Friday, April 30, 2010

Back in the swing of things...

I apologize to everyone for our lack of activity this month. We'll be back on schedule now with regular posting. An upcoming event tomorrow to attend is a PAW fundraiser in Decorah to raise money for emergency veterinary costs for rescued animals, including a recent dog that needed major surgery. The craft sale is held at the fairgrounds in Decorah from 9-3.

The Good Dog Center has been busy with spring classes and agility season starting up again. Spring classes are my favorite because the people and dogs are both usually rearing to go, anxious to get out in the nice weather. This mid-60s weather is my favorite, warm enough for short sleeves and not too hot for the dogs. In addition to the increased outdoor regular exercise, spring also means more for dog training like tracking and weight pull practices for our own dogs, two of our favorite dog sports. My birthday present to myself this month was a new weight pull harness for Noel (what makes us dog people happy....). Of course the other part of our business is grooming and this time of year means twice as many calls with everyone wanting to get in yesterday.

I hope everyone has been enjoying the wonderful weather with their dogs!

Monday, April 12, 2010


I realize that trying to prepare for more than one sport can be overwhelming at times--I know that I have been guilty of trying to do too much with my dogs--so much so that it has taken some of the fun out of training and competing (not to mention has made me less patient with my dogs). However, especially for those who compete in obedience, doing some other sport like agility can really help both you and your dog enjoy training. Obedience is difficult and requires a lot of thinking for both dog and handler. It's not inherently enjoyable. I know that I have to consciously work at making obedience training fun so that my dogs will not get overly stressed or bored--I want them to enjoy it. I am struggling now with my Amstaff, China, who has completely shut down in the obedience ring--this has a lot to do with the fact that I put too much pressure on her in our training--a mistake I really don't want to repeat.

On the other hand, agility for many dogs is self-rewarding. The dogs get to run and jump and go through tunnels--I mean running through a tunnel at top speed--come on that even sounds fun to me. Doing something different like this--mixing it up a little bit--will keep training enjoyable and interesting. When you and your dog are having fun training together, your relationship will improve significantly. One last anecdote from my own experience. Paloma, my 10-year-old Aussie, use to completely blow me off in the obedience ring. We barely managed to get our CD after which I vowed I would never do obedience again (that was 6 years ago and I'm still doing it)--so we took a break and did agility which she absolutely loves. About two years later I returned to the obedience ring with her--she finished her CDX with her best score yet--a 195.5--a great accomplishment for us as a team. I'm convinced that our agility training--something we really enjoyed doing together--played a significant role in improving our working relationship.

Just some thoughts.....oh, and sorry we haven't posted for awhile.