Saturday, April 25, 2009

Travis the lab day four

Saturday with my new foster dog, Travis

Started off the morning with taking Travis for some jogging along the road from the side of my golf cart. Stopped here and there to do a little work on "HEEL" and "SIT". Started lessons on "DOWN". Travis doesn't like down and got mouthy -- lightly biting my hands and arms. I would tell him NO and keep working on getting him to lay down. This mouthiness tells me that he is not respecting me as his pack leader and is testing me to see if he can just do what he wants to do, which is not to lay down.

From Travis the Lab

I had also noticed some mouthiness from him when I first tried to put him in the dog yard. He needs to learn that this will not stop me and doesn't do a bit of good.

Brushing out the dead hair

At lunch time I took Travis out on a four foot leash and did some heeling lessons. When he see of sniffs something he want to explore surges ahead and pulls. I started walking a circle with him to the inside. This way if he walked to far ahead he ran into my legs or knee. His nose hit my knee hard a few time before he started to keep his place. He will need a lot more work on HEELing and keeping his attention to where I am while walking.

From Travis the Lab

After about 5--10 minutes of HEELing I slipped the end of Travis' leash over a fence post and started to brush out some of his dead winter fur. I don't think he has been brushed much if ever before. He became very mouthy and didn't want me to brush him. I was not hurting him so I just continued and whenever he put his mouth over my arm I said NO and removing it. Even he would stand still I would click and treat him. He has to learn that I will not stop just because he wants me to. A lot of dead hair came out.

Evening outing - almost a dog fight

In the evening I let out Travis and Howie the hound from their dog yards. Howie gets along well with other dogs and so I hoped that he and Travis would met well and maybe play a little. Travis was very excited and I keep him on a leash for this meeting. He jumped right into playing too rough with Howie and after a minute I could see Howie was not liking this rough play. I would pull Travis away from Howie then let him return but he would just go to bit at the back of Howie's neck. Travis was not growling -- just being too excited and dominant with his meeting and play.

After another bite on the neck Howie growled and snapped at Travis. Instead of backing down Travis growled back. I gave Travis a large jerk and then demanded a down from him. He didn't stay in the down long and I put him in a down again. Then walked him in a circle to calm down and put him in his crate so I could take my dogs for their walk.

Travis will have to learn to meet dogs in a nicer, calmer manner, and play gentler too or he will get into himself dog fights. This also shows that he does not respect me as he leader because if he did he would be more respectful of my disapproval of his actions. I will need to work harder to gain Travis' respect with more work on "DOWN" and "HEEL".

When I returned from walking my dogs I worked Travis a little on the road with the cart and did more work on "DOWN" and started on "DOWN-STAY. When he is tried and there are no distractions I can get him to down and stay, but this is just the beginning and he will need a lot more challenging work with more and more distractions added.

From Travis the Lab

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fostering Travis Day Three

Friday is now my third day with Travis

Morning fun with Travis - playing fetch in my yard. Travis is great at fetching the ball and can find it if it lands in the tall grass or underbrush. He uses his nose and sniffs the ball out when it out of sight. Playing ball does get he very excited and he will not always give a fast sit on returning to me. If I hid the ball behind my back he will run around the yard sniffing and looking for the ball and will not pay attention to my calling his name. He does finally return to me when he cannot find it on the ground.

Meeting my dog Gigit

Once I put up the ball Travis tried to play with my thirty pound dog, Gigit. BUT Travis' high nervous and pounce-in-your-face style is not what works to win this girl's heart and Gigit growled and snapped at him. Gigit likes to play but she wants new dogs to flirt politely with her first.

Pond Fetching

At about two pm I take Travis for a walk through the woods to the larger pond. He is still pulling too much so I started to work on recalls (COME) on the trail. My son, Felix comes with us to video tape Travis fetching the ball from the pond. Typical lab - Travis LOVES to play fetch in water. He didn't shake off for each retrieve, but I still got wet, as he does like to shake once he gets near me.

