Category Archives: Dog training

St. Patrick’s Day fun day

We went on a spring walk on Saturday.  It was a glorious, sunny, cool day that was perfect for walking the dogs.  The highlight of this walk was that we joined our local Newfoundland Club to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Everyone was encouraged to show their spirit by dressing in green for a costume contest.

I had a vision in my head and gathered up the supplies to create two fluffy skirts that would bounce and sway with the “Newfoundland Wiggle”.

They turned out exactly as I wanted and their movement was perfect!

Fortunately, we weren’t the only ones that dressed up (our dogs) and we found ourselves in the midst of a very festive group.

 

After we left the walk, Maisie and I raced to our training class.  We are back in classes working toward being a certified therapy team. I decided to leave her dressed, figuring that the staff would be entertained by her outfit and they were!  Her skirt proved to be a good distraction for at least one of the other dogs to work through, and Maisie had her best class ever.  Maybe because she was tired, but I also think she was showing off because she felt special.  She was exhausted from it all once we got home!

We hope you all had a fun weekend too!

CGC for Winn!

Winn and I did it! She got her CGC!

CGC stands for Canine Good Citizen. She and I met with a CGC evaluator and we had to pass several requirements without the aid of treats.

This was our second attempt, the first time, well that didn’t go so well.

Winn and I enrolled in puppy school when she was about 12 weeks old.  She proved to be a quick learner.  She really loves treats and rewards, making her very responsive when learning new commands.  After we completed the course and she passed her AKC S.T.A.R. puppy test, we moved on to basic obedience classes.   We quickly progressed up through the levels and after about 8 weeks, found ourselves prepping for the CGC test.

We took  several practice tests, each time she did really well.  We were so ready for this test and I had no worries about passing!

That day, when we walked in, I was so confident of success but Winn had a different idea. There was so much distraction, and I wasn’t allowed to regain her attention with a treat.  Once she realized there were no treats, she completely checked out and was far more interested in watching and meeting all of the dogs that were being escorted in and out of day care. Mid-way through, after failing 3 of the first 5 tasks, I grabbed my treat bag and we continued on, using it as another training opportunity.

Did we over train? Did I push too hard too fast? Did I expect too much? I decided to let it go for a while. We enrolled in a rally class which allowed us to continue to bond as a team while we practiced and learned more obedience tricks.  We had fun together and she continued to impress me with her willingness to learn.  We entered a couple of rally trials and did really well, even getting her AKC Rally Novice title!IMG_4419Then, we went back to training and worked a little more.  This time, taking it more slowly, mixing in our rally class and keeping a sense of humor.  After 7 weeks, I scheduled another test.  Two days before our test she went into heat!  I checked with our trainer and she could test as long as she wore “feminine protection”.  I knew this might be distracting for her but I decided to go.  I figured  if we didn’t pass, we still had one more week on our training package, we could review and try again.  If we still didn’t get it, I’d just put it aside for while.

I left Winn in the car while I filled out the paperwork for the test.  I didn’t want to bring her in until our evaluator was ready for us. We were quickly whisked into the private training room, walking by the main training ring that was filled with a beginner obedience class.  Instantly there was a chorus of barking and howling dogs.  I caught the eye of the trainer in charge of that class and she had a look of surprise about what had just happened.  As the door was closed behind us, I burst out laughing.  It really is a thing, a girl in heat will drive the boys crazy!IMG_5321I was a little nervous but Winn was calm, cool and collected.  One by one, she performed each task perfectly.  I went in knowing we might fail, but she proved me wrong and made me so proud.

These are the some of the components of the CGC test (these pictures and videos were from our last class before we scheduled the test for the first time, about 4 months ago):

  •  Meet and greet a stranger: she has to sit and stay by my side while I meet someone and then do it again and let them pet her and touch her ears, mouth and feet.  This was generally pretty easy but a couple of times when she was tired she barked at the stranger.  She is still a puppy, even if she is a big one, so we kept working on it to make her more comfortable. After lots and lots of practice with strangers, we are both finally confident about this task.IMG_3662
  • One of the most challenging steps was approaching another dog and owner, sitting quietly while we talked and then walking away without lunging or approaching the other dog.  This was the hardest aspect of the test for Maisie, Winn did pretty well in practice but often times she tries to kiss the other dog. She passed this perfectly, meeting a dog we had never met before.  I was so proud.
  • Winn had to sit and stay (this can also be done with a down if that is easier for the dog) while I walked away and remain sitting while I walked back towards her and returned to her side.  I walked away again and then called her, she should come quickly, then she must stop and sit in front of me without mowing me down and finish with a sit on my left side.
  • One of the most important aspects is loose leash walking. With a dog of Winn’s size and strength, leash manners are a must.  We work together on and off leash, and she is such a good walker, in training sessions and around the neighborhood. For the test, we had to follow commands called out by the evaluator and also had to walk with a loose leash through a crowd.IMG_3671IMG_3674
  • The final component is supervised separation.  I needed to leave her and be out of sight for 3 minutes.  She can’t panic, bark, whine or pull away.  She had no problem with this and waited patiently for me to return.

