Today we went to the skateboard park. It was a good day for it - there were several boarders but only one at a time. The park is fairly large, so a full circuit takes several minutes. That means the pup can relax between flybys. Spider stood up the first time a board went by. The second and third time he watched from a down. By the fourth time he was mostly interested in being sure that I remembered to pay him for seeing skateboarders. No big deal. Even when one of them did something fancy and his board made a big slamming-to-the-concrete noise when it landed. No big deal.

We worked on Level 2 Communication Step 4 - dog untangles a leash from around a pole and from around the handler. That went well. He didn't have much trouble figuring out what to do when the leash got tight as he tried to go the wrong way around a tree. It took longer than I expected for him to realize that the point wasn't only that he learn how to fix the resulting problem when he went the wrong way around a tree but not to get into that situation in the first place. He did get it eventually (10 reps?) and after that he only made the mistake once or twice more.

Then we worked on getting him to understand that crossing my path without an invitation also results in problems. We left off with him being fairly easily able to fix the tangle problem but not yet understanding that crossing from left to right was what caused it in the first place. Good start.

We moved on to L2 Come Step 1 and 2 - dog comes 10' and dog comes 10' to get the leash put on. We've done so much work off leash on the farm - indeed, about the only time he gets the leash on is in the last part of a run when he's done his share and it's time for Syn to get her wind sprint in. I invite him into the Gator, put the leash on, and give him a treat. Then he lies on the floor watching with a snug leash while Syn runs. That means getting the leash snapped on only means time to rest and time for a treat - nothing bad.

Finally, we watched an old Mini Schnauzer get scared senseless and bowled over by a large black dog on a long line. The guy saw I had a Schnauzer too (we're like the motorcycle clan, never miss an opportunity to talk Schnaut!) so came over. I held Spider on a snug leash and he was polite and friendly. The Mini enjoyed the opportunity to sniff and the guy said he was generally afraid of big dogs so he was happy too. I don't think the guy saw The Paw come up but I did and I knocked Spider a little off balance with the leash before he could whap the little dog.

Spy did find something a little bit scary - finally. It was a Kleenex blowing around in a nook in the park. He didn't avoid it, he went right up to it, but he dropped down a couple of inches into the "creeping up on scary things" stance. Once the wind wiggled a but of it and Spider flinched but kept right on approaching it. When he finally got to it and realized he'd been stalking a Kleenex, he stood up, tasted it, and moved on to more interesting things. Maybe a bit of a fear period to go with his newfound idea of the difference between Us and Them?

He did a little attention bark at some people walking by the park, but he redirected to me immediately as I thanked him for warning me of the "danger" and gave him a treat. It really was a nice little "look, people!" burf rather than the "ohmyGodohmyGodyoubetterstayaway!!" bark he tried out last week. This is perfect. I don't want him unaware of what's going on around him, but I want him to trust me enough to take my word for what's really dangerous and what isn't. Another perfect session.

Pet supply shop visit

I was going to go into town and do some work on the Training Levels in public, but I had to stop it the supply store to drop some stuff off so I decided we'd go in and wander around. What a great puppy! He was very excited to go in, but managed to (mostly) hold on to his leash work. He bumped the end of it a lot, but came readily back almost always when he felt the collar. Talked to four people and managed not to jump on any of them. Had a wonderful time walking up and down the aisles sniffing dog food bags and bags of treats. It takes a day like this to remind me that he has a FABULOUS Zen cue (No) which he can respond to even while he's got his face hovering over an entire box of rawhides. He examined lots of toys and tasted a few. Politely ignored other dogs in the store. We wandered around for over half an hour - three wieners' worth - and I bought him a new femur for the crate in the truck. Excellent outing.

Meet the llamas

We had a meet and greet with the llamas this morning on our run. Spider wanted to go see them and ducked through the fence but came back cheerfully when I called him - three times. At that point the llamas had decided they wanted a closer look and were coming over so I put him on leash. I held him in one spot with his body on my side of the wire and his head and neck stuck through on their side. Code, Tweed, Whisper, Fanny, and Twister all came right up to the fence while Darkwing Duck hung back behind the rest muttering old-man threats like "stomp him into the ground" and "dogs don't deserve...", though he wasn't going to come over and stomp him right in front of me. Nobody was inclined to spit or threaten him. Code especially was interested and came right up to sniff noses with him. Spider watched, sniffed, wagged - and finally he let out one mighty FRIENDS! bark, upon which all the llamas sneered "Fine, be that way" and wandered off.

