Friday, December 7, 2012

Don we now our gay apparel!

My friend Jen made Cohen and Megatron awesome Christmas scarves. Her only modest request was a couple of photos of the dogs "enjoying" their gifts.  Pfft! Easy!

I'll have to try and get more when we actually get some snow.  I feel like we're the only place in the world which has had next to zero snow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More agility action shots

Go dog go!

Not even sure what's going on with her face here. Wind resistance? Demons? 

I think this was after Cohen completely forgot what a table was, and had to be reminded... repeatedly.

Here you can get a good view of her noise hole. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Now you are three!

Cohen's third birthday is coming up in a few weeks, so I decided to take a few stacked photos of her. Unfortunately, I have a history of taking very poor stacked photos. However, you get the point.

I think she's done filling out. If anyone knows much about canine structure I'd love to hear your thoughts.

3 years

3 years... again. 

2 years

1 year old, and not so much stacked as horribly posed. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Puppy's first box turn

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a box turn.

Tonight marked the end of our 5 weeks of flyball classes, and we're finally starting to put everything together. As you can see in the video, we still have a ways to go, but quite honestly I'm pretty pleased all things considered. Last week I was worried that I'd poisoned the box: Cohen was confused and stressed out upon the introduction of the ball to the box and became a barky, anxious mess. Her barky anxiety continued to the start of today's class until something clicked.

I know it's a bit slow, and very wide, but... yeah. First day and all that. Also, Cohen had a bout of explosive pooping shortly before this video was taken (... uhghh) so she wasn't feeling her best. I see some speedy fun in our future.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cohen ADC!

In summary:

3 runs. 1 Q, and a title: Agility Dog of Canada, or ADC.

I'm putting up this boring photo because it's the best I can do right now. Both Cohen and I are tired. 
In detail:


1st run: Starters Standard: NQ
Judge: Kathie Grant

This run was meant to be that final Q we needed to move on to advanced. Unfortunately I over-rotated my shoulders and paused too long at a hard right turn and ended up sending Cohen onto an off-course jump 5 obstacles in. She also popped out of the weaves twice at the 10th pole, which was a pain in the ass. Any time I move away from the weaves, or celebrate a pole too early, or reach for my bait pouch (not worn in the ring) she'll pop out just a smidge too early. Dumb, perceptive dog.

2nd run: Advanced Jumpers: NQ
Judge: Kathie Grant

This run was... messy. I think we racked up 15 faults throughout. Five faults for an off-course jump Cohen decided to take, and ten for two knocked bars. Cohen hasn't knocked bars in a while. I think I was pushing what I can do via handling a bit too far, and ended up shooting myself in my foot. ... But that's how you get better, right? :)

3rd run: Starters Standard: Q, and a title!
Judge: Kathie Grant

This run went smoothly, relatively speaking. The only hiccups were a funky angle of entry on the (6) weaves which resulted in Cohen spinning once, and some confusion on Cohen's behalf while going up the ramp of the walk. I think she thought it was a teeter - whatever it was, she looked like she was about to lose her balance. But she didn't. And she Qd. Good, agile dog.

That means that I can now compete in advanced standard courses, as well as advanced jumpers. I need 1  Q in Gamblers and 2 in Snooker to move up from starter level in those. It's tough to keep track -- that's why I write this stuff down.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I'm not dead - I'm just busy.

I FINALLY had my first flyball class last night. It was hugely fun - more fun than I thought it'd be.

I was worried that perhaps we'd focus a bit too much on the basics (tug, etc) and not the actual sport. Obviously the basics are important, but they're not sexy.

We started the "hit it" game, where we have the dog target a wall as high up as they can reach, then push off in the direction they naturally turn for their reward. We started teaching the dogs to circle a pylon, and rewarding heavily for digging in and pushing their way around the last half of the turn. Then we added a jump to the pylon behaviour, then two, then more distance between the jumps and the pylon. Then we did some restrained recalls over 4 10" jumps.

Cohen did really well in all the exercises. Obviously they're not rocket science, but she maintained enthusiasm and speed despite the warehouse where we were practicing being stiflingly hot. She single-strides the jumps with ease, and seemed very happy by the end of it. Also, she's a barker, so I was told she'd fit right in with the rest of the crazy flyball dogs.

