Silly pet tricks, Part 1

For some reason, I got it into my head that I want Inara to stick her tongue out on cue.  Why?  Why not?  Unfortunately it’s slow going.  For some reason I’m finding this a hard behavior to catch with the clicker.  I’ve had three little sessions and I think we’re seeing a bit more tongue action, but I don’t think she’s realizing that’s what I’m clicking.  You can see that she’s up and down and throwing behaviors at me.  Which also doesn’t make it easier to see when her tongue flicks out.  But we’re trying and we’ll get there!  Anyway, here are the first three training sessions we’ve done.  They’re not exciting, but I thought it would be fun to be able to see any progression.

On a random note, we have our first C-WAGS Rally competition this Sunday, so wish us luck!!!

Perfect trifecta for brilliant behavior?

Could it be?  Have I found the penultimate trifecta that inspires genius in Inara?  That keeps her from over-reacting but keeps her drive up enough to provide a brilliant rally performance?  I’m not sure I should share this secret!  But I will, because I know others may benefit from it.  It has three main ingredients (hence the word “trifecta”).

1.  New treats:  Nothing extraordinary, just a generic lamb-based food roll cut into training treat sizes.  Inexpensive, easy to carry, not messy.  Stinky but not in an offensive way.  However, they must taste divine.

2.  New diet:  Inara used to be on high-protein grain-free kibble.  Last week I switched her to raw, which has about 18-20% protein, about half of the kibble she was eating.  Pertinent?  Perhaps…

3.  Calming collar:  I bought this from Ginger 3 or 4 weeks ago.  I hadn’t noticed anything at first, but last night Inara was such a different dog that I’m wondering if this is one of the key aspects of the trifecta.  Anyway, it’s a possibility.

So what happened last night that made me discover this miraculous trifecta?  We had Rally class.  It’s a new session (last night was week 2) and there are three pit bulls (two of which are reactive), a 10 year old Border Terrier (completely inoffensive but apparently has a target painted on him) and a reactive Lab.  The first week Inara had snarked at the Border Terrier, just to let him know that she was a bitch.  Not that that’s difficult for other dogs to notice.  😉  But last night the Lab broke free from his owner, just one of those horrible accidents that happen, and went after the Border Terrier in a very intent way.  Fortunately everybody was on their toes so the kerfluffle was short and no harm was caused.  However, the noises during the incident!  Holy cripes.  Barking and snarling and more barking from the reactive dogs.

All but one.  Inara whipped around to see the fiasco but as soon as I called her name, she whipped right back and focused on me.  Not a peep out of her.  *insert SHOCKED face here*  That’s right, my dog who still barks upon entering the building just to announce her presence did not bark.  My dog that holds a grudge against any dog that snarks at her did not bark.  My dog who occasionally barks obnoxiously at dogs completely ignoring her did not bark.  Not only did she not bark, she stayed focused on me, eating treats and looking relaxed.  *insert shocked face again*

Short of magic, the only thing that changed last night was that perfect trifecta.  Same seat.  Same dogs.  Hell, I probably had the same outfit on.  Same everything, except the trifecta.

So, gentle readers, there you have it.  Treats cut out of a lamb food roll, new lower protein diet and a calming collar gives you a perfect dog.  Who knew?

She of the trifecta

Can dogs be bipolar?

If they can, I believe Inara is.  And I say that with love as I wouldn’t have her any other way! “But Liz,” you may be asking, “why ever would you think that your sweet, innocent little doggy might be anything less than perfect?”  Well, gentle readers, let me tell you a couple fun things about gorgeous Miss Inara.

1.  Last night we started a new session of Rally.  We’ve taken it several times but each time there are different dogs.  Inara actually started off doing pretty well, a few barks here and there, but just her standard “Hi!  I’m here!” barks.  So Ginger sets up a practice course for us, and off we go.  Obstacle number one?  No, not a rally obstacle – a real-life obstacle.  We have to pass by the seriously non-offensive Border Terrier.  FAIL.  Inara pretended as though she just noticed he was there – RARARARARARR!  Really?  So I smile sweetly, grit my teeth, and pull her back to where her brain can turn back on.  Just like that, she’s with me again.  Alright, off we go to the starting line again.  We start, and again have to pass by innocent Border Terrier minding his own business.  RARARARARARARAR!  *sigh*  Find the magic location in the room that turns her brain back on, and off we go again.  With some fast talking and quick thinking, we make it through the course with only a few more grumbles.  Then our turn comes up again.  I brace for the outburst and…nothing.  Perfect show dog.  “Mother,” I can hear her saying, oddly enough in a British accent, “I have no idea why you think I would create an outburst.  How gauche.  Pish posh, let’s trot along and have a spot of water, shall we?”  I simply shrug and go with it.

2.  Walks.  While walking, should another dog have the unmitigated gall to step on her path and come close, Inara does her most spectacular Cujo impersonation – barking, lunging, throwing the f-bomb, insulting their mother, etc.  It’s charming.  Fortunately, with bipolar doggy, it lasts less than a minute and then off she trots, quite pleased with herself, acting as though nothing out of the ordinary just happened.

3.  Very rarely is she just “there.”  She’s either UP UP UP!  Or asleep.  Thrashing a toy around wildly or snoring on the couch.  Playing tag with me or laying in the sun.  Very few in-between states where she is conscious but not doing much.  Asleep or wild.  On or off.

So yes, I do believe I have a bipolar dog.  Any others out there feel me?  Have any bipolar dogs of your own?

Inara in a rare moment of conscious calmness, with glowing ears.

I feel like chicken tonight!

So I fed it!  That’s right, switched Inara back to a raw diet.  She was on it years ago but it just got too expensive.  However, I spent some time sourcing food and I can feed her for less than a dollar a day, about the same price as her kibble.  I’m also keeping an eye on CraigsList for a used freezer so I can buy in bulk.

Inara seemed VERY excited when she saw me getting chicken out for her.  It makes me happy to see her enjoy a meal so much, and know how healthy and appropriate it is for her.

Being the total dork that I am, I took video.  So, enjoy!