Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stuffed Animals Are Scary

My dogs don't get toys with stuffing inside. My mother in law sent us home with stuffed birds a while back. Those lasted all of maybe 3 minutes before the older dog (Cricket) shook the head off both birds and then pulled all the stuffing out. Then for Christmas she sent us home with a few more. Again, the toys didn't last long.

I hoped this wasn't the way things would always be, so I bought my pups a small stuffed dog from Wal-Mart. It cost about $2, so if they tore it to shreds I knew I want going to cry.

I gave it to the dogs when I got home.

Ranger wants nothing to go with it! Cricket nudges it like she does any small animal that isn't moving. I didn't let them have it overnight, though, in case they tore it to shreds and left a mess for me to clean up the next morning or in case they ate any parts of it.

When I gave it back to them the next day it lasted a few hours before Cricket managed to remove the squeaker and some stuffing. Instead of throwing out the entire thing I removed the rest of the stuffing and let the dogs have it. I bought this toy a few days ago, and it took Ranger until late this evening to touch it. When I put them in the back room/office tonight Ranger actually picked it up. I was actually kind of shocked. But I told him he was a good boy because he needs to learn to be a dog and how to play.

Sometimes my dogs surprise me, and usually they just make me shake my head and wonder how I ended up with not one, but two goofballs. I love em though!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Back Into Training

Ranger and I currently face quite the dilemma. We have the chance to enroll in obedience school again while we are still here in Missouri, but we don't know how long we will be here. We could be here another two weeks or two months. (The madness behind this strange situation is to complicated to go into detail about here, so let's just say I have a strong dislike for the US Army's finance department.)

If we start obedience training formally again, we may be wasting money. At the same time, if we don't enroll we may be missing a great opportunity to get Ranger better prepared for the real world. Once we move to New Hampshire he will one in a while be boarded or go to doggy day care. I can't have him going to either acting like an uncivilized cave dog.

This really is a difficult decision. Once everything that needs to happen to make our move possible actually happens, we won't be here for more than another week. Long enough to do any needed vehicle maintenance, pack this into boxes and move the boxes into the go-mobile. So we can spend the money on a month of classes and only attend 2 of the 4, or we just practice what we were shown in class before and attend classes or have private training sessions as soon as we get to New Hampshire.

(I also have a strong dislike for the unknown, and this is full of that kind of headache.)

I wish there was an easy answer to this dilemma other than "stay in Missouri for a month even if you don't have to do you can complete another month of classes." We have family to get home to, and a summer to enjoy before we have to act like real adults. Leaving Missouri as soon as we are able is the only option, due to a crumbling marriage and the fact that my little brother is growing up way to fast and I want to be there before he becomes too cool to hang out with me. Being in Missouri has been like one long deployment without the option to take leave to see my family. I just want to go home.

As a side note, if the world of Harry Potter was real, I would be like Hagrid. Now some one go get me a dragon egg. Ranger needs a friend.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer Warning

Today's post will NOT be about Emergency Recall. Sorry! I have a bad back from my deployment to Iraq in 2008-2009 and some times it flares up and moving at all is extremely painful. I had surgery in 2009 and it was fine for a while but it seems to be getting worse and worse. We didn't do much with Emergency Recall in dog training before we stopped attending classes so I still have to run back and forth with Ranger to show him what I want him to do, and with the way my back feels today that is not possible.

Instead, we'll just talk about a few things. 

There's something I should put out there right now. I am NOT a professional dog trainer. I barely know what I'm doing! For now, all the training Ranger and I do comes from what we learned from Side Kick Dog Training (Springfield, Missouri) and what I have picked up from watching the YouTube videos by a man who trains dogs. (Find him by searching tab289 on YouTube.)

Now that I've said that, you can no longer hold me accountable for anything bad that happens if you try the techniques I talk about here! Just the good things! *insert evil laugh* 

Random picture!

This is important. It's summer, and the weather is getting progressively warmer and here in Missouri it's very humid. Right about this time of year is when people start to forget that their dogs are not immortal, and that they suffer just like people do in the heat. 

