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Weekly Training Update (Nov 13)

On another remarkably warm Sunday afternoon, we again made time for class. While Lilly did not stay calm from start to finish, she bounced back better than she would have in the past from seeing lots of new dogs and from firecrackers. Yes, firecrackers in @#$@ November. Still, I ended up with a fat lip, after Lilly decided to jump her jitters out when I wasn’t looking. Rather than face photos that reveal Lilly’s mood by ear position and head tension, enjoy this gallery of butt shots — a tale of tail position.

Lilly indeed hopped out of the car on arrival and went into Relaxation Protocol mode. Once she got past shark-like grabbing, we headed toward the other dogs who were already in the park. I could tell she felt nervous because she began that prancing, fast-foot thing she does, so I asked her to SIT so that we could resume protocol work. She did, but when I glanced away to make sure no traffic was coming (because we were in the road when she got scared), something triggered her to begin jumping straight up, and she popped me right in the mouth.

Serious ouch!

So, of course, I cried out from both shock and pain, which only made Lilly more scared.

We managed to get ourselves back on track, but her bottom told me clearly how she felt.

{I’m sorry the photos for this post got lost in a massive blog glitch.}

I’m not kidding when I say that people have mistaken Lilly for an Australian Shepherd (a cropped tail breed) because she often tucks her tail so tightly to her tummy that you cannot see it.

She also did a fair bit of displacement sniffing to work through her fear. You can see the tail coming up.

Lilly’s tail came out fully once she got the chance to kiss on Gigi Moss (our dog trainer). We continued to work, with plenty of distance, from the many dogs in attendance. Again, there were only three adult dogs we knew well. The rest were new, younger classmates.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the bigger class sizes now that it’s scheduled for afternoons (during the winter). I think fewer people want to get up early-ish on a Sunday to train their dog.

We worked on loose-leash walking. We worked on WHOA (stopping from a distance), which Lilly finally seems to be getting better at on the flat. We worked on fast downs from a run, while I continued to move. We even did out-of-sight recalls.

Since I was way on the other side of a hill and could not see Lilly until she got close to me, I asked Gigi how Lilly did, and she said she thought they were the fastest recalls she’d ever seen Lilly do. So, that’s amazing news. Bravo, Lilly bug!

But, while we were waiting for others to do their recalls, some rotten person near the park set off 3-4 firecrackers over about 2-3 minutes. Poor Lilly flipped out. She didn’t go into total flee mode, but she did get very, very upset.

I gave her food anytime there was noise, and I did my best to comfort her. Thankfully, it stopped, or we would have had to leave.

After a few nervous minutes, Lilly calmed back down. Here she is watching another dog-handler team come back after their recall. To me, she seems if not “confident” then at least not fearful.

I think it helped that Conto, the German Shepherd Dog we know and love, was at class. We haven’t seen him for ages because he and his mom have been busy with agility. Huge congrats to them for already earning their first UKC title. And, this big, handsome boy has gotten three FIRST PLACES. Whoo hoo!

Lilly feels better when Conto is around because I think she knows he will handle anything that comes up. So, thanks, big boy!

We were sad to learn that Conto’s best friend, Woody (the malamute), is recovering from knee surgery. That means they’re both missing each other the way we’re missing our Katie girl. So, we send our best wishes for Woody’s recovery.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

KB - November 14, 2009

I’ve experienced the “I lean over just as K bounces up toward me” injury. I chipped a tooth – glad that you didn’t do that! What bad luck.

It sounds like Lilly recovered from some tough things very well – your injury and the firecrackers. It sounds as if you had a good class.

I’ve been noticing Gigi’s classes getting bigger, with more young dogs. Good news for her, I think. But, I’m so sorry to hear about Woody. I’ll have to contact his human. And Conto – wow!

However, K has generalized a couple of bad GSD experiences to all GSDs, including Conto. Bummer…

Dog-geek - November 14, 2009

Firecrackers? In November? Geez! I’m glad Lilly was able to bounce back, though.

(Aside RE: Lilly’s tucked tail – last night I had a dream about B meeting a new dog, and in my dream, I thought she had her tail tucked very tightly, but then I realized that her tail was *gone*, and I was like, huh? I could have sworn that she had a tail!)

Scout and Freyja - November 13, 2009

We know how it is about those big noises! Scout likes nothing about them – NOTHING! It sounds to us like you recovered pretty quickly – GOOD DOG!

Maery - November 13, 2009

No photos of the fat lip? Hopefully, it’s better now. I know how those unintentional bashes can hurt. Wish me luck on finding my own training class for Java. I may not be able to start though until after the holidays. I keep hoping for calm one of these days.

Meredith Resnick - November 13, 2009

Oh! I’m so sorry for you both! I hate firecrackers because of the terror they cause innocent animals to experience.

Sam - November 13, 2009

Sigh. I feel your pain about the fireworks as if it were my own. They’re still doing them here, too. My poor girl freaked out the other night when some #%$#^ neighborhood kids with nothing else better to do than loiter on a street corner set some sort of noise maker off. Marge goes into total panic any time we hear a firework. She did “bounce back” about 50%-75% before we reached home and started to take food again, so I’m wondering if I can attribute that to her pill.

Ugh, though. I’ve been living in constant fear of the stupid things since July.

In any case, it sounds like Lilly handled herself really well for the amount of distractions that were present.

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