He did do some choking on the pond water while retrieving the ball. He will learn to get the ball with less swallowing of water. I also tossed the ball on land and he jumped high to try to catch a bounced balled.

More road work

At about five pm I did a little more road running with Travis along side the golf cart - or it is more like road jogging as Travis is not into full out racing like Bruce was. Once back home I did some in yard ball tossing for him.

I kept Travis in his crate for part of the day and in his dog yard for part of the day. He has not jumped out of the yard again, but I am keeping him in a crate when I take off with my dogs for their two runs a day.

From Travis the Lab

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day two with Travis the lab

Thursday - my second day with my new foster dog

From Travis the Lab

Because Travis jumped out the four foot gated dog yard yesterday evening. I left him in his crate overnight. Unlike Bruce's first night where he barked and whined nearly all night Travis was very quiet and my sleep was not disturbed.

Heeling at my side

At about seven in the morning I went to Travis' crate and asked for a SIT. Then I waited until he sat and looked me in the eyes then I eye clicked and treated (Eye clicks are just a strong blink of both eyes as the dog is watching you.) Then I opened his crate door and stood in front of it. I blocked the opening and waited for Travis to sit. Once he did I slipped on his choke chain, asked for a sit, then clicked and let him walk out. As soon as he hit the end of the leash I stepped off fast in another direction. This is to teach him that I am the leader and that he need to kept track of where I am and what I am doing and follow me. As soon as he reached my left side I clicked and treated.

I walked again and once again he surged ahead and I changed direction. I kept this up until he was slowing down and paying more attention to where I was. I slipped his leash over a fence post and said, STAY and went to pull out the golf cart for our run. Travis barked and whined. I waited until he was quiet and sitting before approaching him and asking for a sit again before removing his leash from the fence.

Road Run

I had my two smaller dogs on the golf cart and ran Travis along side it. He is not a champion sled puller and it is easy to keep him from pulling ahead. He jogged along side the cart and I would click and stop and treat from time to time. Also I would stop the cart and walk him around asking for heel some too. Travis needs a lot of work on heeling. He kept wanting to just walk ahead and doesn't kept track I where I am. I have to keep changing direction. He will learn that it is just easier to walk with me. He is sitting faster and more consistently when I stop and ask for a sit.

Fetching the Ball

I stop and let him cool off in the pond -- in the shallow water along its edge as i still have him on a four foot lead. Back home play some fetch with him with a tennis ball which he loves. When he is excited he is a little mouthy and also holds on the ball a bit from time to time.

I place him back into his crate and feed him. Then I walk my dogs. Travis barks when we leave the yard, but his barking dies down quickly as soon as we are out of sight. In a couple of hours I placed Travis in his dog yard. He barked some when I left him but didn't climb out. He stayed in his yard until his evening fun.

Evening workout

Repeat of morning cart run along and stops at the pond to cool off and some heeling and sitting training. Then some ball tossing in my yard.

Meeting my two smaller dogs

I had my two little dogs loose in my yard while Travis played fetch. His energy level made my smallest dog, BooBoo nervous and she just stayed out of his way. Gigit who is about thirty pounds was less intimidated by him, but she does take a while before she is trusting enough of large dogs to play with them. With the ball around Travis doesn't give other dogs to much attention.

Travis has a good energy but is not over the top like Bruce. He will fit into more families since he doesn't require as much daily exercise as a hyper dog.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Travis the lab my new foster dog

New Foster Dog - Travis - Day One

On Wednesday morning a pet rescue friend picked up Bruce (he is leaving on transport Thursday) and dropped off Travis, for me to foster - another black male Labrador Retriever that is up for adoption at Labs4Rescue. She put Travis in a dog crate.

Loose Leash Heeling Lesson

After I ran my dogs I came back and took Travis out of his crate and placed a choke chain and four foot lead on him. I walked him about my yard a little to see how much he pulled. He pulled pretty hard on the leash when he wanted to smell something. I kept changing directions whenever he reached the end of the leash and start to pull on it.