Dogs need to hydrate and cool off just like people do. The heat can do some nasty things to dogs, and it can happen a lot faster than it would to a human. Think of your dog(s) as babies. They need YOU to take care of THEM. 

Here are some Do's and Don't of summer with dogs.

Now, what are the warning signs of a heat injury in dogs? This should help give you an idea:


Your vet can give you instructions on how to help your dog. YOUR VET KNOWS BEST!

Remember: just because it's summer and it IS hot out doesn't mean you can't have fun with your dog! Ranger loves when we pack a lunch and a few towels, jump in the truck, and drive to a secluded creek. He plays and explores and swims and has a smile on his face the whole time we're there, and when it's time to leave he pouts. Yes, Ranger has a pouty face!

Below: Ranger having fun spending a few hours playing in his favorite creek!

Remember to use common sense this summer to ensure a great summer season for both you and your four legged buddy! As you can see in the above photo, Ranger is wearing his collar even though we were swimming in a creek no where near traffic. He isn't microchipped yet so if something were to happen at least my phone number, his name, and his rabies tags are on him. (The rabies tag is mostly to ensure I don't get in trouble for having an untagged dog,) It also helps if you have to grab hold of a wet dog. They get slippery! Once in a while a truck or 4-wheeler would drive down the dirt road and I would grab Ranger to make sure he didn't run to say hello and accidentally scare anyone. He's just friendly and wants to explore every one and everything. I also need to use his collar when it's time to leave because he does not want to leave!

Here's to a FUN FILLED and HEALTHY summer!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Clicker Training

As I mentioned in the post before this one, Ranger is 2 years old. In April, 2013 Ranger and I attended dog training classes. That means we got a late start on training. The training methods taught in this obedience school is Clicker Training. Ranger seemed to really respond to the clicker and treats! The only hiccup we had was loose leash walking. Ranger's idea of walking is dragging me around. The trainer put a Gentle Leader on him and after a few minutes of confusion we had almost no issue walking with his leash loose.

We didn't return to class in June. We should have, but we didn't. It was $50 for 4 weeks of training and money was tight. We should have kept practicing what we learned at home but I got lazy and I didn't have money for dog treats.

Yesterday, Ranger and I went out back with the clicker and some cheese and crackers and I decided to video our spontaneous training session. It was more like a refresher than anything, like tests teachers give at the beginning of a term to see what the students remembered from the previous year and to give the teacher a starting point.

Thankfully I have a smart phone that allows me to upload videos to YouTube with little to no hassle. This is a quick video, but it shows the things Ranger remembered. We didn't do any review before I hit the record button so this is all out of the blue for him.

Before I post this video, let me say that normally I don't have to speak the commands "sit" or "down" but I did here in this video for two reasons: 1) so Ranger knew exactly what I wanted from him, and 2) so anyone watching this video knows exactly what I am asking of him. Also, at first I do repeat myself, but one thing we learned in our one month intro to obedience training was not to repeat a command. Say it once and wait. (That is the hardest part for me, not gonna lie.)

He remembered! I was very proud of him after this quick less-than-a-minute long review. My husband thinks Ranger is a hopeless case but when he does things like this, I know I am totally right for believing in this dog. A few hours later, after watching cute puppies doing awesome tricks on YouTube, I told Ranger to fetch me a drink from the fridge.

He totally impressed me. I haven't taught him to fetch drinks, but he knew I wanted him to do something, so he went through literally everything he knows trying to figure it out. First he brought me an old sock the dogs play with. Then he went and found the cat. Then he found a tennis ball. Then he went over to the other dog and put his paw on her and looked at me like he was asking "is this what you want?" I was really happy to see that he is willing to do things, even if he has no idea what it is he is supposed to do.

Other than tricks like getting drinks, and other than basic commands like sit, down, stay, and loose leash walking there are plenty of other things we are working on.

Among those many things is learning how to behave around New people, and letting them handle him. He has always been great at the vet, other than dragging me inside to see the vet (he knows the vet as "let's go see friends.") The only problem is when the vet looks at his paws, and when I try to clip his nails. If I could have gotten a video of the last time I tried to cut his nails, you would probably laugh and shake your head. I had to lay on top of him to keep him from getting away. How did I fix this problem? I started taking him to a groomer.

