Class Graduation

I wanted a Giant! Doesn't EVERYBODY want a Giant?
Actually it's sort of astonishing how little damage he's done with his mouth, especially when you see how swollen his gums are and how big his new teeth are. And how easily he can crack cattle femurs.

Little Man's first class finished tonight. He managed to jump on a kid and scare her, and then he stomped on a little dog so he didn't get to play with her any more. Manners are an ongoing discussion. He's not a bully, he's a bull and the world is his china shop. Here are two of the behaviours he learned in class, and in moments of waiting we started working on Pocket Hand. He has a surprisingly mobile back end considering how large it is.

Also he may not have wanted to play with me last night because he has a rather large wound on the end of his tail from wagging it against the ground. That'll be tougher to bandage than his ears!


We tried out the requirements for the IDPA parkour Training Level at the park today. Lots of fun. Wasps were TERRIBLE. He ate a few. They seem to have been dead before they went down...

I'm not sure if these videos are good enough, we'll await word from someone who knows:

4 feet on -
Apparently I have no idea of how long 5 seconds is.

Paws up -

Under -

Through/Between -

In -

Balance -

Creativity -

And - nope, little things that need to be different. We'll try again. It would be fun to have a title before 6 months, even if it's a "training" title.

Then we went to a new class in a new place. He was excited to be there, but didn't really have any difficulty paying attention. A bit more trouble when the other dogs were moving, but that's to be expected. We had an opportunity to play in class and he was happy to chase a ball but acted as though I was embarrassing him slightly when I tried to play with a toy with him. We'll work on that.

Park again

We had a wonderful morning. I took new drugs and we went to the park. We actually went for a walk by the lake. Spider is no longer pulling toward goose poop, but we will have to discuss eating cigarette butts. There were dogs (large and small, ignoring him and pulling toward him), geese (honking and landing and having small fights), kids (calm ones and yelling ones and running ones), the ubiquitous Japanese tourists as well as Sikhs and Muslims and women in saris, bicycles and skateboards. Spike was interested in some of them, but was happy to look and then look back to me without pulling on the leash. Clever puppy.

We did some work on sit stays. Didn't work very well on the ground but on walls and pedestals he was grand - even started offering a very dedicated eye contact. A good time was had by all.

Level 1 Graduation!

Started the day with a few minutes of stacking and stretching on the TotoPawds. It's amazing how much muscle this simple exercise uses and how quickly he gets tired!

That's a pretty good looking pup!

Had a good time in our training time with Barb and her pup. Last week was his first introduction to Training Levels Come. Step 1 was good, he loved running back and forth between us, but unlike Dori, his training partner of the same age, he didn't figure out the next step - that after SHE paid, *I* paid, and then SHE paid again. Today he got it immediately. Barb and I both used come cues, we got up to 20' apart, and he was spinning and running to us. Nice. So that cracked off Step 2, 3, and 4, and since I successfully called him off the feral cat the other day and several other enticing prospects, I'm calling Step 5 done as well.

We finished Level 1 Zen as well when he stayed off a dog dish in my hand and on the floor even though there were several kinds of treats in it.

Sit's done. Had a little trouble with Target last week when we worked it AFTER Zen, so this week we did it first and got it finished up.

And down. Level 1 Graduation Party! Clever boy!

A lot of Level 2 is about duration and distance, so we started working on Level 2 Sit - in Step 1 I walk 5' away and return. We got up to 3 feet. After that he wanted to follow me, so we'll be working on that. Once we have the distance, I don't think duration will be TOO much of a problem, but we've been working a lot on down lately and for Giants, down is an inborn default, so we'll be forgetting about down for a while and working on sit.

We work on giving to collar pressure almost every time we're sitting for a moment doing nothing. That's a default I sincerely want to hold on to as he gets bigger. Then for certain situations, like conformation and drafting, I'll teach him to pull into leash.

We've done a lot of work on settling (which worked brilliantly the other day when we went to get the truck fixed), but today we tried getting him excited and then asking for the settle - no problem. His temperament is unbelievable.

