Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ode To A Blown Coat, a poem

Ode To A Blown Coat

This is a poem about dogs who blow coat.
(Poodle owners, this is where you can gloat).
If you’re lucky it’s twice,
Or if you’re not, then it’s thrice
Per annum when all dog fur floats.

It creeps up on you slowly at first,
And it moves from bad then to worse.
You move room to room,
With your vacuum and broom,
But the roaming fur can’t be reversed.

In corners, fur tumbleweeds hide.
And the dander, it flies into your eyes!
Clothes are carefully chosen
To match the fur interwoven
Into all that you keep stored inside.

Dogs' coats soon look modestly bare,
Matching the slight disrepair
Of your home and your floors
Of your couches and doors,
And ev’rything still covered in hair.

“Why do you do it?” they cry!
“Endure the stress and the sty?”
...Our dogs are our hearts
And we don't wish to part.
The fur is a gift to remember them by. 


I'm getting devoured in fur right now, so I decided to write a poem to memorialize this trying time of year. This is a little reminder that I am a dog trainer, not a poet. But, hey, fun! 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Dog training tip o' the day: Punishment will shut down behaviour but it may not address the underlying cause.

Dog training tip o' the day: Punishment will shut down behaviour but it may not address the underlying cause. 

Imagine you have a pot of water on the stove. The heat is turned on beneath it and gradually the water begins to boil. Then the water begins to boil over. "No problem," you say, "I'll solve the problem of the overflowing water by putting a lid on the pot!" The lid solves the immediate problem of water spilling out of the pot. However the heat underneath is still on and the water continues to boil. You just can't see it. Eventually the water boils over again, more strongly this time. The lid rattles, hot water pours out and you have a mess on your hands from a problem that you thought you'd previously fixed. Turns out you only masked your problem temporarily.

Now, to apply this to dogs, imagine you're walking your pup down the street and she sees another dog approaching. She barks, growls and lunges. You're displeased with this behaviour and don't want it to happen again (so embarrassing!) so you punish your dog by jerking the leash and telling her to knock it off to stop the behaviour. This may get her to snap out of her threat display, but it doesn't address the underlying issue. It doesn't turn the heat off under the pot, it just puts a lid on it. Your dog is likely still anxious (and may in fact be more anxious now since the leash correction and reprimand was pretty unpleasant too). That anxiety is the heat below the pot which is causing the explosive behaviour. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Amazing Dog Tricks brought to you by Cohen the Australian Shepherd

I made a video! It was originally going to be to mark Cohen's 5th birthday, but I missed that deadline by a couple months. Whoops! But anyways, we had a lot of fun filming this video. It would mean a lot to me if you watched it, and shared it if you were so inclined. Happy clicking!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Friday, February 28, 2014

Balancing goes glossy

A few weeks ago Cohen and I did a photo shoot for a magazine. It was loads of fun. The photos & article were released today. Here it is!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Agility trial round-up, birthday trial edition.

Trial roundup! Cohen and I had A Very Good Day yesterday. 5 runs. 3 Qs. NO KNOCKED BARS. It's better than we've done in a very long time.

Venue: McCanns
Hosted by: Dog Agility Ontario
Judge: Jennifer LaPierre

First run: Steeplechase. Q. 1st place! The course was fast and flowy. Only 6 weaves made it even faster. Cohen stuck her A-frame contacts like a champ. I was hugely surprised when I saw her placement. She placed first in 22-regular, and was second fastest overall, behind a competitor who competes at World's. Not a bad way to kick off the day!

Second run: Starter snooker. Q. 5th place. This run (finally) earned us our SGDC title. I've been chasing this Q for the better part of 2 years, but due to our bar knocking and "no mom the next obstacle is this one, trust me" it's remained elusive. It didn't go to plan, as Cohen was pretty sure that the next obstacle was X and I'd planned a whole route for Y, but I was able to think on my feet and finish our opening pretty smoothly. Our points suffered for it, but the Q was all I cared about.

Third run: Advanced standard. NQ. Cohen has apparently decided to start taking kamikaze leaps off the teeter again, so I drilled the teeter on the course a few times and took the call for training. Plus we had some issues in the weaves where she was popping out at the 10th pole again.

Fourth run: Advanced gamblers. NQ. More kamikaze teeter. Our issue was in the close though. Apparently Cohen was convinced that I wanted her to go into the wrong (awkward, hard to get to) end of the tunnel when the correct entrance was right ahead.

Fifth run: Steeplechase. Q. 1st place! No weave problems. Cohen nailed a really nice pinwheel and managed to keep the bar up on a fairly tight turn at a jump. Again, lovely A-frame contacts. And FAST! Couldn't be happier with her run.

Then I went home and OMG SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY! I felt bad for my guests, since the trial went 2 hours longer than I was anticipating, and I was in the last run of the day. It was a good day.