I kept doing this until he started to pay more attention to me. Whenever he did give me his attention I clicked and treated him. Travis doesn't know how to take treats from my hand nicely. He put my whole hand in his month a few times trying to figure out how to get the treat. I kept my fist closed until he started to lick at my hand then I would open it so he could get at the treat. The treats were hot dog slices and his dog food kibble.

Clicker Training

I also started to ask for a SIT and what for it before clicking and treating him. He didn't seem to know the word, SIT, but responded more to the upward tug on the leash -- if I had his attention. Once sitting I clicked and treated.

After I could walk a bit without him trying to just drag me. I pulled out the golf cart to take him on a road run. I placed my two smaller dogs on the cart in their halters and let Travis run along side the golf cart. He is not a Speed Racer, more like a Lope Along Larry. He didn't run as fast as he could and before long he was staying right at the side with a loose leash. This was a nice change from the full out racing and arm pulling Bruce did until he was tried. Travis also tucker out faster than Bruce. I only had to travel about half the distance I did with Bruce to give him a good workout. But he will gain stamina with farther workouts.

We stopped by the pond on the road and I let Travis walk into the water where he laid down to cool off. Once back home I place him in his own dog yard.

Evening - Road Run and Pond

At about 5:30 pm I took Travis for another short road run with the golf cart and another stop at the pond to cool off (still on the four foot lead). I also did a little heeling on a loose leash work and sitting. He is still pulling ahead when he smell something he want to check out. He wants the treats but is still not sitting too fast.

I also tried Travis' leash to a fallen tree for a few snap shots in the evening sun.

From Travis the Lab

Jumped the fence

After I exercised Travis I put him back in his dog yard and let my other foster dog, Howie the Hound, and my German Shepard dog, Lobo, out of their dog yards to run around my larger fenced in yard. Travis was very excited and kept barking and barking and jumping up at the gate of his yard.

When I went and got dog food for my dogs and started to put them up after their playtime Travis grew even more excited and jumped the four foot dog yard gate. I was right there and grabbed him by his collar and snapped on a leash and walked him to his crate. I am not ready to have him met my dogs loose, specially when he is so excited and their is food around. So now I know that Travis can climb a four foot fence. I will keep in crated for this night.

Today's Summary of Lessons

I worked with Travis on the following: SIT, take food nicely from my hand, walking on a leash without pulling on it, getting his attention, and jogging along with the golf cart.

Health note: Travis' stool is on the soft side, but this can just be because he is excited and in a new place and eating new food and drinking new water.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day Seven with Foster Dog Bruce

Sunday - but we still work on training

In the morning I walked Bruce up the road to the pond. I figure he can be off lead next to the road since he is able to focus so well on the ball. There is not as much traffic on this road on Sunday. Bruce did fairly well with keeping a loose leash on the walk to the pond and I did do some recalls when he forgot. The command COME is an important one that should be consistently worked on.

Bruce LOVES the pond and the ball fetching. If his new owns can bring him to pond, lake, or other waterway often he will be in heaven. Bruce is bit too much in a hurry to leave to get the ball that he sometimes doesn't notice where I toss it. I kept changing the spot in the pond where I threw the ball so he would learn to watch where I tossed it. He is still chomping too much on the ball and it is still hard to remove it easily from his month. I am now asking for a sit each time before I try to take the ball from him. I am also clicking for when he stops chomping on it for a second. It will take time for him to learn to have a less active mouth when holding the ball.

I had family over today and Bruce did a lot of barking as we where working in the yard and he could see us, but was in his dog yard. After a long while he did shut up, but would start again if I past his yard while going to get tools. He does need to learn more self control and it will come when he see that the barking just doesn't get him what he wants. From time to time when he was quiet I would bring him a few dogs kibbles and ask for a sit and click and treat.

