Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dexis Maximus - His "Not Show Quality" Story

Dexis Maximus is his registered name, he is better known as Dexter. A purebred AKC registered Papillon with champions in his pedigree -- NEUTERED

I purchased Dexter from a breeder, she was not a show breeder, but she had healthy dogs with good pedigrees. His parent's were never shown, but the "show" blood was there. As Dexter grew I watched closely hoping that he'd be the show dog I wanted. As he got older little things started to come up that suggested otherwise. He was less than half an inch over the fault height, the stop of his muzzle was not as pronounced as it should, his muzzle was bit too long, his markings were not symmetrical, he didn't have the preferred white blaze on his face, and probably his worse fault is that his front feet pointed slightly outwards sometimes. I'm no Papillon expert but I learned this simply by reading the AKC standard. I've been told MANY times by people to show him, but if people read the standard they'd know better. These little things matter in the show ring.

At one and a half years old Dexter was fixed and his possible show career was forever ended. Although Dexter was 100% healthy and had his joints tested by a vet, I NEVER even thought that he should have sired a pointless litter of puppies. I don't regret that decision. Dexter's behavior also greatly improved. He no longer marked and he no longer mounted other dogs. He was able to enjoy the dog park again.

Since then Dexter has been attending formal Agility classes and being trained at home for obedience trials. He starts agility competitions in October and formal Obedience in November. He has also gotten his CGC certification and I plan to get his therapy certification. Flyball is also a possibly once we get word back from the teams we contacted. His life is rich and full of things to keep him working and busy.

I'm so tired of people breeding these pointless litters by parents that are not health checked or DNA tested. I've seen someone claim their dog to be a perfect example of the breed when the dog had a curled tail when the standard clearly states that they should have a sickle tail. Not to mentioned this dog had already been bred twice and the owner failed to know about this obvious fualt or get the dog health checked.

My point of all this ramble is this: You don't have to breed your dog. You don't need a perfect show dog. Your dog entered your life for a specific reason. Enjoy your dog for who it is, don't try to make them into something you /should/ know they are not. Enjoy your dog now. Join some dog sports and clubs. There are so many things out there to try. Flyball, obedience, tracking, dock diving, weight pulling, and agility are some examples.

Don't bring anymore dogs intro this already overpopulated world. People, just love your dogs.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Intro to Agility - June 16th

Dexter's second to last Agility class was today, as usual he did very well. He never ceases to amaze me. It makes me wonder if Dexter is just a very easy dog work with or that I am actually a decent trainer. I guess we'll see when I get my next dog!

Back to today... in class we worked on front and rear crosses which I actually introduced to Dexter before. He has no problem with the front crosses and understood how to react when I crossed in front of him. He had more trouble with the rear cross because he couldn't see me the whole time, but he eventually got it. We also worked on more small sequences of obstacles using the front and rear crosses. The teeter was also raised up two notches today. He didn't seem to mind the extra height at all. That's my boy! Another new thing we did today was something called "pin wheels". It is where you set up four hurdles in a X shape and the handler stands in the middle sending the dog around in a circle over the hurdles. Dexter absolutely LOVED them. Haha. He thoroughly enjoyed being praised and literally applauded at just for jumping and running really fast, which are things he does naturally. It just cracks me up to see what Dexter gets a kick out of during agility.

There is no class next week because of an Agility Trial being held at the training facility but I am going attend and watch. It'll be a great experience seeing lots of seasoned trainers and dogs working together. Then the following Saturday will be Dexter's last day in Intro to Agility. Our trainer said we'll be holding a mini class "competition" to see who can do as many obstacles as possible before the dog or handler makes a mistake. Then it is onto Intermediate Agility! Good job Dexter, you never stop making me a proud mommy!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dexter's Training Progress

I brought Dexter to the park the other day for a walk, let me just say it did not go as planned. He was a nightmare on the leash. All the other dogs around just sent him into overdrive. He was pulling, whining, and paid no attention to me.

What should I expect from him though? Ever since we moved he rarely gets to go to the park, and even less often, to the dog park. It just surprised me because before we moved we would walk to the dog park nearly every evening. We would do our laps around the park then go into the enclosed dog area for him to play with other dogs. Since he was old enough to go out in public that was our routine together, he never had any problems on leash or walking by distractions. But when we moved Dexter and I no longer had the access to such a close-by park. We moved far from the middle of the city to the edge of town, the closest dog park is a 20 minute ride in the car. Since we moved his walks now consist of walking around the stale neighborhood, besides the occasional passing dog, it's pretty boring around here. I think it gave Dexter a bigger blow than I realized. Without having those experiences where he would calmly walk by other dogs and other distracting things, he lost the ability to ignore them. Now when he sees a new dog it's such an uncommon event for him he just can't contain himself.

The last two nights I've been working with him on walks. I carry a few treats and keep positive thoughts flowing. He gets praise and the occasional treat when he walks calmly. It is pretty easy for him to do when there are no dogs around. We've passed two dogs on our "training" walks so far. I've been crossing to the opposite side of the street to try and make the distraction less intense for him. He doesn't freak out but he is still pulling until the dog passes behind us. I still need to work on keeping his focus. Another thing I need to do for Dexter's sake is get him out more often. I never realized that it was such a huge difference to him if we walked around the boring neighborhood or do laps around the park. Exercise was exercise, so I thought. It seems that I was badly mistaken...