IMG_3999So here we are with our CGC ribbon, another wonderful accomplishment for this amazing girl!IMG_5332

Friday Night Lights anyone?

“Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”

For those of you who don’t know, this is a reference to one of my favorite tv shows about a high school football team, the coach, his family and a small football-crazed town in west Texas.

Last Friday, Winn got to have her own Friday Night Lights moment by being a rally girl. Granted, her rally girl duties were very different from those highlighted in the TV show, but she had fun nonetheless.

For the last several months, Winn and I have been participating in Rally Obedience classes.  Rally is an obstacle course set up with 10-15 stations, each station involves some sort of obedience trick. Sits, downs, turns, change of pace, weaving through cones in different patterns, changing direction and combinations of any of the above, all while remaining in a perfect heel, can be found in a Rally course.  It has been a great way to reinforce all of the training that we have learned in her previous puppy and manners classes.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, Winn and I entered our first rally trial. I wasn’t expecting much from our performance, I thought of it as another training and socialization opportunity.  She (and I) would be introduced to a new environment with lots of dogs, their owners and the noise, excitement and stress that goes along with an enclosed dog sporting event.

That was a long day.  I got there early to find a place to set up her extra-large crate and we ended up being the last dog of the day to compete.  It reminded me of sitting around at a swim meet when my kids were little.  You wait and wait and wait for your brief time in the ring.  CB37FC5A-CA34-49E0-A2AD-A046DC08B6BEWinn was so good that day. I stayed by her crate and read a book.  We went out a couple of times to walk around, do a few commands and then come back in.  By the time it was our turn, she was relaxed and comfortable with the noises and other dogs around us. She did everything she was supposed to, I was the one who almost blew it for us.  I walked right by station 8 (with Winn in a perfect heel of course) but when I approached station 9, I knew something wasn’t right.  Fortunately, I figured it out in time and was able to go back and re-approach the sign with only a small penalty. Even with error, we finished in first place and got our first qualifying leg toward her title.  Now we just needed to do that two more times!277F883C-B2B6-40FB-9B6B-748BEADE952EOn Friday, we did it two more times!

During the first trial, just seconds before it was our turn, the dog in the ring ahead of us decided to mark (pee on) the second to last sign of the course. His handler was mortified, it’s an automatic disqualification and he quickly got his dog out of the ring. As Winn and I stood off to the side, there was a flurry of activity and excitement.  The area and the sign were sterilized and the judge came over and made a point of telling me that he had moved the sign.  I wasn’t all that concerned about it being distracting but maybe it was.  Winn was a little off and didn’t follow my commands as well as she usually does but we qualified, and then waited and waited and waited for our next trial.

Winn napped most of the afternoon, so about 30 minutes before our group was up I took her outside. On the way out, a dog lunged and barked at her, scaring the bejeezus out of both of us.  When we came back in, she quickly squirted into the safety of her crate.  I let her stay there until our number was called on deck, but at that point, she had no intention of venturing out again!  I tried everything; different treats, different voices, my friend came over with cheese but she wouldn’t budge. As I continued to try to lure her out, I nervously watched the progress of the dog in the ring.  I was coming to the conclusion that we would have to withdraw from the trial, and I was now trying to picture how I was going to get her out of the building.

Suddenly I realized that the spot she got barked at was close to the opening of her crate, so I grabbed the sides and whipped the crate around to face another direction.  Winn stuck her head out to take a look, and thankfully decided that all seemed safe, so we quickly headed for the ring.  We walked right in with no time to think about what had just happened and managed to have a nearly perfect run.  It was our best performance of our three trials, and she got her AKC Rally Novice title!

As I was packing up our gear, I was chuckling.  When I was standing in line to check in for our second trial, there was a gentleman behind me asking a lot of questions.  He wondered about novice and I told him we were in that level.  He was curious about doing it with his dog and said he would come back to watch us.  As Winn and I were navigating our left 360 turn followed by a right 360 turn,  I caught his eye and saw him smiling.  He stopped us on our way out and said “beautiful dog, you looked like you were driving a beer truck”.  Hands down, that’s the funniest thing anyone has ever said to me about my giant puppy!

Over the next two weekends, we are doing four more trials with World Cynosport Rally. The signs are the same as AKC Rally, but I can reward her in the ring.  Winn does really well with rewards so I think this will be a little easier for us as we continue to build our skills.

We are having fun, and I’m so proud of my little rally girl.

“Clear eyes, full hearts, CAN’T LOSE!”

A Year in Review

Wow! What a year we have had!

Looking back,  there were so many fun times and new milestones.

In January, Maisie and I started down the path to become a certified therapy team.  Even though we had to put our training on hold a couple of times, she got her Canine Good Citizen title in June which was the first major step for us to accomplish before going on to therapy certification.281FA15F-6CC5-43FE-9683-C4C66A27AD1DAlso in January, I had my first conversation with Winn’s breeder and made the decision that we would open our home to a very special puppy.  Since my preference was for a brown girl, we had to wait until she was born to know for sure if there would be a puppy for us.