I still can't get over Cohen placing first in steeplechase... twice. There were some pretty speedy dogs there who I thought would have kicked our butt. And not knocking a bar all day is huge for us. I wish I knew what I'd done differently at this trial so I could do it again next time.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's winter. Let's train some tricks.

Foot stall - > beg. 
The beg during a foot stall was a tricky one. Cohen had trouble trusting her footing, and I don't blame her since my feet are wobbly and not exactly secure.

Hug the bunny. 
This is an older trick but I wanted a new photo of it.  Eventually I'd like to have her hug it while walking around on 2 feet, but that'll be a while in coming.

Burrito! Aka, wrap yourself up in a blanket. This was for a trick training challenge and is pretty cute.

Dog packing. Pretty simple. Put a bed in a suitcase. It took Cohen a few minutes to figure out she should push her way in instead of standing on top of it.

Position changes - bow from a down. Cohen already had a bow, and already had a crawl backwards, so we just worked on capturing the initial butt-up movement and re-taught the cue "bow".  She's pretty fluid with it now.

It's too dang cold and dark outside. Winter is a time for trick training.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday, July 15, 2013


We had the gardopolypse in our backyard this weekend. Gardenageddon? Whatever. New house with wild garden means entire garden needs ripped out, as it is more weeds than actual garden. Cohen has recently discovered her love of digging. She found a small hole and decided to make it bigger. Much, much bigger. She was at it for at least an hour and was understandably filthy by the end of it. 

Tongue is caked with filth and dangling hilariously. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What we've been up to recently: in photos

A moment of crazed, filthy Aussie 
Spring is on its way, and with that, about 8 inches of mud over everything.

I'm starting to remember what it's like to see the sun. 

She misjudged this jump and crashed down on an unseen branch. We need to get back into agility.

A quiet moment at our recent flyball tournament. She's coming along well but is still having issues passing into other dogs. 

Cohen's new trick: hug.

For maximum adorability. The end goal is her walking around on two feet while cuddling the toy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Use it or lose it

You know the phrase "use it or lose it"? I think I've lost it.

It's been over almost 10 months that I last took an agility class with Cohen. I stopped when my instructor took the summer off at my facility to focus on his own during its busiest months. Then, when he returned I was in pre-wedding countdown where I didn't feel like I had enough time to dedicate to a set schedule for classes. Then, after the wedding I returned for one class, felt like I was tripping over my feet, was disheartened by the feedback I was receiving from my instructor, got frustrated and haven't returned. I keep telling myself that the facility was too small (we only have enough room for a handful of obstacles out at a time), the flooring too slippery (dogs slip on it regularly, so building up speed is an issue), too smelly (it doubles as a daycare/doggy bathroom during the day) and too out of date (the equipment is old, and the training is of about the same era). Since stopping I've been to a handful of trials, but did not perform particularly well at any of them.

It's been several months since I last took an obedience class with Cohen. I had pegged this winter as time to polish up on Cohen's obedience and to prep both her and myself to begin competing in Open. I took 4 classes with a well respected trainer, took a break over Christmas, ran into her at a Rally trial I was attending where she said an offhandedly insulting remark to me about my performance with Cohen, and I haven't been back since. I was disheartened, but I do intend to go back... eventually. I'm having trouble motivating myself to re-attend.

I was supposed to go to flyball practice this weekend, but due to crappy weather, the 3 hour round trip involved and feeling obliged to spend time with my husband I didn't go. I spent the day feeling like I was crawling out of my skin. Walking the dog wasn't much of a reprieve, as the trails were icy and the dog was stir crazy.

Cohen is a good dog, but she's high energy and petulant, and when I get frustrated with her it only encourages her to blow me off more. I've seen a bit of a regression in her behaviour lately where she's diving for food on sidewalks, she's not calling away from other dogs, preferring instead to bark at them, and she's pulling like a freight train on walks. She's gotten lazy while performing tricks and I feel like I can see her merely going through the motions to earn a reward and getting frustrated and giving up when I attempt to hold off on reinforcement for mediocre performances. And I can see how this is entirely my fault.

I've taken her learned behaviours for granted and not maintained them. I've not had the motivation and structure classes would provide to continue to grow her skills (and mine!) and as a result we've both gotten lackadaisical and settled for "good enough". It's a slippery slope.

I feel like I'm losing so much of what Cohen and I worked so hard for. And I don't foresee it getting any easier any time soon.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Flyball again!

We did another day of flyball this weekend and I'm so pleased with her performance. She was running 4.37s in start, and her box turn is still a total mess and really wide. I think once we get her turning more tightly she can probably knock a .1-.2 of a second off her time. She just loves the game too. 

Her team went undefeated all weekend to boot! Not half bad!
Good dog 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

\\photodump of dogs

I was playing around with my new digital SLR camera, and these photos are the result. Here's a photo dump!