Calm rational outing

Excellent day.

We went first to the pet store to get him a pulling harness for the kicksled we can't use because it's above zero and all the snow has melted.

He clearly recognizes the pet store parking lot and is eager to get inside. Two backups for walking ahead of me, but he wasn't pulling. Inside he looked at people and wagged but only jumped once at the last minute. Very nice. When he's standing around he's standing, not pulling. When we're moving he's light as a feather and almost stays out of all the treats. "Suddenly" I can enjoy going into the place without thinking constantly about him flossing teeth or knocking anything over.

I bought him a harness - nice one with a handle on the back I can hold without bending over, and a Siwash front to encourage him to pull into it when he's attached to something gullible. Put it on him and - same story as the snood he didn't want to wear. Put his head down and pouted. Same sort of behaviour he'd give me if I gave him leash corrections - exceptionally well behaved but no spark.

Still, there were treats and a new bone and people to wag at and he was over it by the time we left. I let him wear it in the crate in the car while he was eating his bone. Then we went outside Canadian Tire and played the watch-people-go-by game again and did some sit stays and heeling. The great news is that, given a minute to look around, he doesn't seem to care where he is as far as working is concerned. When I let him stand around, he watched and wagged. When I worked, he was engrossed in the work and ignored everything and everybody. Perfect.

I need to start taking him out to the car on leash, he's scanning for feral cats. When he spots one, he chases it, and doesn't come back until the cat has disappeared into the barn. This is a non-starter. Sorry bud.

And another alien encounter - a guy approached to pet and said his buddy also had Bouviers. His male was at least 18" taller than Spider and he sold semen for $1500 a pop. I smiled. Yep. 43" Bouvier. Impressive.

Anyway, excellent outing..

Woot! Heeling!

No, not heeling yet, but I'm getting glimpses. Syn got it right away, eye contact, then trotting to the left, then chasing the treat. Spider didn't have a clue yesterday but he slept on it. After three or four reps this evening he discovered he was having fun. Eye contact, then follow me when I started running backwards. I didn't think I could but I got him trotting even in the short space of my kitchen. I've GOT to keep doing this, I'm actually kind of excited about obedience again. The national Specialty is in Red Deer (9 hours? drive) in April, hopefully after my new shoulder gets installed. No hope for conformation since I can't strip him - can only brush in 2-minute stretches once a day - but obedience and rally might be doable if I keep it up.

He's the first Giant I ever had who didn't have a CD before 7 months (except for Panda who got hit by a car and finished at 11 months after her spine was rehabbed). I'm certainly not taxing his little thinker.


Wonderful/odd day today.

Spider and I worked outside Best Buy and Winners today (Black Saturday). He did a wonderful job. He acknowledged every person who walked by us with a glance and a wag, but looked right back to make eye contact with me. Kids were harder, he got his whole body into the wags, but came back immediately when they were obviously walking by and didn't lunge at them.

I started the day with him on his halter. After five minutes I switched the leash from the halter to the collar but left the halter on him. Another five and I took the halter off and worked him only on the collar.

I let him talk to anybody who asked, asking them to please stop touching him if his feet came off the ground. I confess I had a good grip on his collar and stopped him from jumping several times, but overall he did a good job of controlling himself (that is, he put his paroxysms of delight into winding himself around their hands instead of going for their throats (tongue to throats that is, not teeth).

Two funny things happened. Given somebody working a very large dog on one side of a sidewalk with a shopping cart in the middle of the walk, what weird person takes the path of the red arrow? Didn't stop, didn't say hello, didn't sneak in a pat, no other traffic.

Strange. Spider was wonderful, did his usual glance and wag and came back as usual.

And... I got schooled. Woman with a kid about 5 came along, asked if she could pet. This was just after I took the halter off. I said yes, but he's young and please take your hands off him if his feet come off the ground and give him a chance to collect himself.

So she comes really close to him, hovers over him, and puts her hands all over him. This is too much and he starts with little hops, at which point she says "You're gonna love this little trick!" and grabs his collar, pulls it up really snug against his jawbones and starts to pull up while her other hand slides back to smack his butt. At that point I grabbed his collar back and pulled him back with me saying "No, thanks, we don't do that". You could see the thought go through her brain - oh, a cookie pusher! And she turned around, grabbed the kid, and left. Good reminder to me (if I needed it) to keep my hands off other people's dogs without permission.

