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Flashy Friday Week 2!

Flashy Friday! Week 2 -  "Spin" Whew! A whole week between posts, sorry guys! Like I've mentioned before we're pr...

Monday, March 30, 2015

Poisoned Words - Agility Part V

Agility Part V
"Poisoned Words"

In Case You Missed It!
Agility Part I - Tunnels & Circles
Agility Part II - Patience
Agility Part III - Practice at Home
Agility Part IV - Terminology
Agility Part VI - Training Fun & A Video for You!

When we first adopted Ziva we knew that her lack of confidence would be a work in progress but it was something we were willing to work with. It's amazing how positive training techniques, shaping behaviors, learning new things, and agility have all improved her overall demeanor and confidence in the world around her.

More on our Confidence Building with Ziva Here:
The Value of High Value Treats
Adopting Ziva

Ziva used to be VERY jumpy when it came to loud noises, even small ones though could startle her - something as simple as me snapping the wrinkles out of a shirt while doing laundry would make her flinch and hide.

One thing we noticed but never really thought about is what our instructor called "Poisoned Words".
Last week in agility we were introduced to the table platform, the idea is that once on the table your dog should stay there until released - usually in a down or sit position.

First she had us show off our "sits" and "downs" in the arena but not on the table. Something Ziva has always done for her "sits" and "downs" is lower herself super, duper, crazy, molasses like slow speed into position. Dante on the other hand will move as quickly as possible into position because he really loves getting treats or his toy for doing so.
As for Ziva, we've tried getting her to move faster but nothing has worked and we kinda thought it would work itself out with time and repetitions.

Nope.  Our instructor  pointed out the one thing we were missing, the missing link in the chain that we didn't see.
Every time I said, "sit" Ziva was very minutely flinch in her eyes, her ears would go back slightly, and then she would begin her extremely loooooooong downward descent. Same thing happened for down. She was showing signs of stress.

We then had some practice time on the table, Ziva didn't mind at all being up on the table but still her speed for her "sits" and "downs" was less than desirable and she continued to show stress.

Ever heard of a poisoned word?  
No signs of stress here!

A poisoned word is when aversive training methods are used to teach a dog, sometimes people call these methods traditional and thankfully the dog training world is moving further away from these techniques.

A "sit" for example can be aversively trained through Negative Reinforcement or R - in this manner a handler will put pressure on the dogs collar, while asking for a "sit". When the dog sits the pressure is released. More on Training Methods HERE.

Aversive based training (Negative Reinforcement & Positive Punishment) has been proven time and again to not be as effective for dog training.  Pennsylvania University Study Regarding Dog Aggression and Training Correlations.
Yes you can accomplish the same resulting behavior but typically at a cost to your relationship, the fact of the matter is that their are better ways to train your dog that don't involve force AND only contribute to strengthening your relationship.

Sadly most likely someone taught Ziva to sit using aversive methods, she now hears those words and does not want to sit because it is associated with something negative in her head. Our instructor informed us we needed new words.

We decided to go with French!
Our new words are:

Assis (ah-see) - Sit
Coucher (coo-shay) - Down

And after just a couple days of practice you would not believe the difference it has made! We've probably cut the time in half that it used to take her to "sit" or lay "down".

I should mention, a long time ago (not with Ziva) we used a combination of positive punishment based and positive reinforcement based training. Through lots of research we quickly learned we were doing it wrong and more could be accomplished through positive reinforcement and negative punishment techniques. Their is no way Ziva and I could train agility if we were using positive punishment training at home, she wouldn't trust me as much and she certainly wouldn't want to work for me.

Sadly many bully breed owners especially - use aversive training methods (R-, & P+) use of these methods usually involves relying heavily on a tool for a behavior or making "corrections" such as a:

Sharp jerk on a collar/leash set. 
Pressure induced through the use of a chain ("choke") collars, pinch collars, and electric shock collars in order to "train" or condition the dog to behave in a certain way.