I wasn't going to sign up for the class since I'd promised my fiance that I'd only do dog stuff two nights a week (Monday I teach, Tuesday is agility) but he was sweet and encouraged me to take the class since he knows how long it's been since I've been waiting for the class to go ahead, and how badly I've wanted to take it. He's great.


ALSO Cohen earned her advanced rally title a few weeks ago, plus a leg towards her excellent rally title. It was a long day, and our second run was far from pretty, but we made it.

With the heeling/motivation issues I'm seeing in obedience sports, I'll probably finish up the RE title then take a break 'til next year as far as competition goes. We'll practice maintaining proper position and enthusiasm over the winter and see where we end up next year. I'd like to take her up at least as far as Utility (in Comp Obedience) but we'll see if it's in the cards.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Trial summary: getting better

In summary: 

This weekend marked one of the most successful runs we've had, Q-wise, in agility. We ran 3 times, qualified 2 times, and came damn close the other time. Maybe it was the weather, or maybe it was the nice, loopy course designs - I don't know. But I'm hoping to see more of it as we go on. 

We tend to hover around a 1/3 or 1/4 success rate. 

A shot from the trial photographer from last weekend. Cohen gets this dumb-but-happy look on her face while running. I love it!

In detail:

First run:

Starters Standard. Q.
Judge: Shannon Teahen-Nash

We left late for the trial, so we were in a rush to get there. I was sure that we were going to miss our first run, and if we didn't, Cohen would blow it anyways with her traditional first run zoomies. We got there on time, and I did my best to keep Cohen focused on me, but quiet. It seemed to work. She may not have run her fastest, but she ran cleanly, with no mishaps on the teether, table, or with knocked bars.

The issue we keep running into these past few weeks is Cohen popping out of the weaves too early. We had to redo them 2-3 times this run. (Luckily it doesn't count as a fault at this level.) I hope to work on them heavily in class over the next few weeks.

Second run:

Starters Standard. NQ.
Judge: Shannon Teahen-Nash

This run was similar to our first - relatively smooth and clean with no knocked bars. The issue was that Cohen screwed up her weaves again (what happened to my wonderful weaving dog??) and she simple would. not. lay. down on the table. Other dogs who ran before her opted to sniff instead of doing the obstacle, so I don't feel too badly about it. Eventually she lay down, but her fooling around on that obstacle caused us to go over course time....

... by 0.75 seconds.

Ugh. I was so sure we had that run in the bag, despite our table trouble.

Third run:

Advanced Jumpers. Q.
Judge: Shannon Teahen-Nash

This was the last run of the trial, and we were all tired for it. I decided I would just... kind of run it, and see what happened. I didn't handle it very well, but we got through it cleanly. This was Cohen's first Advanced Jumpers Q! I'm looking forward to more!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Action shot!

She always seems to have this earnest, silly look on her face while running. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Trial summary: obedience and agility weekend!

This weekend was a big one. Saturday was an obedience competition, and Sunday was agility.

The result: Cohen earned 2 qualifying scores in Novice A Obedience, but only needed one for her novice title. She's now Cohen CD RN...blahblahblah! She also earned 1 qualifying run in Starters Gamblers in Agility!

The collection is growing!

In detail:

First run:

Novice A. Q.
Judge: Peter Stewart
Third place.

This was a tough run. I was nervous, and it showed in Cohen's and my performances. It went bad when I tried to do an about-turn to my left (instead of right) and went downhill from there. Cohen was lagging horribly the whole time, and needed multiple cues to continue heeling after a halt. Not good. We scored 178.5/200, and I think the judge was being generous. Regardless, we got our Q.

I was originally planning on going up to Open (the next level up) upon getting my Q on the first run, but I opted not to due to Cohen's clear unenthusiastic showing, and I was worried about further poisoning the sport for her. So I decided to do one more bonus novice run to see if I could get her "up" a bit more.

Second run:
Novice A. Q. 
Judge: Del Lunn
First place.

I've been told the fourth leg is always the easiest one. 

I was much less nervous for this trial, and I think it showed. We ended up scoring 190/200, and Cohen's heeling was much better. I'm not sure what it was, but half way through our "heel free" exercise she just clicked on, and was focused and with me the entire time. I'd like to get out to a few obedience fun matches to try and quell my nerves and hers, and get her more used to being focused while in a ring. 