When we got home we did some more dumbbell work. Today he has many questions about exactly what will get paid - one canine outside the bar and one inside? No. Lips hanging on but incisors closed with no grip? No. He even deliberately threw it back on his molars, staring at me as he asked the question. He can hold with me now for 8 seconds with a lovely quiet mouth. I tossed a few - he can't think what to do with the dumbbell if it's more than 5 feet away from us, but if I toss a treat over near it, he'll notice it once he's out there. Tossed closer, he can bring it back today in only two stages.

And then we started working through Shade Whitesel's Shaping Heeling class. I was so inspired by the outing that I started working heeling with both Spider and Syn. Short sessions of eye contact from in front, then me walking backwards, and rewarding behind me from my left hand. Syn's so ridiculously happy to be working again she can hardly contain herself. Spider not so much, didn't have a clue what I was doing.

Birthday present

I confess I'm overloaded on many fronts - pain is uncontrolled, too many drugs are leaving me groggy, stress from parents, guilt over not training enough. Yadda yadda.

Anyway, yesterday and today we worked on retrieving. Yesterday he Got It. He suddenly made the leap from pulling and mouthing the dumbbell to holding it - and it was dramatic. Lipping, rolling, yanking, getting clicked for the smallest break in movement - and suddenly he grabbed the bar, closed his mouth on it, and made solid steady eye contact with me. This? Yes, little one! This!

And today he has it in his brain. With very little discussion he was able to pick it up from the floor and hold it long enough for me to get it. From there, another very small discussion for him to pick it up and continue to hold it while I reached for it and held it with him.

Finally I was able to toss it 5' away and have him bring it back and hold with me, albeit in three steps (pick it up and bring it close, pick it up and give it to me, pick it up and remember to hold on to it when I reach for it). And I ALMOST got to pet him on the head while he held it.

Then I took him for a run in the mud.

Beaver Boy


While I was out of town he and Syn were alone in the dog room and yard while Ron was working half days. He got bored. He took out a half-inch-thick rubber mat AND this hearty and innocent 2x4.

This concludes the Beaver Segment of the immigration test. He has only to take part in a successful moose hunt to finish the requirements for his Canadian citizenship.

A brain appears

We had a lovely session with the dumbbell yesterday. Got lots of nice quiet holds of at least a couple of seconds, and I was able to let go of it a few times as long as I kept his chin palm rest available. It's easier for him to think when he's lying down. Have to remember that.

And this morning he's showing a Giant Schnauzer brain. His favourite little soft ball that is the only thing he chews but doesn't shred hid under the couch. I saw the lightbulb go on. He came and got me and led me back to show me where the ball had gone. I lifted up the couch so he could get the ball. He got it. I put the couch back down. He DELIBERATELY rolled it under the couch again. Yes he bloody well did.

I lifted up the couch and got the ball myself and tossed it away into the kitchen. He brought it back and rolled it under the armoire. I moved the armoire and he got the ball. I turned around and he was rolling it into the middle of my office chair legs - and yep, it got stuck in there.

I see Hell gaping open in front of me. I HAVE to show him how to roll the ball down stairs so he can chase it without it getting lost.

Long day training

First to the bathing pet store for a walk-about. Very well-behaved. I WILL use the halter for some time to come, but I want to use it as little as I can because it's really easy to see how using it becomes a habit. It's very easy to think that he's controlling himself when it's the halter that's doing the job. It's easy to think the leash is loose because I can control him with only a little pressure on the halter. It would be easy to think he was learning things that he isn't actually learning. The halter is ONLY a means to get him out and about so he can see that meeting people calmly is more fun than not meeting them at all, and also, unfortunately, a means of controlling him physically while my shoulder is screaming for mercy. Four more bloody months until I get a new one (I can't believe I let Ron talk me into waiting that long - obviously it didn't hurt as much then as it does now), and then as I understand it, another three or four of rehab, and we really want to have Syn ready for Courier Excellent and Masters Water Dog next summer.

I bought them a kicksled.
Of course he's too young to do any actual work yet, but I'm hoping once the city walking trails get hard packed, Syn will show him how to pull it. She does 90% of the work no matter what dog she's running with (which was truly an adventure with Syn and Stitch in Brace Draft Dog where I spent the entire course surreptitiously whispering at Stitch to at least LOOK like she was doing something and at Syn to rein back and let Stitch do some of it). Combine that with my shoulder and fibromyalgia and we might get a couple of blocks of actual pulling involved. He won't be old enough for draft tests next summer, but that'll give him a good start.

I still have my dear old racing dog sled
but it's badly in need of varnish and retaping, new runners wouldn't hurt, and it won't fit in car, whereas the kicksled folds flat.

