Archive for February 2011

Learn along with Wally & Lu – Week 5

This week, both dogs did awesome in class!

Wally is finally understanding what going to class is all about. His focus has been steadily improving with each class.  This week, he did have his moments when he and the lovely amber-coated pittie girl that was next to us couldn’t keep their eyes off each other, but hey, he’s a ladies man, and she sure is pretty!


With Wally, we continued working on loose leash walking, using the same methods as last week.  We also began teaching the “Heel” position.

One thing to remember about heel, is that it is simply a position.  It is not a requirement while walking on the leash.  You can call your dog to a heel in motion or a heel while standing still.  You may need to call your dog to the heel position if another dog or person is passing you, or you see a distraction you need to avoid.

The proper heel position is for the dog to be at your left side, facing the same direction as you are, with his ear aligned with the seam of your pants.

We learned two ways to teach heel:

“Heel” – Using a Lure

From a standing position, with your dog in front of you, hold a treat in front of your dogs nose.  With your arm, make a sweeping counter-clockwise circle and come in toward your leg.  Your dog should move toward the treat, then turn around to face the same direction you are.  After he is anticipating the position, and no longer simply following the lure, you can add your verbal cue.

“Heel in Motion” – Choosing to Heel

Put your dog on a long line (we use a 15′ line).   Take a handful of treats in your left hand.  Walk.  Do not call or lure your dog.  Every time he finds himself next to your left leg, click/mark and drop a treat.  After a while, you will find that your dog CHOOSES to stay near your side, in anticipation of receiving a reward for doing so.

We also worked on increasing our duration of “Stay”, added in distance. Then we started to lay the foundation for “Stay” with the handler out of view.

“Stay” – Adding Distance

Reminder: Before you add distance to your “stay” command, you want to be sure your dog has a clear understanding of the command with you standing directly in front of him and not moving.

To add distance, give your stay command, then take one step back and IMMEDIATELY step forward again click/mark, treat and use your release cue to let the dog know it’s ok to move. (We say “All done!”) After several tries, start taking two steps back, then three, etc.

“Stay” – Handler Out of View

To create a rock solid stay, it’s important that your dog understands that they can not move, no matter how far away you go, or whether they can see you or not. To lay the foundation for this skill, you simply start by giving the stay command, turning your back, then turning around and click/mark, treat. You can add distance and duration once the dog has a firm grasp on both distance and duration stays.

What Wally taught me this week:

If you wear a shirt that says “LoverBoy” on it,

you’d better expect that the hot chicks will take notice!


Lu was IN THE ZONE this week! I couldn’t have been more proud of her. She didn’t do everything perfectly, but her focus and attention was AMAZING. She did pause to clean the floor a couple of times (I should know better than to drop crumbs.. lol) but she never once tried to stray from me, even when the puppies from the next class came into the center – and she LOVES puppies!!

In class, we reviewed “Drop on Recall” (see previous post), which Lu seems to be having trouble with. She gets the recall part, she gets the down part, but she doesn’t get the STOP part. She sees my hand go up, but continues to come to me and drops right at my feet. We need to go back to square one on this one. She’s definitely confused.

We also worked on “Wait in Motion“, which Lu has already had quite a bit of experience with. I use wait ALLLL the time.

“Wait in Motion”
Note: Your dog should already know the “wait” command before starting this exercise.

To teach your dog to wait while you’re already in motion, ask your dog for a heel. Take two steps forward, then put your hand in front of their face and say “wait”. Your dog should stop in its tracks. Give your release command (we say “ok, let’s go”) and take two more steps, again give your “wait” command. Repeat, adding additional steps as your dog’s understanding increases.

“Wait in Motion” – Adding Distance

Once your dog is consistently stopping when you ask for a “wait”, you can work on “wait” in motion, with distance. Continue as above, but this time, when you ask for a “wait,” take two steps PAST your dog. They should stay in position. Call them to a heel and take two more steps, again ask for a “wait” and take two steps past your dog. Repeat, adding a longer distance between you and your dog after you give the “wait” command.