What I'm trying to say it that walks are just as importantly mental exercise for dogs, especially for such intelligent and energetic dog as Dexter. I need to step it up and give Dexter more outings where he actually gets to greet and socialize with other dogs. It is what he needs, and what he deserves for being the amazing dog and friend that he is. That's it for now. My cousin and I are actually about to walk Dexter down to a local school where I can let him run around the grass field. Hopefully a 2 miles walk and an open space will help him burn off some of his frustrations, especially since he has agility class tomorrow.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Intro to Agility - June 9th

Dexter had agility class today, which was his 4th lesson in a 6 session program. He did amazing today, I could not have asked anymore of him. Today in class he learned the A-frame, Broad Jump, and Chute. He did all of them with ease. I was a bit nervous about the A-frame but he actually did very well. He know knows all the obstacles! 

Not to mention that he was off leash most of the time during class. This is a huge step for Dexter since he has trouble grasping the idea that he can't go say hello to EVERY single dog lol. He is too friendly sometimes! We also started doing sequences of multiple obstacles, almost like miniature courses. Dexter just blows my mind every class at how well he learns things. He is so attentive and quick on his feet! It was a great day. Can't wait for next week!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Positive vs. Dominance

Recently I've been really into positive reinforcement training.

I hate to admit it but I used have a very dominance based way of thinking, when it came to working with my dog. Boomer was basically raised with me thinking that he had to be in his "place" and corrections were needed when he didn't do what I wanted. I suppose it worked but I believe he suffered because of it. Boomer lacks confidence in everything he does. If he even gets any hint that he may have done something wrong he becomes upset and wants nothing to do with you. It really makes me angry at myself. He's like this because of dominance and corrective type training. I'm now determined to NEVER do this to another dog again.

Dexter is whole different story. He was raised using almost only positive methods. I'll admit, when he used to mark in the house he was scolded pretty bad and smacked on the butt. It was out of frustration and laziness on my part. I still regret it. Let me just say, the "punishments" did not help at all. He continued to mark until after he was fixed. Then it stopped, thankfully. Other than that he has always been taught in a gentle way. As a result Dexter is confident and trusts me 100%. I never held him back, so he never holds himself back. I love that about him. It makes working with him just a joy because he'll try everything at least once.

Everything we've done with Betty has been positive. Even during potty training, she got no corrections. She potty trained fairly easy, no corrections ever needed. The benefits with being gentle and patient have only gotten me results when working with Betty. She still has many hurdles to get over, but I'll be there encouraging her the whole way.

Even to this day I get frustrated with my dogs, we all do, just as we would with a family member. But I'm learning that only through positive methods will dogs truly respond and enjoy working with me.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First things first

I guess we have to start somewhere.Welcome! My name is Kerr. I happen to live with three very special creatures. They all have their own story and experiences that I'd love to share with you on this blog. I believe that dogs bring so much into our lives and are here to teach us many things. These three dogs bring me lessons and laughs every single day of my life. Without further ado let me introduce them!

First off we have Boomer... the wise one.

He is the old man of the three at around 7 years old. We believe he is a German Shepherd and Pit Bull mix, perhaps with some Akita. I've had Boomer since he was 5 weeks old and let me say that we have been through so much. He was the one who started it all; my love for dogs and my interest in dog training. When it comes to dog training Boomer has seen it all. Everything from negative reinforcement, dominance based training, positive reinforcement, and many other things I'm not sure even have a name! He was my first ever dog that I could call my own. I hate to admit it but he was very much an experimental experience over the years. We've worked through a host of problems. He has overcome dog aggression, human aggression, and crippling phobias. Although not perfect he has come a long way from his crazy youthful days and has become a very loyal and amazing dog. I am very thankful to have him in my life, he has taught me a lot. 

Next up we have Betty... the withdrawn one.

3 year old Betty is our newest addition and probably the most damaged dog I have ever met. About six months ago I found Betty one day limping (as fast as she could!) down a very busy street in the middle of the city. I could not let this poor dog fend for itself. I managed to chase her to a near by middle school where I cornered her. I knelt down and slowly scooted my way to her, and sat beside her. She was terrified and cowering. I picked her up and she came home with me. Once I got her home I realized the bad state this little girl was in. She was in horrible physical condition. Her nails where so long that they curled under her paws, her back legs seemed to be crippled, extremely underweight, her whole coat was falling out, and she had gashes on her nose. The following week we brought her to the vet. She got vaccinated and it turned out she had luxatting patella in her right back leg. (The vet said that surgery was not worth the risk for such a small dog, especially since they didn't seem to bother her much) That same week we brought her to the groomers to trim her nails and get her coat trimmed and managed. It wasn't long before she started to look much better. Her fur no longer fell out , her knees became better and limped less, and she gained weight. Her mental state was a much different story. It took awhile for her to even approach us. She would find something to hide under and shut down. She has come along way and has started to show lots of personality and will play now. She still has a LONG way to go but we're determined!

Then we have Dexter... the nerdy one.

2 year old Dexter is the youngest of the group and the only pure-bred. I got Dexter from a breeder in Arizona when he was 12 weeks old. He was a dream come true. After two years of waiting and planning I brought him home in June of 2009. He has been nothing short of amazing. He was everything I ever wanted and so much more. Through research and training with him is the reason I started and fell in love with positive reinforcement. He has learned all his manners and over 50 tricks/commands using this method. Dexter is extremely smart, friendly, attentive, and passionate. There is nothing that slows this boy down, he is just GO GO GO. He is nearly the polar opposite of Boomer. He loves new experiences, other dogs, and new people. Dexter is currently being trained in Agility, we really love the sport so far. We do plan to compete once he finishes all his classes. I also plan to get him involved in Flyball, Obedience competitions, and possibly therapy work very soon. Dexter is my star in the making and I could not be any more proud!

There you go, an introduction to the whole pack. They each have their own challenges and experiences to come. Stay tuned to get training tips and see their amazing stories progress even further!