That was a comforting meeting for me. As he's gathering his ideas that feral cats, grasshoppers, killdeer, and quail are prey (he'll never catch birds or cats, and he can eat all the grasshoppers he wants), the introduction was a good beginning in both directions for the idea that dogs and llamas are co-habitors on this patch of dust and lentils.

Need to play!

I need to get "serious" about playing with him. I said that last week and haven't done anything about it yet.

Had a good puppy class. While everybody else was leading their puppies back around into heel position we had a lot of opportunity to work on pocket hand. He does a great job with it (especially since we only did a minute of it in class last week) and really started to think that maybe heel position was an alternative to sitting in front of me. He can't do that sidestepping for too long, though. He got tired and then he started to get frustrated so we stopped.

Sit and down both went well. While he was practising down durations he remembered that I'd rewarded him for putting his head down in a some previous session. Clever boy.

Got some duration and distance on the sit which we didn't have before, as well as getting out to his side and I got to go around him a few times holding him in place with a wiener. Couldn't do that before.

Played the Name Game - toss a treat, as soon as he's eaten that one, say his name and toss another one. That's what we needed for the natural tendency to think about going out the dog door if he thinks I might be about to work on his ears.

There was a guy walking around outside the training building in white pyjamas and a navy blue dressing gown. Strange how a 4-month-old puppy can make me think "Yeah, mind your business, son - I've got a Giant Schnauzer!"

Then we came home, he climbed in my lap, and we watched tv for an hour. Or Ron and I watched tv. Spider snored.

More children

Today the neighbour (same yard, different house) had two women and their (7?) year olds in the yard when Syn, Stitch, Spider, and I came out our front door to go on our daily run. The people were hidden by several trucks and cars and I didn't know they were there until after we'd done a wonderful exit - sits in the front hall, stays while the door opened, dogs moved from the hall to the front step on invitation by name and then all three sat again facing the house. So far so good.

After that it could have gone All Wrong. As soon as I stepped onto the front walk, Syn and Spider went spinning off around the trucks and I heard squealing and yelling, and then a large man-Schnauzery yelp. Coming around the corner I see two moms, each with a kid in arms with their legs wrapped around their moms' waists. Syn is looking a little bewildered and Spider is hiding behind one of the moms. One of the feral cats is stalking grandly away from the scene.

Turns out that Spider and Syn were both very happy to see the people - apparently being in the yard is OK when being in the house wasn't. Spider went barrelling up to the kids, who jumped up to safety. Thwarted in his desire to tell everybody how much he loved them, Spider accidentally ran over the cat, who let him know the correct protocol (resulting in the manly yelp) for talking to wild cats.

So no one was hurt (except maybe a stripe of Spider's nose). Lucky. My fault completely. It is NEVER OK to let a 46 pound dog, whether cheerful or not, land on unsuspecting people and I'll be much more careful in future.

After I got the dogs out of the yard, I remembered what I wrote a couple of days ago - Spider doesn't eat random stuff! I KNEW I shouldn't have said anything. Now he eats EVERYTHING. Sticks. Pinecones. The TV remote. A fence post. Remember that deer pelvis he was ignoring last week? Today he found the other femur and he was smarter this time. I had to give Syn and Stitch each three treats before Spider decided to join us for his share. So we went on our way and... cattail stalks. Tree branches. Innocent little tree sprouts. He went over half a kilometre with a dirt clod in his mouth. Sigh.


On the run this morning, we went by about 20 feet from the llamas in the pasture. He was going to ignore them, but they drifted closer and he drifted through the fence and started for them. There was no barking this time - his barking seems to be mostly a response to surprise so far - and he came right away when I called him. I also noticed that Darkwing Duck, who has a lot of experience guarding sheep from marauding dogs, didn't bother standing between "his" herd and the fence today, so while Spider's getting used to llamas, Duck is getting used to Spider. This is good news on both fronts - an adult Giant Schnauzer could kill a llama without a great deal of difficulty, and I know a teenage llama who killed an adult Great Pyrenees. Life will be better if they're friends, especially since I plan on having Code pulling me in a sulky while Spider pulls my grandsons in another one.

One of Ron's colleagues came by this afternoon for a chat, and brought his wife and two kids to meet llamas and dogs (this happens quite a lot, but it was Spider's first meeting of strangers in his parlour).

The kids - 5 and (9?) - were very well-behaved. I brought Syn in first to do her tricks, then put her out and brought in Spider to be petted and admired. And they wanted to meet the "baby". So I put Stitch back out and brought in Monstero. Looking back, I should have left Stitch in the room to let Spider know everything was proceeding normally.