First run:
Advanced Jumpers. NQ. 
Judge: Wendy Beard

The first run of the day seems like it should just be considered a write-off. The first obstacle was a tire-jump, and upon being released, Cohen decided to duck under it. Whelp, there went that run. I decided just to push through the course, but I was clearly flustered, and Cohen was feeling petulant and zoomie, so we got a few off courses and some terrible handling on my part. Blech. 

Second run:
Starters Standard. NQ. 
Judge: Wendy Beard

I thought we might actually cue here, but it was handler error that threw this one. Cohen had some trouble with the weaves, which is really unusual for her - she kept popping out at the 10th pole. I'll need to practice more with a full set of 12. Her contacts were good, which I was very pleased with. The stupidity came near the end when I lost track of where I wanted to rear cross, and I did it a jump too early, which pulled Cohen off the jump ahead of her, resulting in a refusal call. 

Third run:
Starters Gamblers. Q. 
Judge: Wendy Beard

I'm beginning to see how green Cohen and I are. I planned our route, but it didn't work out quite as planned. Then Cohen knocked the 4-point jump. But she got her mini-gamble, as well as the actual gamble. She forged ahead and away from me like a pro. This is our second time running this game, and our first Q in it. This time I was extra sure to stay far far back from the gamble line, since last time I stepped on it and ended up NQing us despite a great performance by the dog. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Trial summary: agility!

In brief:

AAC, Daytripper Dog Training, Port Perry, ON
4 runs total.
Qualified: 1 Starters Jumpers.
Did not qualify: 1 Starters Standards, 1 Starters Snooker and 1 Steeplechase. 
Judge: Sue Miller

In detail:


Today I was out at an Agility competition. We did a standard run, a snooker game, a steeplechase and a jumpers run. We only qualified once - in jumpers. We're apparently really good at maintaining our 25% Q rate. 

The standard course was a starters level. Cohen was pretty high strung, and decided to make her own course up as she went along. I'm not used to her being so excited that she loses focus on me. Quite honestly, I like her enthusiasm, and once she gets a bit more accustomed to the trial atmosphere I think it'll be a huge boon. 

The snooker course was another starters level. It was the first time we played this game. It's played like snooker - you have to "sink" 3 red jumps with a coloured obstacle in between each one. Then you have to complete the closing by "sinking" obstacles 2-7 in order. Cohen was doing really well - she was speedy and I was able to call her off some pretty enticing off-course obstacles. And then I attempted a messy landing-side front cross, which caused her to knock a bar in her closing and we were whistled off. It was a shame, since we did amazingly well up to that point. 

The steeplechase is sort of a masters level game. The courses are long and flowy, and you need to complete it incredibly quickly. Cohen missed her weaves, of all things, so I decided to say "to fuck with it" and we just ran the rest of the course for fun. A couple faults, but it was a good experience. 

The jumpers run was another starters level. We've completed 2 starters jumpers previously (that's all you need to move up to the next level) but it was under the same judge, so we had to do it again. Cohen did well despite a really messy front cross that had her practically run into me. (I should know she's too fast to plan to get ahead of in a long line of jumps!) So now we get to move up to the next level of competition in this game. 

Each competition comes with its own host of interesting issues. Like, I was expecting Cohen to pop off the table, and to kamikaze off the teeter - neither of which she did. I did not expect her to blow me off and run off course, or miss her weaves. Live and learn!

I'll be out again as much as I can be this summer.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Another weekend, another competition

This weekend was Rally weekend. I entered Cohen into two Advanced A runs. Again we qualified each time. Again we came first in our class each time. I sure hope this doesn't go to my head.

Again her heeling was sloppy around distractions (or when tired). So I ordered Silvia Trkman's heeling DVD. I'm going to be paying very close attention to its lessons in the upcoming weeks. My biggest issue with Cohen's heeling is that I didn't train a default focus for the first few steps - Cohen's head will fall as she takes her first steps, and sometimes she never offers it back up. I've wanted to polish it up for a while now, but haven't wanted to since I was worried I'd have to train it from the ground up, all over again. Now, well, to hell with it - it needs retraining.

I dream of the snappy, head up, intense heeling I see some trainers achieve. As time passes Cohen gets sloppier and sloppier - my criteria haven't been consistent I suppose. It's good enough for most people, but unfortunately I'm a bit of a perfectionist.