Backing up and moving out of my personal space, even to the left - brilliant.

Zen at the front door is going well.

Zen paying off!

Funny little puppy! For lunch we had three - no, five - training sessions.

First, some work at the front door. Two phases, an automatic wait in the hall when the door is opened (works very nicely up to 5 seconds as long as nobody breathes); and when he goes out the door, he has to turn to face back into the house (that is, me, since I haven't gone out yet) and sit. He loves that part, in fact I think the only reason he wants to go out is so he can turn and sit.

Second, pee on cue, which is kind of a no-brainer since I ask him to pee every single time we go out the front door AND he's a male AND he has a thimble-sized holding tank. Anyway, I'm checking off Level 4 Handling Step 1 (eliminates on lead), Step 3 (eliminates on lead within 30 seconds of hearing the cue), as well as Step 2 (eliminates on lead away from home), and Step 4 (eliminates on lead away from home within 30 seconds of hearing the cue) due to the "testing" we've done at his puppy class. I won't check off Step 5 (eliminates on lead on a new surface within 30 seconds) until he's actually got the behaviour on cue and shows me that he knows what I'm talking about even if his thimble isn't quite full yet. Still, I really get a boost from check off some Level 4 behaviours!

Third, we're checking off Level 3 Come, Step 1 (dog comes 5 feet with distractions), though that wasn't a planned test. As we were heading back in the house after peeing, he took off after one of the feral cats in the yard. I called immediately, and it took him about 15' for his brain to engage and put on the brakes, but he did - skidded to a stop, turned around and came back. GOOD PUPPY! Handful of treats for that one!

Fourth, we did a shaping session. I wanted him to close a drawer with his nose. It took him a few minutes to figure out I was aiming him at the drawer. Apparently all the shaping I've done with him so far has him turning his head to his right, so there was a lot of right-turning before he slipped in a left head-swing. Then he was proud of himself for figuring that out and he did a lot of that before he realized that he had to move closer to drawer while he was at it. Then he remembered the last shaping session we did, which was down on the mat in puppy class, so he tried lying down. Giant Schnauzers are VERY VERY GOOD at lying down. Tossing a treat away from the drawer got him up again. Then he thought maybe I wanted him to grab the drawer pull - and since he was moving the drawer slightly with the pull in his mouth, I clicked that, which made him sidle up sideways to the drawer, and finally he shut it with his shoulder. OK! I'll go with that! We got five more shoulder-slams of the drawer and moved on. Typical Schnauzer. Why use finesse when you can just body slam the sucker?

Finally I asked him up on the coffee table to do some more show stacking on Debbie Torraca's wonderful TotoPawds. They're available at Today for the first time Spider tried to put his own front paws on. He hit both front Pawds, though I did have to help him get his paws square. Today for the first time also he understood that he didn't have to get OFF the Pawds just because I was reloading my treat hand, or if I was replacing one of his hind feet. That's big. Amazing shoulders the little man has! I like the Pawds especially because they don't slip, even on the slippery coffee table. Wherever I put them they stay.

Heavy overcast today, we'll get a saunter in before supper.

Well, today's the day. He finally tipped the recliner over backwards. Now he's standing on it as it lies dead on the floor, barking at it for bucking him off.

On the saunter he found half an old deer pelvis. Carried it proudly. Fell for the old "Look, you could have a piece of my wiener!" trick. Sucker. He'll be kicking himself tomorrow for trading in a deer pelvis for an inch of hot dog.

Long day

I had to get some fixing done on the truck and then we had a vet appointment to get his rabies vaccine, and then insufficient time to get home before puppy class, so it was a long day - noon until 7.

We started in the truck-fixing waiting room. It took Spider about 5 minutes to examine everything, think about eating a plant, and run out of things to put his mouth on. After that he lay down, ate a few treats, chewed on my shoe a bit, wagged his tail at the guys behind the counter, and went to sleep, We were there for two hours. Clever boy.

From there we went to the vet. He loved her up and didn't stop wagging even while she was giving him the shot. What a lovely temperament!