We always try to practice “stay” under distraction at the end of class, since the class after us is the puppy class! Squee! Lu loves puppies, so this is a really great distraction for her. She did SOOOO well this week. She did turn to glance at the puppies, but never once did she attempt to break her stay.

What Lu taught me this week:

Don’t dwell on what went wrong.  Instead, focus

on what to do next.  Spend your energies on moving

forward toward finding the answer.

Wall-eyed Wednesday – Lazy Tongue

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Lu’s Day – Self Portrait

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading BZTraining’s Blog and read about a site called The Daily Shoot.  They provide you with a basic premise for a photo-of-the-day to inspire you to practice photography.  I’m in love with this site!  It has given me a reason to pick up my camera EVERY day and experiment with exposure, shutter speeds, framing, etc.

So yesterday, I logged onto the site to see what the assignment was…. “Who are you?”  We were to make a self-portrait…  Oh great.  Here I was, sick as can be, hair a mess, with no plan to get out of my pajamas, and of course the assignment would be to make a self-portrait!

I knew there was no way I was taking a full shot of my pathetic self.  I also knew that any photo that shows who I am would have to have Lu in it.  So I grabbed my camera and cuddled up for a shot or two.. ok, ok.. it was more like 40 or 50 before I got one that had the right areas in focus (for the most part) and captured what I wanted to say.

The photo I picked to use is this one:

If you want to see some more of the photos I’ve taken for The Daily Shoot, you can visit my Daily Shoot Set on Flickr.  If you use Flickr, feel free to add me as a contact! :)

On a quest to improve my photography skills

I recently purchased a new Canon Rebel XS DSLR camera.  I’ve never had a really clear understanding of how the aperture, shutter and ISO settings worked in manual mode.  So, being the obsessive-compulsive geek that I am, I have been reading everything I can about how to take good photos using a DSLR camera.

When I googled “how to photograph your dog” I came across an article on Dogster, written by Maria Goodavage entitled How to Photograph Your Dog:  Mood-Altering Camera Angles.  It looked like fun, so I decided to try her suggestions and see what I came up with!

1) Shoot Down.

“This picture makes you feel that your pooch really is man’s best friend.”

Easy.  Wally is awesome at this pose.  He just looks so sweet, staring up at me with those big, googly eyes.  :)

Lu, on the other hand, does NOT like the camera hovering over her. It was very difficult to get a shot of her in this pose.   She would either avert her eyes, or back up so I wasn’t standing over her.

2) Shoot up.

“Who’s the master now?! That’s the feeling you get from this shot.”

This was tough… apparently both of my dogs are afraid of heights and did not appreciate me putting them on my patio table!  I was able to get one shot of Lu before she decided she wanted nothing to do with this.


Wally would not sit still on the table, so I took a photo of him inside, atop the radiator in front of the kitchen window.  I think this shot of the Wogfather was worthy of black and white.  He looks so statuesque!  :)


3) Shoot at Eye Level.

“Whether your dog always has a dog-smile on his face or tends to be more poised, taking their picture from eye level captures their real, honest expression.”

I absolutely adore Lu’s eyes.  Photos don’t do them justice.  They’re like orbs of amber glass.

I’m not sure I want to know what her real, honest feelings were about me taking these photos though.  She looks a little… cranky.

A couple of  inside shots:

And Wally.. Well, Wally’s eyes just slay me. He can get away with anything if he gives me that sweet, silly stare of his.

3) Tilt It.

“We typically look at the world straight on, so a little bit of tilt can really add some jazz.”

Not sure I like this angle thing… Kinda looks like she’s about to slide off the deck of the Titanic!  LOL

Getting Wally to stay in a down position as I backed up was nearly impossible. (He doesn’t know “stay” yet!)  But I did manage to get a cute shot!   This must be his paparazzi pose… “I said ‘No more pictures!'” :)


Practice makes perfect, right?

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