Next weekend is agility.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Obedience Trial the first - the results

I'm beginning the entire point of competition is to take amusing photos of your dog afterwards. 
So judging by my last entry, it's been almost a month since I last updated this blog. Whoops! The house has been sold, and I've been moving into the new apartment. Time flies. 

Since then, Cohen and I had our first obedience competition - last weekend, on April 1st. I had convinced myself that we weren't going to qualify. But, whelp, I was wrong. 

We qualified twice. We also came first in our class, twice. We scored 192.5/200, twice. I guess we're consistent. 

I was most worried about Cohen breaking her long sit/down stays, but, well, she did pretty well with those. The glaring issue was the enthusiasm while heeling. We're going to have to work to get her heeling tidier if/when we go on to the next level of competition. But, regardless, it was good enough for a qualification, which was what I was most concerned about last weekend. 

So that's 2 out of 3 legs complete - I hope to finish up the last leg at the beginning of May. And next weekend there's a Rally competition I've signed up for. And the week after that, Agility. 

My weekends are going to be awfully dog-centric over the next month or two. 

I'm not sure why Cohen is laying/standing like this - it was her idea. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

First Obedience Trial: 22 sleeps

I signed Cohen and myself up for our very first competitive obedience trial due to take place April 1st (aka April Fools Day). It felt like an appropriate day to kick off our competition career.

My CD class has given me enough confidence to sign up. I tend to fear failure so much that I never want to even try. Now I fear failure slightly less.

Based on my experiences in class, we don't have much to worry about in each of the specific exercises. The biggest hurdle will be motivation and reinforcement in the ring. Like so many other "reinforcement" trainers I've fallen into the trap of relying too much on food, and at much too high a rate. On our last class we did the competition "for real" and I could see Cohen losing interest as she realized I would not be feeding her at all in the ring. She actually left me once between exercises to go see if Adrian would pay her instead.

It's a tough problem for me to work on since I so easily fall into the mindless reinforcement trap. I barely even notice myself popping kibble into Cohen's mouth any more. I think I'll be able to eek by with passable (good, even) performances for the first little while, but unless I change my approach I'll end up with a ringwise dog.

It's totally like me to start planning for the worst before the game has even started. So I'm going to stop worrying about it for a little while.

Wish us luck!

Monday, February 13, 2012

No, dog, that's not the game we're playing now.

I went to an agility fun match yesterday. It was in a warehouse in the middle of winter, so I was bundled up accordingly.

On our first run I lined Cohen up, cued her focus-forward, and... decided that I should really take off my gloves before the run. Took them off, and threw them to where I'd left her leash. I re-cued the focus-forward, leaned forward and released. I expected Cohen to blast over the jump ahead of her and into a tunnel. Instead she decided that she needed to retrieve my lost gloves to me enthusiastically.

At least I know I'm building a lot of value into a retrieve...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My dog, the bar knocker.

That's something I never thought I'd have to worry about, but now, well, I'm worried.

I went out for a semi-private lesson with Gary White today. To date, I've only ever taken lessons with the comp-agility trainer at my facility. So I've only ever known one way to train my dog. I figured I was in for a wake up call. I was right.

Basically Cohen was knocking bars left and right. Or, well, she was knocking bars at the apex of turns. Gary assures me this is not normal, and needs to be addressed quickly.

The biggest issue stems from Cohen not being accustomed to jumping 22". It sounds ridiculous, but she never jumps competition height except at competitions. If I were smarter I probably would have put two and two together and had her jumping higher in class. It was perfectly normal to have all the "big dogs" jump around 16" and the "small dogs" around 8" - I think partially due to laziness when adjusting bars and partially so we don't put undue stress on the dogs' joints. Gary pointed out that the way a dog handles a course varies tremendously on the height of the jumps (which again, makes sense and I wish I'd figured that out before). I didn't realize bar knocking at that rate was unusual, which I think was the most embarrassing part. It's not unusual for Cohen to knock one bar a night on our home turf. So I'm worried that there's a bigger underlying issue here. Ugh.

I'm really looking forward to continue with Gary on a regular basis. It's a long drive out of the city, but I think it'd be worth it. He seems quiet and kind, and will provide a fresh approach for my dog and me. I was completely overwhelmed at our first session but hope to really settle in as we progress.

Now, does anyone have any recommendations on where to get (or make) a flirt pole?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Cohen with her new BFF, Sgt Pepper. 

My house is dogless. And spotless. 

