I volunteer for New Rattitude Rat Terrier Rescue
Helping to find rescued Ratties in need their second chance at life in good fit forever homes.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Timken Meets The Fun Zone!

We had so much fun at K9 Fun Zone and the Barn Hunt a few weeks ago we decided to book another time slot and head back into Seattle to do it again! The hay bales have been taken out now but that is ok. There's all kinds of agility equipment there and Tim, Skip, and Birdie all had fun trying some new things out.

Skip and Birdie were AWESOME on the agility equipment but alas I didn't take any pictures or video. I was too busy having fun with them, and after all, quality time with mom and dad is more important that capturing the moment. I will say though that Skip impressed me so much I think he is a born agility dog. There was not one thing he didn't excel on, well maybe one, the tunnel. We will have to work on the tunnel next time but I have no doubt he will figure out what I am asking next time we visit and he sees that tunnel. Birdie was great too, she has wonderful balance and insight on what we are wanting her to try.

When Timken was first brought in he was really nervous. Slinking and stretching to sniff things. But with Skip and Birdie doing their agility maniac routines Tim warmed up really quickly. He especially liked it when the treats came out and he took a real liking to Lindy the owner of the facility. I just can not say enough good things about Lindy. She is there if you would like a tip or to offer ideas to try but she also hangs in the back ground if you are working with your dog.  She loved the trio and was smitten by Timken. She sat on the floor and with lamb lung in hand she began to work with him just having him put his head under the white bar on the ladder contraption that Birdie and Skip were having fun walking through. Tim did great and he really liked Lindy. I only got a few pics and 1 video, I really wanted to be in the moment, so the cameras went away after a few shots. Timken had a a lot of undocumented successes so you will just have to imagine him, walking over poles on the ground, putting his paws on a ramp, and moving around with his tail relaxed. It was a great evening!

Here is Tim's first attempt to reach under and into an unfamiliar apparatus. His stretch position with a semi tucked tail.

He got comfortable doing this move, something I would have never thought of working with him on myself. Thanks Lindy!

Tim says, "hey wait a minute, why is Skip getting a treat when I am doing so much work?"

This was as far as we got this time. But it is a great start. Maybe next time Tim will enter and walk through. Maybe not, it doesn't matter, the time table is not important, just that he is learning time and time again that he can trust humans and maybe even have a little fun! Great job Tim!!!!!!

A little chaotic with Birdie and Skip vying for getting through and getting a treat. :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

3 Dogs Take Satellite For A Spin

We were lucky enough to have had some very cool toys donated to us by an independent pet supply store. We got a lot of great things and one of them was this Satellite Food Toy by Kong.

Click here to find out about this fun interactive toy The Kong Satellite

This was a really fun toy to try out with the dogs and they all had their own style of working to get the food to move through the arms and then out. Timken, Skip, and Liza all took a turn and can you guess who rocked the Satellite! Keep reading to find out.......

Tim is not too sure about this weird thing.

Tim doing his streeeetch routine. He is curious but cautious.

There is something that smells yummy in here so Tim is enticed to get a bit closer.

We were in our bathroom with one dog at a time and I'm sure it would have been better for Tim if we had been on a carpet or rug. But with too many dogs all wanting in on the act we had to work in a place where we could all have a little privacy.  The floor made the Satellite louder as it was moved and also the floor was slippery. But Tim did ok and he had another new experience under his belt. You see how he always goes to Dave for reassurance after each try, but that is ok! That's what we're here for.

Skip's Turn! 

He was able to get the kibble to come out right away

And the Queen of the Satellite Liza-Bear! This little 9 year old Min-Pin will not be shown up by any silly Rat Terriers! lol

Liza really got into it, at one point she was pushing it with her paw and it would slam into something and the jack pot would be released! Good job Liza!!!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sybil Has Some Wonderful News To Share!

Well it has happened! Sweet Sybil has found her forever home. In fact her adopters made sure we knew as her foster parents that she would be one of the "family" and that she would have a home forever. This is great news as she had a little speed bump in the road after her last adoption. Her family will consist of a retired dad who is home most of the time and an adult human brother who also lives at home and helps dad on a home business. But she will also have a mom who was hoping for a little girl to cuddle on the sofa and take walks around the neighborhood and on some nearby trails. Her new mom was wanting a dog who would pal around with her and Sybil is just that lil girl. Her new family also have an RV and plan to take Sybil anywhere they go. So three cheers to Sybil and her new family! She will be missed but we are so very happy for her.

