A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

Posts tagged ‘photography’

Puppy Chronicles–Day 7

Puppies Day 7 013

Little Darlin asleep in my hands.  Notice the nose leather and pads of paws are beginning to darken.  Before long black will replace the pink areas.





Cody’s confidence as a mother increases daily.  She no longer does the head tilt when her babies cry, but attends to their needs, and if they persist in crying, she simply ignores them.

She’s spending more time away from the puppies, but checks in on them frequently, sometimes just to lick each puppy briefly before leaving the box to sit in the living room with her human family.

Today was the first time since their birth that the puppies didn’t engage in their mid-morning to mid-afternoon screaming.  The day was slightly cooler and I had three fans running in my room.  Of course they had their damp towel to lie on.  I would not recommend anyone leave newborn puppies to sleep on damp towels unless you live in a very hot country.  I live in the tropics and my house can get quite hot.  The kennels outside are built of concrete and they are considerably cooler.  If I moved them out there, I would surely need to supply a heating lamp.

Because they were so comfortable, the puppies nursed long and vigorously throughout the day, and they slept well, too.  Cody ate quite well today.

Today was a good day.  I can only trust that tomorrow will be, too.

Puppies Day 7 011Mom takes a break

Puppy Chronicles–Meet the Puppies

Screamer and her cooling blanketI finally found The Screamer’s off button.  She loves to lie on a cool moist towel.  It’s very hot here in Jamaica, so there’s little risk of her chilling.  Still, we watch her and her siblings closely when they are on the mat.






Screamer leaves and Darlin joinsThe Screamer has left the blanket, and Turbo Puppy (black and gold), and Little Darlin get on.






Turbo covrd upTurbo Puppy was cold, so he tucked himself under newspapers that Mama shredded.

What NOT to do in Dog Training: Mistakes of a Dog Trainer

Athena is Stressed

Athena is Stressed

Yesterday’s training session was such a failture, but I learned so much from the experience, and I’m beginning to appreciate the role that photos and video-taking  play in my training sessions.

I took Athena out to a spot that’s nearly 30 miles away from home in order to work her. It’s a beautiful park with flowers and tall trees against a backdrop of mountains.  In this heat, I have to seek out spots with shady trees to train, if I train during the day.  Before we got there, though, I had several stops to make.

Athena had been in the car for about two hours before we finally arrived at our destination, and she jumped out of the car eagerly (on leash, of course), and began sniffing and pulling on her leash.  That should have been my first clue that this dog was way stimulated.  Then she began running circles around me as she watched people and cars pass by.  Her responses to my cues were slow, or sometimes non-existent.  It was as though she was working on autopilot that wasn’t working too well.  She was not too interested in her favorite treats: liver.

But I had my plan for the day, and wanted to get on with it.  I planned on letting her “read” the pee-mail then doing a spot of training, and finally videotaping a short instructional clip on clicker training basics.  A great plan, I thought, but one that lacked focus, detail, and a plan B.  Animals are unpredictable:  sometimes they’ll work for you, sometimes they won’t. 

 One thing I recognized, and I’m glad I did, was that Athena was not being slow and distracted because she was disobedient.  She was overstimulated–too many things demanding her attention.  I expected her to work while she was way over threshold.  I expected to run through the Novice sequence with her, but she was pulling on her leash.

As I look back, I should have focused on “fixing” one issue:  the pulling on the leash, and not worry about precision heeling, or moving sits, or recalls.  Goal-oriented that I am, I persisted, then to add insult to injury, whenever she didn’t do what I wanted, I said “No,” or “Eh eh”—those well-worn NRMs (no-reward markers) that adds stress to an already stressed out dog.

In the photo you can see signs of stress in Athena.  Notice how her ears are back and she’s licking her nose.  Move your cursor over the image and click for a larger view.

Here’s what I could have done differently:

  • Concentrate on fixing one thing—pulling on the leash, and using the Premack Principle as a reward (letting her do something she really wants when she does something I want)
  • Work in a smaller area instead of trying to walk the entire park with her.
  • Ditch the NRMs, especially in this situation.

 Sometimes in training, the trainer must shelve, at least temporarily, his agenda and attend to the immediate needs of the animal.

Focus on the Beautiful

As summer draws to its inexorable close, I find myself yearning to make the most of what I have left, while trying not to regret the projects that got neglected along the way.

Today I headed out to the country, as I love to do, with my mom and Athena.  I had planned on taking pictures, training the dog, and making a short video on one of the obedience exercises that we’ve been working on.  I packed the car with water, leashes, treats, clicker, bowls, food for a picnic, and, oh yeah, the dog, and headed out.

It rained virtually the whole time we were there.  The rain let up long enough to let Athena go out to pee, and for all of us to stretch our legs (all 8 of them), and take a few pictures.  One is posted on Athena’s page.  Go to the link on the right of your screen under “pages” and click on “Athena,”  scroll down and you will see her sitting by a cut-stone wall.

It’s a lovely picture of her, I think, and it shows the beauty of having a dog that’s obedienced trained.  She’s in a beautiful public space and sitting quietly without a leash while I take the picture. 

Mom did a bit of shopping in prepartion for some houseguests whom we’re expecting next weekend.

As we headed home, I noticed a warning light flashing on my dashboard:  something’s the matter with my car’s electrical system.  I groan innwardly.  How many more “emergencies” am I to endure? 

Dusk catches us on the road, and I happen to notice the full moon, a huge luminous globe pale against the evening sky. It’s so beautiful I can’t stand it, and I stop the car to take a picture.  But, my Sony DSC-S930 cannot capture the image,  so I drive home watching the moon grow brighter as the velvet curtain of night falls at the close of another day.

 For a short time I forgot about the warning light on my dashboard and the vet bills that I will later have this month,  and give thanks that this day did not turn out bad at all.

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