Often times these methods don't work, or they only work so long as you have your tool. I call this lazy training, you're relying on a tool rather than your relationship and you're lacking in maybe time and patience (maybe both) to properly train your dog.

Oh look, a child can walk my 75 pound bully. NO aversive tools.

One big excuse I run into with bully owners is that bully breeds are a "hard" breed that needs a more forceful hand, this is so untrue. Bully breeds are yes maybe a bit more stubborn and hard to train than lets say a Labrador Retriever but their is no reason to think that you must use force.

As dog owners even trainers you should be constantly looking for ways to improve as a trainer, everyone makes mistakes, but a good trainer learns from their mistakes and continues to grow and learn. Knowledge is power, and the more you know the better your relationship with your dog will be and the less you'll feel the need to force your will upon a dog in order to "train".

"To assume that one has achieved total perfection in communicating with a completely different species is the height of arrogance. In other words, get over yourself. Source here."

"Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training has produced highly-motivated, high-performance dogs that have achieved the highest awards in dog activities of all kinds. Source here"

More Resources - if you click on our category topic "Training" you will find more resources, including how to shape/train specific behaviors.
Positive Training, Fear/Stress Signals in Dogs.
Signs of Stress in Dogs
Training Methods
Positive Dog Training
The Value of High Value Treats
Myths About Positive Reinforcement and Clicker Training
Coercion and Compulsion in Dog Training

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fun - Tug Time!

A Game a Brother Loves

Dante obsessively loves to play tug, it's his most favorite game in the entire world and we often use his tug as a reward during training time. Ziva isn't as into tug as Dante, but when her ball isn't around she'll sometimes engage him in a fun game.

We're very dedicated to exercising our dogs, we get out no less that twice but often 3 times a day for a walk or play time - it just depends on what's going on.

Morning is usually a walk or a light playtime.
We like to get the dogs moving because it encourages them to realize they are hungry, if we let them they'll just get up with us, go potty outside, and then curl right back up on the couch for a morning nap but then they won't eat their breakfast. Silly dogs.
Being that they aren't super food motivated, and being that we exercise so much its important for them to eat and have calories to burn.
A light exercise in the morning gets them moving, makes them hungry, and then with a full tummy they are happy to go back to sleep when we leave for work.

Sometimes in the morning hubby will run the dogs in the field by our house, he occasionally likes to bring only a rope for them to play with. This encourages them to just stretch their legs at their own pace, sniff around a bit, Dante gets to pee in all his favorite places, and then they'll engage in a fun game of tug together!  We love to watch them play, lots of silly antics occur like: racing around, tugging, and then trying to run hubby over are all a part of the game.

"Hmmmmm...smell that morning air!"

After I get off of work in the afternoon I take the dogs out for a harder exercise, this usually involves my using the chuck it to throw Ziva's ball, and then hurling Dante's rope kong as far as possible and then tugging with him as a reward for bringing it back! That's how you teach a tugger to fetch, and he loves it!

"Just throw that ball mom!"

It seems like this week has just blown past! My last term of school starts this upcoming Monday, 
we're continuing with agility even though the schedule is crazy because we've put too much into it to stop now. And besides Ziva, hubby and I all love it! At this point though i'm itching for summer, I want to do more hiking, and get Dante trained to try out agility too!

FitDog Friday

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sand Puppies

Sandy Pups! - Weekend Part 2
More of Our Dogtastic Weekend!

Sorry this took a while, the camera we are borrowing doesn't have wifi connection so it's taken a bit longer to get the pics up. 

Like previously mentioned on Weekend Part 1 - Mud Puppies, we really did have a fun weekend!
Saturday we played in the mud and Sunday we went to the coast!
Guess who joined us?

We got to doggy sit her while her family went out of town for spring break.