Ranger definitely recognizes the groomer after only being brought there 3 times. He doesn't know who the groomer is... no, he knows the building. As soon as he sees it from the road he gets excited. Then we get inside and his whole outlook changes. I can tell he is thinking "I regret this decision."

Today was the 4th time he has had a stranger cut his nails, and we went to a new place since the place we normally go was closed. He did GREAT! It was a new place, new person, and there were new smells, but he stood still and he didn't try to pull his paws away.

He really is a smart dog, and to be honest I think he is a lot smarter than I give him credit for. With the right training I think he will surprise everyone that knows him. For now, Ranger and I will train on our own, but once we move to New Hampshire we are going to enroll in obedience training again.

Since we technically trained today (visiting the groomer) I will wait until tomorrow to see if he remembers Emergency Recall.

Coming Up Next: Emergency Recall ("Post!")

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Let me Introduce... Ranger!

Ranger is a border collie mix, and he's just over 2 years old. In May 2011 I decided I needed a second dog. I was living with my husband and we had adopted a black lab mix from the vet on Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri a year before. She needed a friend, so I set out to find something on CraigsList. I don't buy dogs from pet stores, and at the time I wanted a dog, a mutt, and you can't get mutts from breeders.

I found an ad for dogs of all ages that were scheduled to be put down by the following week if they weren't adopted. 

Long story short, it was a puppy mill. He supposedly came with all his shots, vet records, etc. That was a lie. The next day he cost me about $400 at the vet to rid him of all the internal and external parasites he had, his conjunctivitis, all his shots, and lab tests. But you know what? He has turned into the greatest darn dog I ever could have asked for so every dollar was well spent. 

When we first got Ranger he weighed 5 pounds and was smaller than a bottle of water. The vet guessed he was only about 5 weeks old. This is the first day we had him, when he was tiny an adorable and tick infested. (Kind of takes away from the cuteness but lucky me I had no idea until we got to the vet the next afternoon.)

A couple weeks later, he was finally bigger than a water bottle! He weighed 6lbs 3oz! And he was so fluffy I almost died of cuteness overload every time I looked at him. 

Here'a his first bath!

When he was 11 weeks old, he was getting big, and he was getting big fast. We were told he would be about 35lbs full grown. Boy did they lie to me! 

Ever since we got him he has loved car rides. I'm not sure why since I got him out of a van, which he had obviously been living in with at least 15 other dogs. 

So my "35lbs full grown" dog got bigger. A lot bigger. 

The above picture was taken just a couple weeks ago. He's 70 pounds. Yes, TWICE what we were told he would be full grown. And the scary part? He's thin. He needs to gain at least 10 pounds. 

He's a good dog, though. I wouldn't trade him for the world. 

Enough about Ranger growing into his paws. Let's get to the good stuff. What does he like? What IS he like? He likes everything. Especially toys, butt scratches, and cuddling. And food. He loves food. He's 2 but he has the personality of a 6 month old puppy. He loves car rides. If you pick up a set of car keys he goes nuts. He likes peeing on stuff (outside thankfully!) And walks. Because he can pee on new stuff when we go for walks. 

He doesn't like when people get loud. It scares him. He doesn't like thunderstorms. He can feel them coming and it upsets him. He doesn't like popcorn or pretzels. 

I love this dog. He's my little buddy. He's my sidekick. He's also my dumb bum. 

I'm going to use this blog to document our adventures together. Ranger is a friendly dog so I can take him to new places and not worry too much. The only thing I worry about is him barking to say hello, and other people letting their dog get close to him when he doesn't want them to get close. He's afraid of new dogs and I don't want him to hurt anyone or get hurt because he feels cornered. 

We have a lot to do, a lot to learn, but that's all part of the adventure. We only recently started obedience training (I'll document our progress here!) and socialization so I know with time and training and consistency he'll become the dog I know he can be! 

Coming up Next : Clicker Training