surprise we had the best class ever.  Stacey had us do our first run with our arms plastered to our sides and with NO verbal cues.  I'm Italian and do obedience training - I gesture wildly and talk to my dog.  This was hard.  But Darcy was a champ - I was amazed.  Afterwards I was actually giddy with how exciting it was to see her run like that on so little communication from me.  What Stacey made us realize is that we are often confusing them with all our flailing and chatter.  It was so good to take a step back and trust my dog that she knows what to do.

That started me on a better trend of emotions.  When I got home I started looking at some photographs made by my friend John Caruso and now I am centered.  Thank you Stacey Hawk and John Caruso!

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Some are good days and some are bad. Sometimes even within a class things go from bad to good. For the last three weeks Darcy has been not feeling the agility class. She's run incredibly slowly or just balks at every obstacle. The first half of class last night was still the same. I reconsidered if I should continue doing agility with her since she just didn't seem to enjoy it. But then during the last run was a huge turn around. She ran like lightning and took all the obstacles (weave poles, wing jump, tunnel, tire and four jumps) like a champ. The whole class cheered as she finished. I can only imagine how it feels to have a good run like that in a competition!

As a little aside from my normal discussion about Darcy, I wanted to give people some good ideas for things to do to burn your dog's energy up that doesn't involve a lot of work on your part. Two reason I am thinking of this - one is that Darcy has a bit more energy as the only day care she was comfortable at, All For Doggies, just closed. And two is that I have been talking about these things to a lot of clients lately so I wanted something for them to reference. Here are some good ones:

1) Do Something Different Game: Involves getting the dog to continually perform a different behavior for a period of time. Check out earlier postings on this blog for a demo.

2) Treasure Hunt: Instead of putting your dog's food in a bowl, place small piles of it around the house so he or she has to "hunt" it down. Start out easy with the food in plain sight but you can eventually get to having the food in a room with the door ajar or under pillows or rugs. Obviously as long as the dog isn't eating the pillows or rugs!

3) Find Me Game: For this game your dog must either have a great Sit/Stay or you must have two or more people. Have the dog in a Sit/Stay or have one person hold the dog and the other people moves away to the other side of the room and calls "Find Me". When the dog reaches that other person he or she gets rewarded. Just like with the Treasure Hunt, start out easy but eventually you can be hiding in closets or behind furniture.

4) Three Card Money (sorta): Take three plastic cups (or playing cards if your dog won't eat them too) and put a treat under one of them. Move the cups around and then let them go. Your dog will undoubtedly find the treat though he or she might knock over all the cups to do it. It's a party pleaser regardless!

5) KONGS: Feeding all your dog's food in Kongs will use up mental energy in a positive manner which is always beneficial.

All these activities will burn up mental energy which is just as tiring as burning physical energy. The more energy burned throughout the day, the calmer and happier your dog will be!

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12, 2010

As happens with most people and training their dog, I too have slacked. Well, Darcy has still been in classes (just agility for now) but I haven't been good about keeping up with the information about her training. I am hoping to do that now.

Here's an update since November. Darcy and I have started volunteering for Safe Humane Chicago which we are very excited about. So far we have just gone to the orientation and gotten approved but we haven't attended any events yet.

The biggest news is that last night Darcy passed the Canine Good Citizen test! Yay! I am so proud of her!

Also as an update to previous training issues we've had with her. She hasn't destroyed anything since I wrote about the couch last (knock on wood!). We still have a bit of a problem with her getting things off the kitchen counter when we are gone but the worst we've lost is a loaf of bread. Not the best but it passed. Literally. Since it only happens when we are gone I think we just continue keeping edible things off the counter and maybe the habit will go away. It keeps our counters cleaner anyway so thank you, Darcy!

So I will try my best to keep this updated better! Hope you enjoy!