Another hour of silence in the car crate, and then to puppy class. We worked on Loose Leash Walking. He's interested in the other puppies (lots of puppies, smallish area), but tried hard to pay attention. He has a really good handle on the idea that when the leash gets tight he should look for me.

We did some platform work. He's never done this before, so I shaped him to put his feet an the stool, then I started asking him to circle his butt around in both directions. Not bad!

Go around a pylon - again, I shaped him. He got a little stuck on targeting the pylon, but he figured it out and went cheerfully back and forth around it.

Go To Mat - got some nice work here. Shaped him again. He got it right away, even though we haven't worked it since class last week. I got the mat up to 5' away from me, and got him reliably lying down on it. That worked up into a sweet response to the down cue at that distance, and up to 5 seconds of a down stay. Why am I surprised? It feels like we're starting to communicate.

Finally, we let the horde play and one by one we called them, rewarded, and let them go back to playing. I had to go right up to him the first time, but after that he came every time I called.

A very satisfying day with a lovely puppy.

Nothing much

Didn't do much today except work on stacking on the TotoPawds. I put them on the coffee table so he'd be at a better height for me to help get his feet on. He has zero compunction about being on tables. Must be part Portuguese Water Dog, or they're rubbing off on him.

Hmmm. Conformation class

We went to a conformation dropin this morning. Don't think we'll go again. Kudos to the person "judging" for being there, and I had plenty of time to reward Spike for standing up, but we don't need that much going around in circles and I'm still happy that he's happy to see people. I want to work on getting him to offer focus rather than holding him down for somebody to examine. He did fine, for a pup that really didn't know what was happening, but we'll work on those behaviours at home - and play along with my FDSA Conformation class that starts in 3 weeks. Unless I can talk friend Karen into teaching an in-person conformation class...

The guys finished harvesting the lentils while I was gone, which opened up a new path in the field for us to travel through.
Acting class: FEEL the bunny! BE the bunny!

Portrait of a Puppy on a Cloudy Afternoon

Home again

I had to go to Saskatoon for a few days. Ron is being such a sweetheart about managing the dogs while I'm gone. I know he likes them best when they're old and ready to lie quietly beside him (though I did catch him watching a football game with Spider).

It seems to me that Spider has grown two inches in the 3 days I was gone. It's ridiculous. And his ears are flat on his skull again.

Friend Barbara and I met for the first Training Levels session for our puppies. We're planning on this being a weekly event to keep us on track with the foundation behaviours competition dogs so badly need. These aren't the "glitzy" behaviours and it's easy to skip them but it's plain to see what's missing in other friends' dogs when they haven't done the work on the basics.

Both puppies are pretty well behaved with a good start on recalls, crates, doors, positions, etc., but Barb and I both found plenty to work on in Level 1. We worked a couple of Level 2 behaviours to keep ourselves interested, but otherwise stayed with the program.

Spike has a full set of new incisors - thank goodness, now he can start figuring out where they are so he doesn't have to spend the rest of his life swallowing my hand in pursuit of treats.

He's learning to catch treats - partly because it's cool, and partly because sometimes I just don't feel like thrusting my innocent hand into the gaping maw of hell.
What I actually mean by "learning to catch" is that if I make a certain motion with my hand, his mouth opens automatically, and if my aim is good, I can hit his tonsils. It looks pretty good, though.

Osmosis learning

Things he's learning by being taught during life rather than during training sessions, and random observations:

- when he goes out the front door, he turns back to face me and sits.
- when he lies down in the kitchen someone's going to trip over him. Bad idea. Get out of the way.
- when he lies down anywhere else, people will walk over him. Do Not Move.
- pee when I say Go Outside. Or, y'know, go outside and THEN pee.
- he doesn't have to trot right beside the Gator on our saunters. He's welcome to go exploring.
- I'm fascinated by his teeth. I have to look at them about 80 times a day. One lower canine is growing straight up into the roof of his mouth, but it'll change direction when the base comes in and swing out wide. I already had this panic with my second litter and almost started cutting off canines. Fortunately on my way to the vet's, I looked at them again and discovered they had all changed direction.
- he lies down on the floor of the Gator to watch Syn during her wind sprints. That's good for watching, but bad for driving, since he's so big that he learns against the gear shift and keeps pushing it from drive to neutral, which makes climbing hills in the Gator a little difficult.
- the idea of not biting Stitch's tail appears to be growing in his brain. He has another large scab, this one in the middle of his eyebrow. He's been rather calm around her the last few days.
- this morning he played Schnauzer Aerobics with Syn. This is where he grips a soft toy and collapses on his side on the floor and lets Syn pull him all over the house by the toy. Schnauzers do this. When you have two of them playing at once, they can stay in place, both of them gripping a toy that's tight between them, and neither moving, sometimes for up to an hour. Once in a while, if one is feeling particularly feisty, she'll twitch every 10 minutes or so.

Two saunters today, and lunch working on show stacking and stretching forward. Why isn't there ever a conformation match when we need one?

He's got 2 puppy classes per week, and a work session with another puppy.


I'm having dreams about that topline and tailset.

Ron's camera class

Ron's taking a camera class, so we have Spider's official 4-month-old portraits.
In case anybody was wondering if he actually resembles a spider in any way - yes, yes he does!

His teeth are getting serious. This is a scrap of ear foam he found to chew on this morning.

And his ears are looking great - as long as he's only been out of the posts for half an hour and he's not actually looking at anything...


We had an excellent session at the park this afternoon (we always seem to have an excellent session when we go to the park). We started with some decent Loose Leash. He's got up to almost a minute if there's nothing fascinating to look at. His response to the leash is wonderful. When he tightens it, he releases it immediately and comes looking for a treat - well, 90% of the time.

We worked Sit and Down. Sit's not great first thing, but after a couple of minutes he's OK. He was reliably doing Down on a hand gesture and without treats.

He's not going to let the Giant team down - I've never had a Giant that didn't land on the judge's table at least once, and he'll be no exception. Every bench, every concrete stair rail, every anything raised he's going to be walking on. They had a floating dock left out for rowing races this morning. It took him a moment to decide to step down onto it. He did the classic How Do I Get Down There Without Getting Down From Here? manoeuvre. Once he touched down once, he was fine and we went for a wobbly walk the length of the dock.

We did some hand stacking, some give-to-collar-pressure, and a LOT of take-the-dumbbell. No duration yet, but lots of eager takes.

I needed another video for class this morning, so Spider volunteered again. Teaching him to love fast and accurate retrieving. No, not the finished product, but a great beginning. What a fun puppy!

For lunch we worked on going in a crate. Yes, he does this every night, and yes he's good in it, but we still need to be sure we have a sound behaviour. Syn can't stay in a soft crate - she doesn't hate crates, she just doesn't see any reason why she should stay in one she knows she can get out of with very little effort. That's because I took it for granted. I want a "horse" that can be "ground-tied". I want Spider to KNOW what a crate means!

I shaped him into the crate - the crate he came in. The crate that was ridiculously large because of the stupid airline rule that he had to be able to stand up in it without his head touching the roof. Well, he has to crouch to get in the door, and it's not easy for him to turn around in it now.

Anyway, shaped him into the crate. When he was going in regularly I started telling him that's called Hit The Rack. After a bit I started working on duration in the crate. I don't think he realized what was going on, but I got him up to 8 seconds before he came wandering out looking for a treat. Once he pushed the door shut, which frustrated him so he whacked it with his paw, bounced it open, and walked in. Good session.


I got a bunch of grooming done today. Shaved and did toenails on everybody, and Stitch got a bath. Spider mostly had his butt done - his inner thigh muscles, balls, and I finally get to see the cute little "stud" muscle between his testicles and his anus. OK, not something any normal person thinks is cute, but I do.

No, they're still too small to show up. That's the muscle!

Oh, and while I was grooming I noticed that Syn's tail flag was pretty much destroyed. Wretched little crocodile! So I took the remnants off to give it a chance to grow back.
This is pathetic. A Portie without a flag is like a king without a crown. Embarrassing.