Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘dog training

Various Snippets

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There are days –I bet you have them, too— when there isn’t one main story of the moment to tell. Just random tidbits that may, or may not, be related. Snippets.

Starting Thursday after work last week, Cyndie and I had a goal to get a lot done in preparation for World Labyrinth Day the following Saturday. I had it in mind to relocate a cold compost pile to a low spot we are building up. I told Cyndie it would just be 4-6 wheelbarrow loads. It turned out to be double that.

While huffing the loaded wheelbarrow up to the dump spot, I saw the stack of 15 pallets waiting to be stowed. By the end of Friday, we had built the fenced courtyard for the chicken coop, raked the round pen with the ATV, put the cover on the gazebo, raked, pruned, hung hammocks and a dozen other small simultaneous tasks.

It occurred to me that the number of spring chores we accomplished felt equivalent to annual Work weekend at Wildwood, except instead of a full community of six families, it was just Cyndie and me.

During one of my passes by the paddock that Friday, I stopped to take a picture of Hunter taking a serious full-sleep nap. I thought it was funny that in his complete unconsciousness, his relaxed lips produced a pearly white smile.

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As soon as I set down my tools and pulled out my camera at the fence, Cayenne walked up to meet me. Dezirea was quick to follow suit.

Yesterday, I was walking Delilah past the chicken coop when she reacted with unwanted interest in the chicks milling around inside their fence. I decided to try an exercise of getting her to lay down right next to their enclosure in calm submission.

The plan was to get her to engage directly with me, and disregard the (incredibly enticing) chicks. It was comical watching her struggle against her insatiable predator urge. This exercise will take a LOT of repetition if we have any hope of ever lulling her into a state of being able to regard the chickens as “friends, not food.”

Back to thinking about Wildwood again, while walking Delilah through the woods near the house, I paused to search for signs of our transplanted trillium blooming.

For the last several years, while up at the lake place for Memorial work weekend, we have collected samples of the trillium that carpet the forest floor around the property and brought them home to plant as ‘starters’ in hopes of replicating a similar display here.

We always plant them in sets of three in a triangle shape to help keep track of our success ratio. The results have been pretty good.

If you look closely at the image, there is a non-flowering trillium just behind and to the right of the lone blossom commanding all the attention.

It will be a thrilling sight when we finally find evidence of new sprouts from spreading rhizomes showing up among our original groups of three.

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Trying Hard

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Our wonderfully sweet and incredibly carnivorous Belgian Tervuren Shepherd, Delilah, was trying so hard to be a good cooperator yesterday for Cyndie. There is currently nothing more enticing to her than the scent of chicken manure and she has quickly figured out there is a really good supply of it around the chicken coop.

I suppose the presence of flittery feathered figures darting about enhances the allure quite a bit, but honestly, she seems almost more interested in the scent they leave behind. (I wish.)

In attempt to train her to better control her urges, Cyndie restrained Delilah a short distance from the coop while the chickens were romping in their courtyard and Cyndie was cleaning the coop. Delilah’s job was to practice staying calm while observing the action.

I think maybe she was closing her eyes in attempt to overcome the powerful drive revving inside her.

Sounds like it went well for a little while, but over time the urge would become unbearable. Delilah would get all wound up and let out a yelp. Next would come the nervous yawn.

After a little calm assurance from Cyndie, the exercise would resume for another round.

We are hoping to keep up a regular dose of exposure to the chickens for Delilah, while closely supervising her state of increasing excitement. In time, if we last long enough, she should become bored with the situation. When that happens, we ratchet up the exercise to bring her another step closer to the chickens while working to help her maintain a state of calm submission.

I am inclined to think we will get bored before she will, but I think the only alternative involves risks to the chickens that we don’t want to take.

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Written by johnwhays

May 11, 2017 at 6:00 am

Newer Tricks

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Our dear Delilah is getting another year older and we are looking at adding some newer tricks to her repertoire, like behaving well around other dogs and not showing her fangs and snapping at others unprovoked. Wouldn’t that be nice?

img_ip1717eI don’t know if we will ever get around to convincing her not to bark at thunder or bolt off in the direction of gunshots, but at least those involve pretty obvious and relatively infrequent triggers.

Cyndie is trying out another training class at a pet store in Hudson in a pay-as-you-go plan for now. After 1 session, she reported that Delilah was an “angel dog” in a text on her way home, (a message which arrived to me as “ninja dog” after autocorrection).

The biggest opportunity right now is getting her to accept some guests that are living with us. George and Anneliese are here with their dogs while they are between homes. Our neighbors are moving to central Minnesota. For now, their dogs are behind baby gates and confined to the basement.

We are moving slowly and letting them know each other exist, but not having direct contact. We had all the dogs out on the back yard grass together yesterday, but each on a leash. They seem to be just fine about the general proximity.

I think it will be a heck of a trick to get Delilah trained to a level where we have control over her natural instinct to inflict her dominance over any other creature around her.

But it’s a goal.

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Written by johnwhays

September 24, 2016 at 9:05 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Nail Appointment

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The horses had their hooves trimmed yesterday. We are nearing the end of the season of rapid hoof growth, as the days grow shorter and the horses’ bodies shift their energy to growing a winter coat of hair. The hoof growth is still going summer-strong and combined with the wet weather we’ve experienced all summer, our horses’ feet have looked pretty rough around the edges.

Cayenne has received some special attention since her days of lameness when she developed an abscess on one foot. George has been slowly reshaping the hoof over a period of multiple trims to correct the way it will support her weight. She has one hoof that tends to develop a crack in it.

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The horses weren’t the only animals having an adventure here yesterday. Delilah was exposed to a wonderfully submissive female bob-tailed Australian Shepherd. We are always grateful for a chance to work on Delilah’s socialization, and this episode verified we are a long way from having control over her aggression.

Delilah is good at blocking out our attempts to command her to stand down, soldier. I’m afraid she requires reprimands that equal her outbursts, and I’m not sure our level tends to match hers.

I don’t know how to balance an intense level of reproach between that which would be effective and one inducing unintended trauma to her canine psyche. We got her when she was already almost 10-months old, not knowing the full extent of her early history, and it seems to us that she shows occasional signs of possible past trauma.

Cyndie is considering shopping around for a training school course this fall. She has my full support.

Our feline had a different sort of adventure last night. Pequenita was conspicuously absent overnight and this morning, such that it was the very first thing Cyndie and I spoke of this morning. Where was the cat?

She has a history of wanting to get outside. Last night we had company over and ate dinner on the deck, so were in and out of enough doors that ‘Nita had plenty of opportunities to sneak out. Our first thoughts were to look outside, but logic told me that there are plenty of indoor places where she might have gotten trapped behind a closed door.

With that in mind, it didn’t take long to hear her distant call from the storage room downstairs. She was thirsty and starved for affection, but otherwise unharmed by her overnight confinement away from her peeps.

We dive into another day of relative animal normalcy with our crew…

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Written by johnwhays

August 26, 2016 at 8:22 am