In the evening I played ball in the yard with him. He got too hot and went and jumped in my goldfish pond with his ball. My largest fish was upset and nearly jumped out the pond. I will have to keep Bruce out of my fish pond.

Good News

My golf cart is fixed again! Bought a part at the store yesterday to fix it. So now I can use it once again to help exercise Bruce.

I have been having some Internet connection troubles and it is hard for me to get online and update this blog. It is especially hard to add photos to it. Hope this problem ends soon.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Fostering Bruce now day six

Saturday - rainy day

With the rainy morning I didn't exercise any of the dogs. As I took care of my ponies and did a few other outside chores Bruce barked and whined wanting to try to demand my attention. I just ignored him. When he finally shut up I and went and feed him.

By evening the clouds were still thick, but it was not raining so I walked Bruce on a six foot lead through the woods to the pond again. Without his morning exercise he was extra hyper, but he did control himself rather well and didn't try to drag me down the wet trail. I did a few recalls when he put a little too much pressure on the leash.

At the pond I asked for a sit and then took out the tennis ball - a new one I just bought today since I didn't have time to look for the one Bruce lost yesterday. Seeing the ball he grew even more excited. For about five minutes I played fetch with Bruce tossing the ball both in the pond and on land. He is fast and was able to jump and catch the bounced ball a few times. I wonder how he would do with a Frisbee?

He did choke a little on the pond water from time to time. He also chomps on the ball too much while trying to give it back to me and he pinched my fingers a few times. I also started to ask for a sit before attempting to take the ball back.

Down needs more work

I asked for a sit and then a DOWN before tossing the ball. Bruce sits very fast, but is having a hard time with down while playing ball. He is just too excited. He also still flops on his side for the DOWN command. He will need to get better with DOWN without the distraction of the ball.

The mosquitoes were out in large numbers and really starting to bug me so I cut the playtime short and started to head home. Bruce kept wanting to find where I had the ball and tried to circle me a few times. I shorten the leash and asked for more attention and for a heel back down the trail. I also keep stopping and asking for a SIT which I would click and treat.

Back in my yard I let Bruce back off lead and tossed the ball for him some more. The rain was holding off if not the mosquitoes. I also tried DOWN a few more times and he did do a bit better with them now.

By the way, I was told that Bruce has been adopted and will be traveling up north on Thursday April 23, 2009. I do hope he will have owners willing to keep up his training and give him enough exercise.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lab and pond they go together

Friday - fifth day - the pond

I dug out my extension leash, six foot leash, and tennis ball, clipped on my treat bag, then went to get Bruce. As always I asked for a sit and attention on me before I clicked and opened the gate. This time instead of letting him straight out I blocked the opening and waited for him to sit again before clipping on the leash.

The exercise outing planned for this morning would be to walk Bruce down a wooded trail to a large pond on my neighbor's land. This pond was a bit bigger than the one right off the gravel road and I didn't have to worry about letting him off lead and him getting in the road. We don't have a lot of traffic, but do get enough to worry about the dogs loose on the road. I didn't know yet if I would let him off lead or not, it would depend on how attracted he would be to the ball and pond.

I asked Bruce to stay in a heel position until we came to the trail through the woods. He was very good at keeping the leash loose most of the time. Once on the trail I let him go ahead of me to the end of the six foot leash so he could do some good sniffing of whatever passed along the trail before us.

If he kept only an ounce of so presser on the lead I would keep walking. But if he pulled harder on the leash I would quickly start to run backwards and pull Bruce towards me while saying the word, COME. This was the start of his new recall/come lessons. Once he arrived in front of me I would ask for a sit then click and treat. Then we would travel on again until he pulled on the leash and then I would repeat the come lesson. He was very excited about the new smells along the trail and also did some marking.