We're currently trying to sell the house. We've gone all out trying to present the house in the most appealing way possible. We've painted, laid new carpet, rented fancy furniture, cleaned it from top to bottom, and done just about everything you're supposed to do when selling a house. And at the advice of the real estate agent we also got rid of the dogs. Megatron is back with Adrian's family and Cohen was boarded with a friend of mine (and her 2 Goldens and 2 Cavaliers). 

Apparently Megatron immediately reverted to the not-actually-housebroken dog she was prior to coming to live with me. It's frustrating to hear since I'll have to go back to managing her more hardcore once she returns here. Having "accidents" on the new carpets simply will not fly. Hopefully a week of booster puppy house-training methods will set her back on track. 

Cohen is reportedly having a blast. One of the Goldens (Sergeant Pepper) she's living with is a one year old, rambunctious, drivey, field-bred dog out of fabulous working lines. Needless to say, this dog is a handful. I was a bit worried about how he and Cohen might get along since they're both a bit socially retarded. Apparently I didn't have to worry though. During the initial greeting Cohen was intimidated for about 15 seconds, then got over it and started to play. And play. And play. I don't think she's stopped playing since she got there. 

It's given me something to think about: I've always thought that Cohen would be happiest in a single dog household. Her resource guarding can make for a stressful environment. But my friend is telling me that Cohen has fit right in with her pack, and says that my dumb dog seems to genuinely enjoy the constant presence of other dogs. That she has a constant playmate is of course icing on the cake for her. 

Megatron came to live with us because she's Adrian's dog, and Adrian has come to live with us. Megatron does not enjoy the company of other dogs despite being raised in a house with them since she was a puppy. She does not play with them. She seems to simply see them as things that might possibly rob her of her nice warm bed, and growls in response to them simply walking by. Cohen and Megatron need to pretty much ignore each other's presence in order for the household to remain peaceful. 

But perhaps one day I may be able to get another performance dog as a companion for Cohen. I have another friend who's pushing me to look into the Toller litters at Foxgrove Kennels - and she's VERY convincing. Perhaps one day I'll look into getting a sporty little male dog with whom to compete and play. It's just nice to know that I may one day have that opportunity and not worry about what it might mean for Cohen. 

So I'm thrilled to hear how well Cohen is doing, but the house is so empty without her! I miss her daily morning cuddles, and I find it disconcerting to not have a constant shadow that follows me room to room. Though I do admit, I like the quiet. But just for a little while. 

Monday, February 6, 2012


Cohen's most impressive trick is probably her handstand. It's also taking the longest to train. It's far from finished, but it's getting there. 

It's been a long process. I think I poisoned it to a degree a while ago: when I asked for a handstand she would turn into a barking, unfocused mess. I took a few months off from working on it, and have started it up again. 

Her form still needs a bit of improvement. She's finally developing the requisite chest muscles, and she can push herself up without the help of a wall. I didn't capture it in the video below, but sometimes she's able to windmill herself up into position in a doggy cartwheel. 

So anyways, this is Cohen's handstand. My final goal is for it to become a sustained walking handstand. We're a ways off, but even now it seems to be a bit of a crowd pleaser. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Getting ready for competition

Happy heeling. 
So I've been talking a lot about getting my act together and getting myself and Cohen out to some competitions. Agility, rally, comp OB. Whichever. I don't care. I just want to gain a bit of structure in my training while I get out and have some fun with my dog.

Training for competition gives me some focus. Otherwise I get scatterbrained when I train, and lose sight of my priorities. One of my biggest priorities this year is to refine Cohen's heeling. She's great when I'm actively engaging her, but her attention will wane if she's around distractions (like microscopic food particles on the floor) and her head will drop and she'll begin lagging while she searches for a snack.

So I've enrolled in a competitive obedience class geared towards training students to get their CD. It's offered by my facility, but doesn't run often. It's a class entirely populated by staff, and taught by the head of the school who has a very sharp eye for obedience. It's wonderful.

Last week, two weeks in, I was told that Cohen and I should be out there earning our CD already -- and that our trainer couldn't think of any pointers for me since I was doing so well. I admit it wasn't a huge surprise. We do pretty dang well at the exercises. Cohen has had the ability to perform the basics since she was a pup. But it's always been me holding myself back. I'm nervous to perform. I want to get out there and not only pass, but pass well. I think Cohen deserves more than just eeking by. Hence why I took this class.

