We woke up early this morning to a sprinkling of snow, hopefully, the last of the season! I had a lazy start, caught up on some Absolute Dogs training videos and we ate breakfast late. One of the things I love about ditching the routine is the dogs relaxed with me. There was no nagging or begging for a meal, no whining or barking for attention. Even on the days I work I try to make “breakfast” unpredictable. The amount of food varies, as does how they earn it, and when they eat. One day it might be a frozen Kong as soon as I wake up, the next we might play games instead. Today we broke the mold by having a little bit of plain kibble in a bowl with their probiotic.
After breakfast I did some chores before breaking out the Dremel for nail trims. This is something I normally do in the late afternoons or evenings but I wanted to get it done early. Nails may be one of the most underrated things we can do for our dogs. When they are overgrown they can cause pain just walking. Most dogs are never conditioned to having them trimmed or filed which means it can be a fearful experience when they are done. My dogs have been conditioned to the Dremel (much easier than the nail clippers I used to use!) and we practice calmness while they are each taking their own turn. It also helps that we have yummy treats that only come out during nails. If you are interested in conditioning your own dogs I recommend joining the Nail Maintenance group on Facebook. And if you are not, consider it, you’ll save a lot of money during the life of your dog and they will be happier for it.
Chores and grooming out of the way we ditched the routine some more by going back to our roots for some trick training. I’ve been training tricks longer then we’ve been doing games based training, but I feel like it’s taken the back burner in a lot of ways the last year or so. We had fun practicing cross paws, handstands, and moonwalk (a real favorite with all the dogs). Luna mastered fetching the mail and I finally got around to videoing Stark for his Expert trick title with Do More With Your Dog. One more goal to tick off a list that seems endless. This left the dogs tuckered out, working the brain does that, and they napped while I did some more work.
In the afternoon Luna and I hit the road in our own neighborhood for some one on one time. It was eerily desolate as everyone was locked away in their houses. This was both nice since there were little distractions but can also be a bit of a difficult situation for her. Traditionally, one of Luna’s biggest triggers has been from sudden “intruders” in an environment where we had been alone. It was a bit crazy how quiet everything was, no one doing yard work or kids playing in their own yards, just her and I.
I prefer going out and about in different locations, but since I wanted to take Luna out for some tracking games I decided to use our local church’s parking lot. It’s only a few blocks away and I mixed up the “boring” route with some more tricks. We played perch (two paws on) and on (all four) on random objects like rocks, fencing, and hydrants. As we neared the church there were a pair of kids playing with a remote control car which perked her interest, but thanks to some Sexier than a Squirrel games it was no match for mom!
The empty parking lot was perfect for some warm-up games, such as our favorite, Orientation. I surprised her with a tracking article and she surprised me by indicating right away. Its been far too long since we’ve done any tracking, but she seemed to remember how to play the games better than I did. After four or five reps we simply ran and played. I love watching this girl light up when she is engaged with me. Both tired, we headed for home.
It was still quiet and the walk remained uneventful until we were about to turn down our street. That’s when I heard a panicked voice calling their own dog behind me. I turned to find an off-leash dog charging towards us, hackles raised. Remember, Luna was a dog that previously turned into a barking mess at the appearance of any dog, let alone an angry one. Luckily we were near an empty flatbed trailer, and double that luck that she was used to me asking her to jump up onto random things. I had her hop up on it to use it as a boundary, just another game in her eyes. I turned to face the dog at the same moment a teenager arrived at its side and led it away apologizing profusely. Luna took it all in stride, the flatbed was just another object for her to jump on, mom gave her some treats and we continued on her way. It was uneventful, as all novelty (good or bad) should be.
So that was our day, it wasn’t an adventure or exciting but it was packed full of real-life, games based training. Full of the things we love to do but don’t always make time for. Now, more than ever, we need to make time for the things we love.
Owner, Head Trainer