Anyway, back to Bobo.

After the store adventure, we spent a couple of hours working with Barbara and Dori. Barb and I had lots to talk about so Spy and Dori had a good loooong wrestle and rip - backwards, I believe strongly in training and THEN playing - and then we worked.

We got a lot done - crossed off another five or six Level 2 behaviours. Even though it feels like I'm hardly doing anything, we seem to be getting through the behaviours nicely. He has virtually nothing in the way of duration, but distances are great. He especially loves behaviours that involve objects - jump and go-around and go to mat and crate.

One that we tried about a month ago that didn't go well that we got a really good start on today was shutting a cabinet door. The first time we tried it he kept banging into the door and shutting it with his hip (see the entry from yesterday with the cat food cans) - got the job done but not what I wanted. This time he got targeting the spot on the wall immediately and closed the door four times. He doesn't have that one yet. So far he thinks the click is for poking the door with his nose but hasn't done it enough that I can start letting the click of the door be his click.

Tomorrow we'll work on the retrieve some more, and then I'll be off to Saskatoon for another few days.

The Screamer

In his regular pet store yet again yesterday with his halter on, he was brilliant. Next time we'll try it without.

So we went to a new shop, and at the cash register there was a Screamer. OH MY GOD I NEVER KNEW THERE WERE BIG ONES! OOOH HE'S SO CUTE! HELLO SWEEEETIEEEE! Oh. My. Gawd. Greeting Dogs 101, lady - NO SCREAMING. No dancing around waving your hands as if your fingers are on fire, no bouncing up and down.

In retrospect, he was actually remarkable sane, although nowhere near sane. With the help of the halter I managed to keep his feet on the floor and, when he seemed incapable of cooperating, to turn him back toward me, get eye contact, and remind him to breathe, after which he turned back and did a pretty good job of saying hello.

Then we walked calmly around the store for half an hour, sniffing dog food and keep "our" noses away from the unwrapped treats. And then... and then... and then I called his name because he was getting too far ahead of me just as we walked by an entire shelf of stacked little cans of cat food, and dear little Ferdinand turned immediately back to see what I wanted, this wiping out the entire shelf with his butt. There were cans everywhere. I tried to help pick up, but I wasn't much help seeing as how I was trying to keep him from eating the cans and flossing the screamer's teeth at the same time. After we got them picked up I figured I'd better buy something and then we left.


Today we went to the physiotherapist again. Remarkably, since his last visit two weeks ago, his front feet have straightened out
and on the way home, he spotted some Gigglers (obviously he thought they were kin to the Screamer) in the parking lot:

Sorry about the leash, he caught me by surprise.

We've got some stretching and massaging homework to do to keep his front end loose. Apparently galloping through the snow tightens it up.


He's got the pet shop cased. He can greet everybody in there politely. Time to try the other pet shop. Then we'll go back to the first one and try it without the halter. He was also good in front of Costco today, but it was too cold to stay for long.

Last night he fell off the bed. At least he woke up this time. Let me describe the talent it takes to fall out of bed, though. It's a waterbed. Basically a water balloon inside a bed-shaped cup. I couldn't fall out of it. Babies can't fall out of it. He's amazing.

Halters! Yes!

Went to the vet first this afternoon to get some pills for Stitch and a weight on Spider. 29.5 kg. Spent some wonderful time in the waiting room. Peed outside before we went in, walked politely through the door. I had to back up a few times to get out of the porch and into the waiting room on a loose leash, but once we got in he was lovely. Got on the scale (he loves to get on things)(he lives to get on things). Then we hung around a bit as various dogs went in and out. He was particularly enamoured of a very nice Greyhound with a coat and a pretty necklace. The owner and I agreed that they could meet if Spider could keep his paws on the ground. He couldn't. And then he had his long-expected hissy fit about having a halter on that prevented him from talking to the Grey. Lay down on the floor pawing at it. It was vehement but very short-lived. Once he stopped and settled down, he got to sniff the Grey's butt. Another couple of minutes of hanging with the odd reward for being civilized and we walked out on a sweet loose leash.

Next stop was Home Depot where we spent half an hour outside the entrance. Again, a polite walk from the car to the entrance. Spider wagged his tail every time he saw a person approaching, but maintained his composure, seeing a person and then turning to me to get a treat. Eventually people came and asked (!) to speak to him. I explained that he was young and in love but otherwise safe, and he got to meet a LOT of people. MUCH easier to keep his feet on the ground with the halter, mostly due to the mechanics of the situation. A tight leash doesn't have to go through his neck to his nose, but pulls his nose away directly. By the end of the half hour he was still overcome with glee by every person who touched him, but it was taking him longer to lose his cool and he was spending very little time trying to leap.