Once at the pond I asked for a sit and had to ask again before Bruce in his excitement over seeing this large pond would give me any attention. I replaced the six foot lead with the 27 foot extension leash. Then I clicked and let him go into the pond. He ran right in until he was swimming. I pulled the leash a bit to lead him to circle round and back to the land. He came out coughing from water he swallowed while swimming.

Once he finished coughing he want to ahead back info the pond. I wouldn't allow him to return to the water without first having him sit and look into my eyes. I would then blink-click and allow him back into the water. I took the tennis ball from my pocket and when he came out of the water I showed it to him. Well, he must have played ball in the past because he got even more excited and kept jumping up. I would not toss the ball until he would sit to the command SIT. I tossed it into the water just a few feet off shore. Bruce quickly fetched the ball and returned to me.

He was chomping madly on the ball and jumping up on me wanting to give it to me. I couldn't get it out of his month without in countering his moving teeth. He would have mangled a duck retrieving it.

Well this water retrieving was Bruce's passion! He was so excited about it that he had a hard time giving me any focus. When he couldn't see the ball - it was right in my hand -- he would run around in a frenzy sniffing the ground and water looking for it. Calling him did nothing. I had to wait for him to finally get a sniff of the ball in my hand before he could focus enough to hear my sit command.

Bruce is a fetching fool!

With each toss he got better about refocusing back on me once I had the ball. It was also getting a bit easier to take the ball from his month without getting pinched by his teeth. He also stopped jumping up to try to give me the ball back. Unlike the day before with the sock game each and every time he would return the ball all the way back to me. He didn't want any treats right now all he wanted was the ball tossed so he could retrieve it again. After he became entangled in the extension leash for the second time I removed it. I could see that he would not take off -- this game was way to much fun.

I threw the ball near, far, high, and low, on land and into the pond. I was soaking wet along with the ball and Bruce. It was a bit too early in the morning for good light to take photos. I will have to try for photos in better light.

I also asked for DOWN but Bruce had a hard time with this. He just didn't want to lay down in his excited state. I wouldn't toss the ball until he finally laid down. I repeated the down lesson a few more times until Bruce would lay down quicker. We will have to work more on this again.

I hope whomever adopts Bruce from Labs4Rescue will take him swimming often. Many labs love water and retrieving. Once we returned home and I put him in his crate and took my dogs for their walk Bruce didn't whine and bark for as long a time when we walked out the gate. He is learning that fussing doesn't make me run back and that I always return. And once back while I cleaned his dog yard he didn't whine and bark but just watched as I worked. He is learning self control.

Evening fun - Bruce is not a tracker

I worked late on the computer and it was nearly dark before I noticed. My son found our cat and brought her inside and I let all the dogs loose but Lobo my shepherd. Bruce ran around the yard sniffing and then back to me. I had a tennis ball so I asked for a sit before I tossed it for him. We played fetch. He attention was on the ball and he didn't pay no mind to the other dogs in the yard.

The ball bounced into the crawling iris ground cover and it took Bruce a few minutes to locate it by smell, probably because of his excitement. But then later he went into the wood area and came back out without the ball. For the next ten minute he ran around the whole area yard looking for the ball but couldn't never find it again. It will turn up, but I have had dogs in the past that would have found it very quickly using their nose.

I put the dogs up and gave them a raw beef bone.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day four of fostering Bruce

Thursday - end of the road runs

On Bruce's morning road run he again seems to be a bit tender footed and kept to the side of the road where the gravel was the thinnest. I work him at a slower speed and took more walking brakes and worked on the DOWN command.

I stopped by a puddle and let Bruce check it out. Being a lab that met walking right in and laying down in the water while he drank. I also stopped a the pond along the road and let him walk into it as far as his leash length allowed. I could tell he wanted to go much deeper into the pond -- maybe tomorrow I will put him on a long leash and let him swim.

I clipped his leash to the gold cart and took a few photos and then clipped it to a fence to take a few more. I introduced the word, STAY when I walked away from him to take the photos, but it will take a more lessons on STAY before he gets its meaning and more still before he will stay put without being leashed to the spot.