Since it's a staff class we also stay behind afterwards to work on CDX and UD exercises. Cohen and I are doing pretty well on those too. Though I admit I'm probably rushing her a bit too much, and should be breaking the exercises down more. Go outs, directed jumping, dumbbells, out of sight stays...

Anyways, the class has given me the confidence to get out to a competition soon. I'll be signing up for one within the next few weeks.

Cohen has become such a good dog. She's grown out of her puppy crazies, and has developed fantastic focus and enthusiasm while working with me. Now it's up to me to do the best I can for her. She deserves it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First forays into raw feeding

I've been hibernating. The house is in the process of being prepared for sale (packing, painting, storing, staging...), dogs are demanding attention, work is work, and I've been fighting a pretty serious case of the blahs.

I've also been trying out a predominantly raw diet for the dogs. I've heard people extol the virtues of raw feeding: healthy teeth & gums, healthy coat, small poops, no dog-stink, improved energy levels, etc. I want in on the action. I'm intensely curious on how Cohen's condition might improve - she's always been fed high quality kibble (Orijen 6-Fish) and is in pretty dang good shape already. Mega might see more drastic results - she's not exactly in shape, and still smells a little yeasty.

To make matters more complicated, Cohen doesn't do well with chicken. Chicken for dinner normally results in diarrhea the next morning. She seems to have a rather sensitive GI tract. Megatron seems able to eat just about anything without any repercussions. Tinydog's insides are a well oiled machine.

So far I've been switching over pretty lazily. I've been buying premade patties, and supplying the dogs with the occasional bit of whole meat on bone. If I were in a position to jump in headfirst I'd want to source my own meats and provide more whole meals, but for now the patties are going to have to do.

Everything was going well until I gave Cohen a particularly large section of beef neck bones. In the past she's been fine chowing down on a vertebrae and it keeps her occupied for a good hour. I bought some larger sections and tossed one at the dog a few days ago (which she cleaned happily) and the following day Cohen was a mess. She threw up chunks of bone a couple times, had some vicious diarrhea, and was practically comatose until well into the afternoon. She refused a small chunk of raw food, but perked up after I got her to eat some kibble and drink a bit of water. She was feeling pretty sorry for herself. And now of course I'm worried about giving her another neck bone snack.

She's been fine since then, and eats frozen patties happily. We've been doing mostly raw for 2-3 weeks now, and I've yet to see any of those benefits I've been told about. I'll obviously keep up with it for a good few months before I really step back and assess her condition, but I'm a bit worried that I'm going to be experiencing the added effort and cost of the diet without seeing its supposed benefits. Only time will tell!

Does anyone have any stories of the changes they may or may not have seen upon starting their pups on raw? Tips? I would love to hear them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Body language and learning to play

Pictured: A Mexicanine Standoff

Historically, Cohen has not played well with others. 

It's a shocker, I know. My loud, pushy, nervous, insecure, tunnel-visioned herding breed has a hard time interacting healthily with other dogs. A lot of dogs are intimidated by her constant barking while she seems blissfully (or intentionally) ignorant of their discomfort. 

Then something changed. Cohen has learned to play. She will try to initiate a game of chase or biteyface with just about any interested party. She'll toss her butt into another dog's face (an Aussie specialization), roll over on her back then take off at top speed. She'll even tug. 

Disclaimer: I almost never let Cohen tug with other dogs, but these two were getting along well and were very closely monitored. 
These are all skills that she should have learned as a puppy, but I'm thrilled that she's finally figuring them out. She's 2 years old for goodness sake - it's about time. 

Along with the increased confidence in play comes an increased awareness of dog body language in general. As I said, Cohen is rather insecure with other dogs. She's easily intimidated and is prone to the occasional reactive episode if she sees a trigger dog/breed (she takes particular issue with Airedales - go figure). As she approaches a group of new dogs she will exhibit a number of appeasement gestures and calming signals - looking away, lip licking, slow blinking, paw lifting. She'll roll over if she's feeling particularly shy. Once the greeting is over with it's game on. 

I've been impressed by how clearly I think Cohen "speaks dog". She's not perfect, but she's come a long way over the last year or so, and I anticipate continued improvement. I get so much joy watching Cohen run at top speed in long winding paths around me - she has a look of pure joy on her face, and it brings a smile to mine.