Friday, October 30, 2009


A couple of weeks ago Marley was invited to a party. We had a lovely time, the people were fun and the dogs were well behaved.

Bella our gracious hostess

My favorite puppy

Gizmo, Brusier and Marley ready to party!

We tied in longest sit contest (we didn't use any treats).

Marley took a dip in the pool.

She was less than pleased with the whole swimming aspect of the party.

It was a great party and we had a fabulous time. I'm so impressed with the behavior of all the dogs, especially because treats were flowing like crazy. We ate too much yummy food and made new friends.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My dream dog

As child who desperately wanted a dog I had dreams of how my life would be different. I saw myself taking long meandering walks along the moors (for some reason I like the idea of wandering around the Scottish countryside). My dog would love playing endless games of fetch. We would become excellent trackers. Every evening my dog would curl next to the fireplace while I knitted a sweaters.

I've discovered the reality of owning a dog is much different and I've spent the last year and a half adjusting to my new reality. First of all we will not be wandering around the Scottish countryside any time in the near future. We do not have a fireplace and I'm a horrible knitter. I've discovered in order to become great at tracking, I need to get up at "OMG its REALLY EARLY" to train, this is just not happening any time soon. Finally, I have to accept that my dog is just not interested in playing fetch.

I find this the most difficult, how could I have a dog that will not play fetch? She likes chasing the ball, sometimes she'll bring it back. Mostly she chases it and then sits next to it and looks at me like I'm crazy. I've tried a variety of balls and she is just not interested. I love reading about these great border collies and Australian Shepherds that live for fetch and I'm a bit jealous.

I'm slowly adjusting to the fact that my dog loves agility and if I really want a fabulous relationship with my dog I have to set aside my dreams of playing fetch and I have to embrace agility. I've started this transition by giving away our chuck-it and buying some agility dvds.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Agility 4.6

Marley has been doing very well in class and I'm very proud of her. We have been working on switch. Where she'll go through a hoop, I'll call her through a different hoop and then have her switch direction going away from me and jump. (This sounds complicated and should probably use pictures)

After class our trainer stopped me and said, "I want to be able to advance Marley to the next level, however she needs to go over all the jumps*." She also told me Marley had great drive and was very excited during class.

She suggested I make some jumps and practice at home.

After she spoke with me, I decided to try Marley again on jumps. We did jump, jump, tire, jump and she did them fine. We did a total of three sets going in different directions and she didn't have any problems.

I'm not sure what to do about my silly dog.

* This is a sequence of 3-4 jumps in a row.

Monday, October 5, 2009

New play behavior

I'm always watching Marley when she plays with other dogs. She likes to wrestle and I'm always concerned about it getting out of hand and developing into a fight. I look for "balanced play" where both dogs take turns being on the bottom. This is especially important because her favorite playmates are part Chihuahua, which means they are usually smaller than her and she can easily dominate the play.

Marley is very good about holding back her strength (or self handicaping) in order to play with her little friends, however sometimes she needs a quick reminder that she needs to hold back. One of the commands we have worked on is "lettem up" (why are all my commands all one quick slurry word?). When ever I notice Marley is keeping a dog down longer than I or the other dog owner feels comfortable I say the command and Marley jumps off and waits for her playmate to get up and they then continue playing. This didn't take very long to teach because she quickly realized if she didn't respond to the command play would stop immediately.

Marley has recently started exhibiting new odd behavior that I'm not sure how to interpret. About two months ago we met Cleo, who is about 19lbs. They ignored each other, except for dominant marking in the park.
Last week Marley finally noticed Cleo and she went up to her and exhibited puppy-like behavior, such as lip licking, nipping around the lips, lots of play bows and little sharp excited yips. If Cleo reacted, Marley would swing around slightly and body slam Cleo. This continued until Cleo started to chase Marley.

Cleo playing with her favorite toy.

When done playing chase and drank water together. Then they started wrestling, which was interesting because while they look similar in size Cleo outweighs Marley by 10 lbs.
Marley wrestling with her new BFF, Cleo.

I found this interesting because I have not encountered that type of play solicitation that merges puppy like behavior with body slams. At this time while I closely supervise and I will step in if the play vibe changes, I'm interested in finding out if I should be more concerned about this behavior.