When I go into my yard and Bruce see me he will start barking and whining wanting me to go let him out. He needs time to learn that all that noise doesn't get him what he wants.

New game

The evening run didn't happen because my golf cart broke as I was heading up the road. So I tied an old sock to my pony whip and flicked it at Bruce through the fence. When he showed interest in the sock I click and treated. My other foster dog in the next yard showed interest in this game and I flick the sock at him and clicked and treated his interest too. When I did this Bruce would bark up a storm wanting to draw back my attention to him. I would wait until he quit barking and then ask him to sit - which I would click and treat him for.

Bruce got very excited about this new sock on a whip game and jumped and leaped to try to grab the sock. To kept him from going to wild I would stand still from time to time and ask for a sit before I would click and then continue the game. He finally caught the sock and it pulled off of the whip string. He then bounced around a minute chomping on the sock then dropped it. I then practice SIT with him to calm him down some. Between sits he would jump up at the gate.

My clicker broke and I had to go inside for another one, but I didn't have anymore of the clickers that had a loud sound only a medium sound click. For outside training I like the loud clicker and it is what is needed for working on a gravel road with a golf cart.

My son found my cat in the yard and brought her inside his room so I could let Bruce out into my larger yard to check it out. I didn't want to take a chance that he would find the cat on his own. I put my smallest dog, Boo-Boo inside -- she can be of a trouble maker with new dogs -- an left Gigit my heeler(ACD)/corgi mix out. She is usually OK with new dogs if they are not to overwhelming.

I let Bruce out and he walked around sniffing and marking. Gigit walked up to him and they sniffed each other. Gigit was a bit stiff legged which showed she felt a bit stressed at this meeting, but Bruce just sniffed and then went on to sniff other things. I walked to the back of the yard and both dogs followed.

At the back fence the neighbor's cows saw us and came to the fence. Gigit barked at them when they crowded too close to the fence line. I told her to stop barking. Bruce gave them a sniff or two through the fence and did the same to my two ponies that were in the next yard then lost interest in them. Now if the cows or ponies were running Bruce may show more interest.

Soon Bruce found an old bone and laid down to chew on it. When he stopped chewing after a minute I showed him the old sock and had him sit in front of me. I can tossed the sock in the air above him and clicked when he jumped up and grabbed the sock. I did this about four more times and tossed the sock a little few yards away where he had to run to grab it. I clicked when he grabbed the sock. He sometimes dropped the sock then came for his treat or sometimes he would carry it back before dropping it for the treat. The treats were dry dog kibble and sometimes slices of hot dogs.

I then tossed the sock back into his yard and he followed. I clicked and treated and then shut his gate. I went inside and came back with a few raw beef bones to give him and the others. I think Bruce will sleep quietly tonight.

Bruce keeps trying demand what he want so would do best an owner willing to keep reminding him that they are the pack leader. So far he also seems on the hyper excitable side and will need someone willing to keep his mind and body well exercised with active training and game/play time. I could be many years before he would be willing to be a couch potato. My nine year old shepherd still needs a good long walk at least once a day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Day three with my foster dog

Wednesday - day three - more exercise

Bruce had a repeat of the past morning routine of road running, walking on leash, and sitting. He took the treats from my hand much more gently without the use of his teeth. He has a huge appetite and is definitely food motivated which is so helpful when clicker training.

He slowed down a little faster on the runs and I think his feet maybe a bit tender from the rough gravel on the road. I traveled closer to the edge and let him run in the grass on the side of the road or on the road edge where the gravel was thinner. I also clipped the leash to the head halter from time to time to let him get the feel of it in use. He did keep trying to remove it from time to time but the time intervals will expand as he get more use to wearing it.