So I told the hubby, rain or shine the one thing I wanted to do this spring break was go to the coast. Sure enough we headed out to the Oregon Coast for it's typical wet dreary weather. But what the heck right? We were borrowing my mom's camera and wanted to play with it and the pups on the beach.
The first place we parked was just a nice State Park parking lot with rest area and beach access, so we headed down the trail took a quick peek at the beach and didn't see anyone else so we cut loose the dogs and just started playing.

But like I mentioned it was drizzling a bit. So we figured we'd head to the cove we could see just a bit farther up the beach. About halfway between the cove and the trail access to the car the heavens decided to unload upon our poor little heads a torrential downpour! Oregon style downpour.

So we began sprinting back towards the car, I almost couldn't find the trail because flash flood style it had turned into a stream! So I ran with Dante on leash because he hadn't been listening very well while we were playing, while Tex-Anna and Ziva ran hot on my heels making it back to the car. 

Sure enough we get to the car, my clothes were completely soaked through, my rain jacket was completely saturated, hubby's rain jacket was saturated, the dogs coats were get the idea. And somehow while it was still down pouring like a broken water spigot I had to get all 3 wet dogs into the car. Into the car wasn't the problem I was worried about it, was the shaking that would follow while they flung water droplets all over the interior of our vehicle. UGH....
So I tossed Dante and Ziva in quickly stripping them of their coats so they weren't too wet. Tex-Anna though? No such luck. As quick as I got a towel on her, it wasn't quick enough and soon the whole inside of the car was wet.

On a good note we did successfully cover the seats really well so the sand was contained!

A very sad me then climbed into the passenger seat and began to pout, sure it was my idea but honestly why couldn't the nice weather have held out until my spring break? I worked so hard to pass my classes last term!

Well my wonderful hubby cheered me up, reminding me of course that this whole thing was my idea. And really looking back I couldn't help but find it rather funny.
We then went out for a hot clam chowder lunch and glass of wine in Old Town Florence, Oregon. If you haven't been there it's a fun place to go with lots of great little restaurants and shops to look around in.

I'd recommend lunch at the Traveler's Cove, or Spice which is where we went for lunch on this trip. They make their own in-house chowders and have other wonderful dishes.

Despite being completely soaked we had a wonderful lunch, and just as we finished the sun came out! So we once again braved the beach. And it turned out great! It was a bit overcast but almost no wind, the tide was out, and we only saw a couple other people on the beach!

Ziva did a great job of sharing the tennis balls with Tex-Anna. I had 3 but Tex-Anna lost one, and she was mostly just enjoying chasing Ziva so we'd toss the ball for Ziva, Tex-Anna would give chase and then they'd both come back for more!

Dante on the other hand, Tex-Anna decided he play's to rough for old ladies and shortly after this shot decided his toy wasn't worth being chased for.

"In coming! Shark attack!!"

Ziva's swan dive!

We've worked long and hard on recall which is why we allowed the dogs off-leash. Tex-Anna we never have to worry about her running off because she is an amazing Border Collie, and in true Border Collie fashion she is extremely intelligent and listens amazingly well, she also has ZERO interest in other dogs, animals, bird, etc..and comes in an instant.

Our bullies on the other hand, it's mostly distractions we have to look for. Dante especially can just get carried away like a silly little boy and go on an adventure sniffing out a trail. We're working on him staying a bit closer while he explores.
He's a confident dog who loves to explore, we've been working a lot on his recall and always reward him for coming to us. On the other hand if I call him in and he ignores me - then I go get him. If I have to retrieve him then he temporarily loses his privileges and is put on a leash and has to follow me around.

Ziva being less confident likes to explore but is more interested in staying with the group. We've spent soo much time positive training with her that she comes immediately when I call, and because of such I have recently been able to call her off of chasing cats on several different instances, and was able to call her off of an obnoxious dog she felt the need to correct because he was harassing her and not respecting her space. I'm so thankful that all of our hard work with her is paying off! Her reactivity has become much less we're learning her triggers still, and she listens amazingly well off leash. 

More on Ziva's Reactivity issues we've been working on:, Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centricHeart Like a Dog

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday - Tennis Balls

Today just featuring a girl and her ball...

