Friday, February 14, 2014

Brain Games & Love

As I've lamented over the last several weeks, Barley and I have been limited in our physical fitness lately due to ridiculously cold temperatures! Here's what the weather's looked like on our last four walks--we haven't had a walk over 1.3 miles since the 3rd.


This week, we've really been focusing on the brain games to at least keep up with our mental fitness. We've been playing variations of the hide-and-seek games the winter session of K9 Kamp has been posting each week: we can't quite fit in a box like Rocco can (and Soth would not be pleased if someone stole a box out from under him), but Barley's new cozy cave bed is an excellent hide-and-seek tool.


I can hide, too!

We have been able to play hide-and-seek with Barley's toys. She's not a huge fan of this game because she'd rather chase her toys or snuggle with them, but every now and then if I'm reading in bed, she'll hop up with a toy and I'll hide it in the pillows and blankets. We're really looking forward to practicing the hide your eyes trick this week--how cute!


We've also been playing with Barley's treat ball regularly. Even after a month of playing with it, this toy still breaks her brain. She's started to figure out ways to get the treats more easily, though. She's found if she rolls it into a corner or up against her crate, she can just keep bashing it against the wall/crate and turning it a little bit at a time until a treat falls out--and bashing is a lot more fun than rolling it from one end of the apartment to the other. I've also gotten better at letting her problem solve--instead of following my instinct to help her out when she gets the ball stuck under the dining room table or the desk, I've been pretending not to notice and she works it out herself. (I will probably regret this when she gets her head stuck in one of the dining room chairs.) Seriously, if you don't have one of these yet and your dog is going crazy with this cold, you should get one.

We also got some homework from our agility teacher, which has been wearing out my pup, too. On Tuesday night, we were struggling with leading out. Somebody is a little velcro-y and doesn't like it when I leave her behind. As soon as I'd leave her side and get to the jump, Bar jumped and was by my side. She actually has a very good stay in some situations--she did beautifully when we were practicing for the CGC (and during the actual test) and she is excellent at home; I can put her in a sit-stay and leave the room and she won't budge until I release her. But, in class, there are a lot of distractions and we've spent so much time keeping her focus on me that she gets a little unsettled when I leave her side.

So, our trainer is having us practice and sitting and staying in front of a jump. We were supposed to use her dinner to practice and put it on the opposite side of the jump and if she doesn't get up, she gets her dinner. But dinner is a really important part of her routine and when it's messed up, she get's a little crazy--she'll act like she hasn't had dinner and run back and forth to her bowl for the rest of the night.  So, we improvised and used the next best thing--CHEESE! This is also helpful because some activities in class require light colored treats so we can throw a treat and the dogs can see them on the dark floor, but Barley loves cheese. When the cheese comes out, she can't focus on anything but the cheese. She runs through every single trick she knows because she's too excited about cheese to think about what I asked her to do. This makes the activities that require cheese in class extra difficult because she is a spinning, jumping fool instead of a focused pup.

We didn't get to practice our homework on Wednesday, but we had a good session on Thursday. I had her sit on one side of the jump and set pieces of cheese on the other side. In between setting pieces of cheese on the ground, I'd toss her a piece so she'd get rewarded for sitting and staying. I am not supposed to go back to her because our trainer says that's a reward for her and she's turned it into a game because she knows if she gets up, I'll come back to her to reset her in front of the jump. We aren't good at being apart. At first, Barley was really excited about the cheese and she kept getting up, but I'd cover the cheese with my foot until she sat on her own and then toss her a piece when she sits again. Then I'd release her and she'd get all the cheese from the floor.

Barley's part vulture.
Slowly, but surely she started to focus less on the treats on the floor.
Look how far apart we are!
She couldn't get to the treats fast enough.
A little more control this time around.
Yum!
Hope everyone takes a break for a little extra lovin' today! Soth and Barley have been having a sibling love fest this week, so I think the Valentine spirit has rubbed off on them.


Happy Valentine's Day from me, Barley, and Soth!


The Mutts Comics Facebook page had this delightful strip posted this week. It seems appropriate for me and the pupperoo.







12 comments:

  1. What a great post. Good job Barley! Impressive display of self control. I wonder how many 'takes' it took to get the shot ;-0

    Thanks for joining FitDog Friday!

    -Slimdoggy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Barley's actually a very patient model--she's so used to me sticking the camera in her face that she usually sits pretty still and most retakes we have to do are because I didn't have a good angle :) Although we occasionally get a few "awesome" pictures thanks to her sneezes and yawns.

      Delete
  2. What a great photo of Barley at the end, Happy Valentines Day! Sloth and Barley together are also adorable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It definitely wasn't love at first sight for them, but they have grown on each other!

      Delete
  3. Aww, what a fun post! I loved it from beginning to end! I love your cave bed. For some reason, we don't have one of those! Rocco loves his treat balls too, but he doesn't have the one you have. Good luck with your start line stay. We've been working a lot on that too. Looks like you're making progress! And that's for the shout out! Would love to see how you do with Hide Your Eyes and I bet Barley would love some box games too! Stay warm!
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll definitely keep you posted on the Hide Your Eyes progress! I think I like the cave bed more than Barley does--she's always burrowing in the bedding on my bed, so I thought she'd like to have her own bed to burrow in, but when she decides to go to her own bed she just lays on top of it unless I tell her to get in :) Soth is the only one who will burrow into it!

      Delete
  4. Hi Y'all!

    What a wonderful and informative post.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It's so nice to find someone else who says y'all! My midwestern friends always laugh at me when my southern roots come out like that :)

      Delete
  5. We want to learn Hide Your Eyes (though I'm gonna go with Say You're Prayers) too! :) Looks like you guys have been able to keep busy despite that frosty weather. Good on you for being so innovative!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This winter has definitely been a creative challenge! Usually, we get snow and it's cold, but we can go outside and play in it for a while or take decent walks, but with the extra bitter cold this year, we're definitely learning how to have fun inside, too! Good luck on learning Hide Your Eyes--I'm thinking I might need one of those crazy gloves falconers wear if I'm going to teach Bar to put her paw on my arms; she's pretty enthusiastic when the treats come out!

      Delete
  6. Maddux says thank you for adding the treat ball link up here. It's officially going in the cart today :-) Love the pics!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great idea to use dinner as a training opportunity! Definitely going to be taking up this one with Kate the Kelpie. Love you are coming up with ways to stimulate and entertain your dogs even housebound with the weather.

    ReplyDelete