I skipped the road run at lunch time and took him out again in the evening. I had brought home my two ponies from my Mother's pasture and put them back in their pony yard. So now I stopped at their yard and let Bruce met them though the gate. He was a bit intimidated by their size, but didn't growl or try to bite at them, another good first meeting. Hope the meeting of my cat will go as well, if my cat will show up when I am working with Bruce. Like some cats she is not around much during daylight hours. She is a mostly outside cat and spends the daytime asleep who knows where.

First Bath

After the evening run Bruce jumped into my tiny 80 gallon goldfish pond when I tried to let him check it out and drink from it. Don't think the fish were to happy about it. Yep, he is a typical lab and loves to take a dunking in water.

I had noticed that Bruce smelled a bit like urine, but the dunking in the pond increased the smell to the point of making my nose crinkle. So clipped his leash to the fence I bought out the hose and give him a bath with a special mix to help rid him of the urine scent. He did very well with the bath. Some dogs love to swim in a pond but throw a fit when you bath them. Bruce just stood there and let me wash him. I did get quite wet from him shaking off the water before I could step back away from him.

NOTE: special bath mix for stinky dogs: 1 quart 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (available from any drugstore), 1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap, such as Ivory. Mix and quickly apply to the stinky pet. Let sit a few minutes and then rinse off.

I put this mix into a hose sprayer and it gets mixed with water as it is sprayed on the dog. This dilutes the formula, but it still works well if the dog is not supper stinky. If he is use the above method.

On this third day Bruce had repeat lessons on sitting and focus and new lessons on "DOWN" -- which needs much more work. At this point he seems to think that the down lesson means flop onto his side and roll around the ground or flop into my lap. Another good quite night without any excessive barking from Bruce.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Second day of fostering Bruce

Tuesday - Second Day - let the fun begin

Bright and early Tuesday morning I searched around for my clicker and treat bag for Bruce's lessons. I filled the treat bag with dog kibble and sliced hot dogs. After waiting for him to sit and look at me at the gate to the dog yard I clicked and open the gate while letting his head slide into the choke-chain with a four foot leash clipped on.

He quickly tried to drag me to the nearest tree. I changed direction and went the other way which soon had him hitting the end of the leash and turning and running ahead of me once again. I kept the leash loose and the only time the choke-chained tightened around his neck was when he hit the end of the four foot leash. After several more quick changes of direction he soon started to pay a bit of attention to where I was in relationship to himself.

I clicked for his attention and handed him a treat. Bruce nearly devoured my whole hand! I don't think he has had many people handing him treats. I closed my fist around the treat and wait for him to start licking other than biting at my hand before I opened my fist and let him have the treat. I asked for SIT and clicked and treated each sit. We also had to keep working on taking the treat nicely.

Exercise - time to run!

Bruce was wound up and needed to release energy. "A good dog is a tried dog" is a quote I have heard on dog training shows and in books and it seems to be true. Most dogs in America are not receiving the exercise they need to be healthy physically and mentally. Just letting your dog out in the small city or suburbia back yard to entertain himself is not exercise enough for nearly all dogs.

I ran Bruce up and down my gravel road along side of my golf cart. At first he pulled on the leash very hard and ran fast, but after a bit he slowed down a bit and trotted along on the golf cart on a loose leash. As soon as he was moving along on a loose lease I clicked and stopped and give him a treat. When I started moving again he would pull and run fast again. It will take him a while for him to figure out that it is easier to keep at the speed I am moving without all the pulling.

I would stop at my house and let him drink before moving on down the road again. We went up to the highway and then back down past my house to the other end of the road. I would stop from time to time and let walk him around a bit to mark the bushes and catch his breath.

After this road trip workout I put Bruce in a dog crate with a little dog kibble and then took my own three dogs and other foster dog for there morning hike. Of course Bruce threw a fit and barked and whined until I was out of hearing distance. He will have to learn that all that fusing doesn't accomplish anything.

When I returned from my hike with my dogs I placed Bruce back in his dog yard and gave him a raw beef bone to enjoy.