So want to know the trick?

Lacrosse balls! They last a lot longer than tennis balls, and unlike a tennis ball she can't destroy it in a matter of seconds! So for now tennis balls are for fetch and lacrosse balls are for chewing. Given the choice she'll always pick a tennis ball over any other type of ball we've tried. And we've tried many, basketballs are kind of fun, she likes slightly deflated playground balls, softballs don't last more than 30 seconds, soccer balls she isn't really interested in, hard rubber balls are ok but tennis balls are the real dream for this silly gal.

 I think she likes how she can squish them and have them entirely slobber soaked. Ooshy, gooshey, slimy, so much so that when I chuck her tennis ball I am sometimes sprayed with collateral spit as the ball goes whizzing through the air.

"Ahhh, tennis ball. Oh how I love thee..."

Bowling for pibbles!

Sorry this week has gotten out of hand, I'll have part II up soon I promise! We got some great pictures I just need to finish editing and post them.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Mud Puppies

Muddy Dogs - weekend part 1
We had an awesome dogtastic weekend!

The weekend started off with a trip to the lake, hubby ran with Ziva and my mom while I ran with Dante and a friend. 4 miles later for Dante and I, 13 miles later for Ziva we finished up and headed off to my mom's (Dante and Ziva's grandmas) house for lunch.

My parents are currently in the process of building their new house and the workers were out working on the roof so if we were anywhere near the house the dogs had to be leashed just in case because their were sharp things lying about and we didn't want them to hurt their feet.

The house behind me will be torn down once the new one is built. The new one is off to the left you can't see it in this.

On a good note though they have a huge field that was safe to unleash and run the dogs through. They got super muddy and we played in the pond!

Dante the panther stalking the stick!

We even got Ziva to swim and normally she is not a fan of the water!

Zoomies!! This one focused on his butt not his face but I still love it!

We're also playing with my mom's camera, she's letting us borrow it. Hubby has gotten the photography bug so he's been doing a lot of research. We're still beginners but we want to learn more about photography and we'd like to get an awesome camera for doggy agility and just better overall pictures.

Mud baby Ziva.
Part 2 of the weekend i'll have up later, we went to the beach! And the photos turned out amazing! Stayed tuned for more!

Bloghop (1)

Friday, March 20, 2015

Agility Part IV

Agility Terminology
We Use With Ziva
Part IV

In Case You Missed it!
Agility Part I - Tunnels & Circles
Agility Part II - Patience
Agility Part III - Practice at Home
Agility Part V - Poisoned Words

Whew!! We're back! So for an update, if you remember Dante and Ziva managed to pick up kennel cough from daycare despite the fact that they are vaccinated. Sadly it kept Ziva out of agility for 2 weeks! And we couldn't do much practicing because exercise made her cough. Well even though she was sick hubby and I went to practice to continue learning and to take home homework.

Finally as of last week Ziva was able to go back to agility and we rocked! I rocked? She rocked? Our trainer is always saying its the human's who need the training but i'm going to just give kudos to our awesome teamwork!

The course was tunnel, tight turn around a jump, and then tunnel again.

We did it perfectly!

The next course was tunnel, jump, tunnel, jump, tunnel... It took us two tries because of me. I stepped right in her path coming back for the jump and she veered. But on the second shot I managed to stay out of her way while directing her back over the jump and back through the blue tunnel.

She did great! She was so excited about the tunnels that she wouldn't give me a good sit stay, but that was ok because we wanted her to remain enthusiastic. We solved the waiting by having my trainer hold Ziva back and then release her when I called.

While Ziva and Dante were sick we did as much practicing as we could both indoors and out, depending on how she was feeling. We've been working on things like our circle work, "target", sit stays, "wait", "touch", perching on objects, and "dig, dig" all of which are agility related. We use some different words from my trainer but that's fine to do as long as you are consistent with your dog and your commands.