He was Not Impressed with people in his house. At least his front end wasn't. His back end stayed thrilled. Not scary at all - a 45-pound large black dog leaping at you for hugs and kisses with his back end while his front end uses the Man Voice to tell you to get the heck out of his house. Of course *I* could see his tail, but they couldn't, and I'm not about to let any puppy no matter how small leap on people, let alone children, so I dragged him over to a chair, sat down and shoved a bit of wiener in his mouth in between barks. That caused some consternation as he tried to decide between wiener! people! wiener! people! After a few seconds he was able to sit and calm down to a burf between wieners. Another few seconds and his inner Giant Schnauzer gave up and sat making eye contact with me and ignoring the people. After that he did some nice downs and I finally took him out of the room.

Not a bad session altogether, but I can do better. Next time I'll let him watch the people come in, feeding him for looking at them so he doesn't have the surprise to goose his bark into operation. I'll have to set this up with a known adult so they can say hello and give him some treats before I ask him to settle down on the floor at my feet.

New park

Today we spent several hours in a new park. We meant to be alone, but there was an entire classroom of motherly-abled kids there, having lunch and playing on the equipment.

Spider really wanted to talk to the kids but I didn't feel like wrestling with him and trying to control the kids at the same time so I explained that he liked kids so much that he wanted to jump on them, knock them down, and kiss them all over their faces. Kids were VERY respectful and didn't try to approach, which gave us lots of opportunity to wander around near the group. Spider got a pretty good body-wave going (it's not enough to wag his tail when there are kids around) but did an excellent job of maintaining his loose leash. He's got a good handle on the idea that when he feels the leash start to tighten, he should turn back to me to get a treat. I need to teach him other things about those situations, but if that's all he ever knew about them, that would be GREAT. Most of the time he's not HITTING the end of the leash, he's just being drawn inexorably away from me until he feels it.

There was one kid in a wheelchair who let out a scream every minute or two. The screaming and the wheelchair not only didn't bother Spider, they didn't even register as unusual. Kids running toward him (not close) and then running away was unusual, but looked fun, not scary.

One of things I want him to know is that he can look at interesting things and still keep the leash loose, so I started clicking and rewarding him when he was looking at the kids.

Since he's doing so well with the leash, I did some work on not shoving a treat in his face every time he looked at me. That was a little annoying and he barked at me a couple of times, but he soon realized that he could wander around sniffing things, eating twigs and fallen leaves, and searching for remnants of kid lunches.

We explored the playground equipment. It's an interesting park with spinny things and swingy things and balance things - perfect for parkour. We'll be back with our new iPad tripod! In the meantime, he walked or jumped or climbed on or under each piece of equipment. Nothing bothers this puppy. He's brave and interested and sensible.

Finally we were trained out so Barb and I sat down to chat. An owl flew over about 6' over our heads. Spider watched it, and then watched a plane go over. I've never had a Portie watch planes, but most of my Giants did.

And finally something "bothered" him. While we were sitting there doing nothing, several groups of runners went by, including an entire high school class. He watched the class with interest, but when a guy on a skateboard came up over a hill, he stood up and started working on his big-boy voice. He wasn't scared, he was just telling the guy that we had assumed ownership of that section of the park and he should keep that in mind. Pup was SO funny! In mid-macho, I stuck a wiener in his face and he almost got whiplash spinning around to face me, sit, and make eye contact. Apparently machoness disappears in the face of a wiener!

And now we're home and I have to post his blasted ears back up. Thank goodness Ron got us staples to make the post so I don't have to sew them together any more!

He CAME when I called!

Wonderful run this morning - the weather is crisp and the dogs are feeling good. Spider was ranging out a bit farther from the Gator than usual and found where I had thrown the deer pelvis he found a week or so ago, and I SAID NO AND HE CAME AWAY FROM IT!! I didn't even yell, I just said NO! Gave him a bit of wiener when he came back to me, what a good puppy! And then as we were going along on the outside of the pasture fence, the llamas came over to see what was going on. He ducked through the fence into the pasture heading straight for them. I called him back and HE CAME! OK, I had to call him twice, but still. GOOD PUPPY!

We finished up a relaxed day with some dumbbell work and then stacking and stretching on the TotoPawds.

Oh - and then I finally admitted that I'm not going to be able to keep up his stripping until I get my new shoulder in March, so I shaved him. I'm hoping I can card his coat as it's growing in and end up with him in a nice hard show coat by the time his front legs and ears pull themselves together. My, big fella, what great thighs you have!

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.