NOTE: Each time that I want to release Bruce from his crate or dog yard I stand and wait for him to quit jumping at the gate and to sit. You also want to wait for barking to stop if the dog is barking. Once he focuses on my eyes I click or blink (another marker signal) and then open the gate. I hold the choke-chain so that it slips over his head has he is going through the gate. I then ask and wait for a sit before clicking and moving on.

At lunch I repeated our road run and introduced Bruce to a dog head halter. I just put it on him to wear but continued to keep the leash connected to his neck collar. He attempted to remove it off his face, but I just kept him moving along. A head halter makes it easier for most people to control a large dog and make it harder for him to keep pulling at the leash.

In the evening I again repeated the road running and walking and sitting lessons. Then he was returned to his dog yard and giving some dog food and another raw beef bone to chew on. I noticed his teeth had some plaque and these bones will help clean his teeth.

So today Bruce had lessons on sitting, taking treats from a hand nicely, attention and focus on me, and self control. He did fairly well and showed improvement with each outing, but still has a way to go. Tuesday night Bruce did not whine and bark throughout the night. He just barked about the same as my other dogs when they heard the coyotes calling or the neighborhood dogs fussing. He did bark and whine when he heard me outside feeding our cat.

P.S. Please consider adopting Bruce from Labs4Rescue

Monday, April 13, 2009

Why adopt a black lab

Top Ten Reasons to Adopt a Black Lab (as posted on Labs4Rescue)

10. They are so easy to find in a snowstorm!
9. If you like to wear jeans a lot, black fur doesn't really show up as much as yellow!
8. Black and white photography is so much fun!
7. Their coats are so shiny and their teeth look whiter on a black background!
6. You and your new black lab will make a great fashion statement, as all the new hot collars look great on a black background!
5. You never know if they've been rolling in mud!
4. Makes a game of hide and seek in the dark, oh so challenging!
3. More likely to scare off a bad guy, before they lick the intruder to death!
2. You look so chic and accessorize so easily with a black lab. They match that little black dress or black pants that go with everything!
1. Walking a black lab makes you look 10 lbs thinner!

On a serious note, black Labs are the last adopted and are the first to be put to sleep...based on coat color alone. Please help change this. At Labs4rescue we say "Save a BLACK Lab, have a friend for life!"

OK now visit Labs4Rescue and check out all the black Labrador Retrievers.

P.S. The photo above is of Bruce my foster lab. Please considering fostering a lab and help save a dog's life.

Bruce a black male lab foster dog

Monday - Bruce arrives

Bruce, my new foster dog arrives at my home Monday evening April 13th. He came from being boarded at a vet's office where I don't think he was receiving any exercise, or not enough for a young active lab. Bruce is a black Labrador Retriever male that weighs about 55 pounds or so, but he is a bit on the thin side. I will be foster Bruce for Labs4Rescue.

I walked him around a little to let him smell and mark. I walked him up to the other two dogs in their dog yards and let them sniff through the fence. My dogs and Bruce were excited and a bit tense at this first meeting, with Bruce, the new dog, showing the most nerviness. My large male German Shepherd gave one growl, but no one tried to bark or attack each other through the fence, so it was a good first meeting. I placed Bruce in is new dog yard for the night.

I asked him to SIT and he surprises me by knowing the meaning of the word and sitting so I could click toss him a treat (clicker training). I repeated this several times and though he was super hype he was hungry and wanted the treats so most of the time he sat on the first or second command of the word, SIT.

That night he barked and whined in distress the whole night through. He didn't sleep much and neither did I. But being in a new place with new sounds and smells and new dogs to learn about is stressful so I didn't let myself get too mad at the sleepless night.

Fostering a dog can help make the dog more adoptable if the dog gets needed exercise to unwind from the kennel crazies and you can do some basic training - at least working on the command SIT for treats. Just getting out of a multiple dog kennel situation and into a family home will help calm a dog down.


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