I'd like to explain a bit more in detail what we're doing and the terminology we use.
I'm no expert though, we are definitely beginners and just starting but hopefully this will make sense to you. We're having tons of fun!

Circle Work -  Our instructor is obsesses about this one...but i'm ok with that! The goal is to be able to run a very large circle with your dog off-leash. You should ultimately be able to run this circle both clock, and counter-clockwise, dog on the inside and dog on the outside in both directions. This is important for agility work because your dog needs to pay attention and stay with you without crossing in front or behind your back, and not changing sides unless you (the handler) change sides or ask them to switch.
This has been a hard one for Ziva, she likes to "blind cross" me (cross behind me) while i'm running and being on my left side is a challenge for her. But we've been working hard!
Our way of practicing is to go out to the field near our house, I put her in position (whichever side I choose) and we run. So long as she can do a circle with me I reward her by tossing the ball down my "line" this is an invisible line that she's not supposed to cross. When you first begin you want to break it up into tiny pieces for your dog, but at this point Ziva knows what I want her to do, she just occasionally gets distracted. If she doesn't do the circle with me or if I have to stop, then we start over and she doesn't get the ball. No leashes, no frustration, we have a lot of fun!

Target -  Our instructor uses the word "touch" but we already have "touch" designated for a different behavior. "Target" in this case means I want her back paws on the object and her front paws in the dirt. This is important for making sure that certain "marks" are made on obstacles in an agility arena. 

Sit Stays - Rather than use the word "stay" our instructor prefers that if we ask for a "sit" then our dog's butt should remain in that position until the release word is given. Ziva's release word is "ok". I should be able to put her in a sit in front of an obstacle, "lead out" and then release her to catch up to me.

Wait -  This is something we do at home but it works for our training too! When I ask for a wait it is less formal than a "stay" but the idea remains the same. We usually use "wait" when I want her in a standing position for a start. She has to "wait" there for me to release her. Again our practice takes place in the field, I put her on whatever side I want, as for a "wait" chuck her tennis ball as far as possible, and then release her when she is giving me strong eye contact.

Touch - I put out my hand and ask her to "touch" her nose to it. This command works great for getting her attention back when it strays, like with squirrels for example. "Touch" is only associated with rewards so she knows something awesome is going to happen when she does!

Dig, Dig - Tight turn around a jump, Ziva's a champ at this! Still working on her turning counter-clockwise but she can go clockwise perfectly.

This last week at agility was another success! We practiced tight turns, tunnels, and the chute!
The chute is a collapsible tunnel that the dog must push their way through. She did so great at taking the chute from whatever angle I put her at that we were allowed to begin using the word, "chute". We aren't allowed to use the command until the dog can show that they understand the concept.

Not our chute but a great example!
Can't wait until next week! We have two makeup days to go play in the arena since Ziva was sick for two weeks in a row. We're hoping to get in there this weekend!

I'm very proud of my little girl. We started this for her and i'm having fun too! As long as she keeps enjoying herself we'll keep it up!

FitDog Friday

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Saint Patricks Day!

Happy St. Patty's Day!

Agility is going great!! I'll have an update soon!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How to Build Your Relationship With Your Dog

We were featured by our friend over at!

I wrote a post entitled, 

How To Build your Relationship with your Dog

Head on over and check it out!, Thankful Thursday Weekly Blog Hop, pet centric

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Spring is Glorious!

Wordless Wednesday

I always fail at wordless, my goal is to just be short!

We went for a trail run on Sunday, the weather was perfect! Beautiful, sunny, and kinda cold so it was the perfect temperature for exercising.

Dante helped me clean out my raised garden beds on Sunday.

Dante and Ziva are still showing a few Kennel Cough symptoms but I think we're past the worst of it! The vet says they can go back to daycare on Monday!

Aside from that, it's crunch time for me! Finals for this term are just a little over a week away! Yikes! I'm just trying to hold it together at this point so our posts might be few and far between, but feel free to find us on Instagram! We're constantly updating and posting photos there.


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