One lovely couple came up and said "We used to have a Giant Schnauzer!" I asked them where they got it and they said "From Sue Ailsby". That was funny. Good people from 30 years ago! They gave Spy a good scrub in all the right places.

And eventually a lovely loose-leash walk back to the car.

We were out for 6 hours, what with one chore and another, and once again I'm struck by what a blessing it is to have a dog who's good in the car. Little man didn't make a peep all day. The large delicious bone in his crate was only partially responsible for his behaviour. He's a good pup.

First hold!

Had a lovely session this afternoon.

We went in the parlour to work on retrieving. He's always up and ready anytime I look like I might be heading for the parlour. So we sat down and I started handing him the dumbbell. He doesn't have a solid hold yet, he thinks if I haven't clicked yet he must have to rearrange it in his mouth, and he really thinks he should be getting it out of my hand, but he's eager to grab it. It's getting better.

As he was grabbing, I decided to teach him to rest his chin on my palm. That took about 5 reps to get because Giants have very heavy heads and kind of know it's good to have places to rest them. Then I had his chin in my hand and handed him the dumbbell with the other hand, which slowed down the grabbing and yanking a bit.

Then I put it on the floor to do some shaping to go to it, but he short-circuited that by going right to it and picking it up. Sometimes I can grab it before he drops it, sometimes I can't. I'm not in any way pretending he's understanding the getting-it-to-me part (which is the part I'm teaching him in hand), but he has no hesitation in picking it up, even picking it up and turning toward me before he drops it. Excellent.

And then, in the middle of the session, Ron started doing something in the kitchen and BoBo thought about the lesson and then went to stand at the door and whine.

OK. Know what? Syn hasn't had a training session in a month. I let him into the kitchen while calling Syn through into the parlour. That gave him pause, but... oh well, I'm in the kitchen!!

Until he heard the first click. THAT did not go over well. He could hear the clicks, hear the cues, and hear her crunching. He whined. He paced. He called out in agony.

Eventually I went and let him in too, but I put him on a leash and made him lie down on the couch. And stay lying down on the couch. And made him lie down on the couch.

Then I did a dozen in-hand holds with Syn, liberally rewarding each one and obviously having both of us hold it together. And made him lie down on the couch.

And then I through the dumbbell across the room a dozen times with Syn retrieving, putting it in my hand, and holding it with me each time. Then another half dozen in-hand holding, and I put her up on a chair and brought Spy back out.

I just about fell off my chair.

I held my hand out, he put his chin in it, I handed him the dumbbell, and he held it. Without moving. Making eye contact, chin in my hand, he sat there holding the dumbbell. I really don't like jackpots but I was so excited I opened my hand and dropped the whole handful of kibble on his feet.

And then he did it again.

And then I threw the dumbbell five feet away and he went over, picked it up, brought it back, and gave it to me.

The next time, of course, he picked it up, dropped it, and came back wanting a treat. The time after that he kicked it around the room a bit and came back wanting a treat. So I did a bit more with Syn and stopped.

Fabulous session. Not only made huge progress on the retrieve (no, I don't think he's got it because he did it once), but did a successful watch-the-other-dog learning session AND got to show him what happens when he wanders off to do something else in the middle of a session. Excellent.

Halter, dammit

Took him for a training session outside Lowe's this afternoon. He was fabulous. He kept the leash loose. I tried to trick him into going the wrong way around posts and he avoided every trap. Looked at people who walked by and made good decisions to come cheerfully back for a treat - what I wanted him to know, see a person, stay with me, get a treat.

Aaaand then somebody wanted to pet him. Dang. I was ready but he couldn't keep his feet on the ground. I can't hold him with one hand and I can't have him pulling on my bad shoulder while I'm backing up. NOT working.

We hung around for another half hour, walking away whenever anybody looked really interested, and again he was perfect.

So we have one tiny little problem. Went to the pet shop and bought him a halter. Yep, that's going to work. Again he was excellent walking around the store but the addition of the halter meant that he could lean happily on people's legs and kiss their hands without trying to break their noses. I feel good about this, and I don't expect he'll have to wear it long.


Bad week for me pain-wise so Binkie's been basically warehoused, which at our house means he sleeps in his crate at night, plays in and out of the house with Syn, torments Stitch as much as I let him, sleeps on the couch, and spreads his toys all over everything. He still has to sit and give eye contact before having access to his meals.