Pink girl was the first one born on March 6th and I waited with fingers crossed for several days before I was assured that there would be a brown girl for me.  Eight weeks later, on the day that I went with my husband and daughter to meet the litter I learned that pink girl would be mine and that was certainly one of the best days of the year!IMG_0639On May 13th, the day before Mother’s Day, we made our second trip to Wisconsin and brought Winn home.  It was a lovely day, a little emotional as she left her first home in order to join our family, but I hugged and snuggled her as we made our way back to Illinois.  We stopped for lunch and then pulled over for another potty break, found a nursery with gorgeous hanging baskets and we purchased some for our front porch.  All summer, as I sat on the porch and admired those baskets I would remember that happy day and how much fun it was bringing her home.

In June, we celebrated Annie’s 11th birthday!IMG_1803  It was also the one year anniversary of this blog.  I started the blog to tell Annie’s Story.  At that time I wanted to give it year and then reevaluate since I wasn’t sure what else I might include, how it would evolve, or even if I could continue to find things about which to write. While I’m still finding my “blogging voice”, I have discovered that I really enjoy the process and that there is always something that inspires a story.  We met with a professional photographer to document the time that we became a three dog family.  I wanted to do it while Winn was still small, she was already growing so fast! We got the most beautiful pictures out of that photo shoot and the perfect image for our main pageNewfGirlsWeb-28There was a flurry of activity over the summer.  We took Winn for her first road trip to Colorado.  This was where she developed her skill of getting into anything possible and she discovered her love of paint.

IMG_2444Winn graduated from puppy class and quickly advanced through multiple levels of training. IMG_2876Annie and I had a very special day when she got her new rabies certificate listing me as her owner.  We no longer had any reminder of her previous, difficult life.  That blog post was shared and viewed many times on Facebook and is my favorite one of the year.IMG_3198 (1)In the fall, I volunteered at several events for our local Newfoundland Club and learned so much about water and draft work as well as the test requirements to achieve those working titles.

All three were good sports when I dressed them up for Halloween.  With a nod to my New England roots, they were a fisherman with a fresh catch.  I wish I had a lobster trap or marker but they looked pretty cute.IMG_6703Time quickly passed with Thanksgiving and Christmas activities with friends and family.  IMG_6790It’s hard to believe that the year is coming to a close but I am very excited about all that we might do in the upcoming months.

I’m not one for resolutions, but I do have several goals set:

  1. For Maisie and I to complete our therapy team training and begin to do some volunteer work.
  2. For Winn and I to participate in obedience and working dog events and for her to get her Water Dog title this summer.
  3. For Annie and I to march in the Rescue Parade at Newfoundland National this spring.
  4. For me to become a better blogger and attend the Blogpaws conference to learn from other pet bloggers, meet some of the friends that we have made online, and get ideas on how to improve and develop our page.

Whew, that was lot so I guess all that is left to say is that we wish everyone a Happy New Year!

Winn’s week of firsts

We have had a lot of activity lately.

We started with a walk in the woods on Thanksgiving morning. Maisie and Annie immediately knew where we were, but Winn was beside herself with excitement.  She and I walk a lot and we have spent countless hours in training classes.  She has always walked perfectly on leash but suddenly she was pulling me harder than any dog has ever pulled me.  She had never done this before and I was amazed by her strength!

Stupidly, I had left my treat bag sitting on the kitchen counter so I had to resort to verbal commands and redirection to get her under control. It took a while, too long really, and my hand was raw from the leash but eventually we reached an agreement and we were able to walk along the path and enjoy a beautiful day.  We were stopped numerous times by people who wanted to meet the girls. Three Newfoundlands is a bit of a spectacle but I’m alway happy to answer questions about my favorite breed and I was so impressed with Winn as she sat by my side while we talked.  IMG_4658

Our next adventure took place at a doggie pool. We frequently go to the dog beach in town but it is very shallow so they don’t end up doing a lot of swimming.  Winn has been swimming a couple of times, but typically they all just romp and play in the shallow water while chasing toys and each other.

After taking some time to figure out the ramp to enter and exit the water, Winn enthusiastically took off.  She loved it! She’s a strong swimmer and her form was perfect. I was surprised that Maisie was the one who was nervous and wasn’t as confident in the water. Hopefully next time she will enjoy it more.

Notice how Winn is perfectly horizontal using her front and back legs and her tail to guide her around and change direction. She’s a natural!

Our final excursion was to a Christmas party for our local Newfoundland Club.  I debated  taking all three, Annie gets nervous in new situations and with strangers and sometimes Winn picks up on Annie’s nervousness and she gets nervous too.

They all had so much fun! We stayed toward the back of the room so that they could all get comfortable and Maisie and Winn kept creeping closer to the front so that they could see the other dogs and meet their owners. Annie plopped down next to me, joined the chorus of  barkers and stopped to meet and greet some people on our way out. What a great way to kick off the holiday season!