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.|
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.|