He's been much better about jumping up since I made it clear he was to keep four on the floor - BUT yesterday we had the electrician in the front hall, he said hello to the dogs over the Dutch door, and then he and I were talking... and Spider came OVER the Dutch door to talk to him. Twice. I'd say he jumped, but it wasn't that clean, he jumped and then climbed, teetering on the brink as he scratched the door. Have to get back to work!

PS the guy has Boxers so wasn't too dismayed to find a tongue down his throat, thank goodness, but This Too Must Stop.

Good day

Great morning. Ron had let the dogs out when he got up, and when I got up to let them out of the dog room and into the house, he only put his paws up, and that gently, once on the Dutch door, then he got down and stayed standing while I talked to him and then let them in.

I thought I had a drawer full of dumbbells, but when I went to it the other day it was empty (a Chuck-It and an little dog dish), so I bought one at the fun match the other night.

Today we started working on it. Excellent session. We don't have more than 1 second of duration on the hold yet, but he certainly knows his face has to wrapped around the dumbbell.

We worked on that. First in hand - holding it with me. I discovered that his mouth is quieter if I hold it up above him and he has to reach for it and pull it down to level. Got some nice work there.

Then I put it on the floor and did a little shaping to get him to approach it, put his mouth over it, and finally lift it. Looking good.

Next we worked on where to hold it in his mouth. I let him throw it back onto his molars without paying for it, and he seemed to have figured out that only on premolars was going to get paid (at least for today).

Put it on the floor again and let him experiment with picking it up by the ends and chewing on them. In a few minutes he was giving very consistent pickups on the bar only. I can't reach for it yet without him dropping it, but that'll come. This was a very productive session.

No French Kissing Zone!

KA-ZAP!! In a flash of insight
I figured out the reason Spider is still jumping on people after 4 months of people turning their backs on him when I've taught insanely joyful shelter dogs to keep their feet on the floor in like 3 repetitions.

He takes rejection too well. He launches, people turn away, he doesn't hang around to figure out how to talk to them, he just shrugs and goes off to do something else instead. A real gentleman: "Wanna go back to my place and get it on?" No, get lost. "OK, have a nice day!"

So this morning he launched at my neighbour, I gave him a 1.6-second NO and finger-tip fwapping all over his body and walked away. I called him back, he looked over at me and said "Are you stupid? You were finger-fwapping me! I'll go find a toy!" I called him again (cheerfully) and he came and we had a nice (calm) little cuddle. He's still here an hour later, walking around the house doing stuff, and he's taking a nap.

SO glad I figured this out! First because nobody likes a 65-pound puppy flossing their teeth, and second because I don't have my new shoulder yet and I can't afford to keep holding him down. Now to show him that people DO want to talk to him and tell him how cute he is as long as he stays glued to the ground.


Since our dear vet/physio did such an amazing job for old Stitch, I decided to give her a shot at Spider, too, just to see how he's coming along and if there's anything we should be doing.

Nice loose leash into the clinic, then he went semi-berserk over "all" (three) the people there were that he might get to French kiss (he didn't), but we had several minutes to ourselves in the examining room before the doc came in. He was semi-good on the table, a trifle over-joyous, but once I put him in his Chill position he was grand. Found some tightening in one shoulder that Debbie Torraca also mentioned, and I was assigned some exercises and massages.

This afternoon we had our standard Friday training day with Barbara and Dory. Did a fair amount of work on jumping up on people (I'm reaching the end of my rope. I'm thrilled he loves everybody but I'm ready for four on the floor.)

Got through Level 2 Crate and half of L2 Go To Mat with no problems, and then we had a great dumbbell session. Got some good double hits, then some threefers, and some semi-decent actual holds. Then I put it on the floor and shaped him to it and he started picking it up. Feeling accomplished about the session. And a nice no-thought loose leash back out to the car in spite of people coming out of the weed store next door.

Back home for a quick leg-bath and scissor, and then it was on to his first conformation fun match. Best In Match! Thank you, thank you, I'd like to thank all the little people who made this possible... say what? There were only 5 dogs entered? Well, yeah. What does that have to do with anything?

I learned two things. a) I absolutely cannot show him myself. My leg was cramping up before I got finished with the initial go-around. And b) I really am sick of him not being able to keep his feet on the floor. I think he'll spend a bit of time in a halter while we have a little discussion about this over the next few days. Or weeks.

And I figured out why his skull looks so huge. Dory and Syn have been biting the hair under his eyes so his head is hour-glass-shaped. Ick.