Sybil with the doll head she found behind the shed....silly girl

Sybil as spokes-model for cool toys!

Having fun eating snow...

Hanging out with Timken, she was so good with him and I am sure he will miss her.

Sybil in Edmonds on a city walk

Sybil in the photo shoot

Sybil looking cute for the camera

Awwwww sweet girl relaxed in my lap

Sybil showing her stunning beauty.

Happy Tails Sybil! 
We are so happy to have been able to foster you sweetheart.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Find The WAbbit...

I continue to work with Timken and new games. He LOVES the Skineez toys and we had fun playing "find the bunny in the blanket". Tim was really into this and took right to the game. Good boy Tim!

Tim after he found the toy that I had hid under the blanket.

In this video I had really wrapped the toy into the blanket, Tim being a little cautious had a tough time and lost interest.

So I made it a bit easier so he could have success finding it. That was the whole point this this time around. There is time to really challenge him and in the future we can keep making it harder but to build confidence he needed to be able to find the bunny and kill it LOL He did just that!

We played a little tug before I hid the bunny this time. Tim used to not be comfortable playing tug with me. He wouldn't pull at all. He is so sweet and he is playing tug with me now. Working with Tim on his confidence is very rewarding.

Such a good boy whose rattiness is shining through more and more each day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Everybody Loves An Egg Baby!

 What is it with egg babies? Is it the fact that they are soft and ball like and can be tossed in the house for a safe game of fetch? Because they can be bit into and squeaked? Because they can be hidden inside one of the Egg Baby Toys (can be purchased through the New Rattitude Retail Shop) so they can be fished out in a simulated game of kill and gut? Is it that they can be tossed and roll around catawampus so they can be pounced on and then squished again and again? Or maybe because you can hide them all over the house and in blankets and teach the dogs to play "find the egg baby" games? Or maybe it is because a rattie's mouth fits nicely over them and they can cuddle them or suckle them? I think it is all these things that make egg babies something that the dogs all swoon over.
Egg babies are small soft eggs with squeakers. They can come stuffed in Egg Baby Toys or you can buy refill egg babies. The fish is one example of an egg baby toy. You can squish the eggs and fill his belly with them and the dog has to figure out a way to get them back out. A pretty fun game for a tenacious terrier!

 Moon was our first foster dog to find egg babies irresistible.

Then there was Sierra who one day decided she was an egg baby groupie when I first heard her squeak squeak squeak one in the other room and went to look for that noise and there she was with a blue egg baby in her mouth.

I decided to pull new egg babies out as the blue ones had been gutted, re-squeaked and re-sewn, then gutted again. So out came the new egg babies and Sybil and Timken were all over them!

 Tim has previously been nervous around squeaking toys. He especially didn't seem to like to squeak them himself but he will squeak egg babies!

Now that Tim seemed comfortable with the egg babies I stuffed some into Fish to see what he would do. This kept him busy for quite some time. He never did get one out but in time he will figure it out. It was just a good exercise for him to work at something and not be afraid.

Sometimes the most simple things end up being a house fave! Yay Egg Babies! I love them too!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Have You Ever Wondered....

...how our multi dog household does TV time with 6 dogs who all want a piece of the lap/furniture?

Here is the answer to that question in pictures.

Timken starts out in Dave's lap. Look at those little footsies!

Sybil is usually next to me on top of the blanket.

I am soooo sleeeepy

Not sure Tim could get any more comfortable.

Birdie is on Dave's legs under the blanket.

Skip is next to me but under the blanket.

Liza is next to Skip and to get her, Sybil, and Skip all on the loveseat with me is a feat in itself as none of them like to touch each other if they can help it. I always have to help them so they don't get poopy with each other.

Jenny has her own dog bed in the room as she doesn't really like to be in laps as a general rule.

New position for Sybil

Birdie must have gotten hot because she is in a new position now.

Skip got hot so he moved so his head is out from under the blanket.

And Timken ended up in my lap mostly under the blanket.

I have a lot of people ask me how we can have 6 dogs in the house. Now you know how TV time goes! Door-bell-ringing time is whole other story......lol

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Positive Reinforcement How Hard Can It Be?

All the dogs love to go for a walk and we try to go every day or at least 5 times a week minimum. Sybil loves to get her harness on, she LOVES to get in the car and practically leaps in her crate from our arms when the door is opened. She gets vocal when we turn down the road that goes to the place we park to get out and walk and she is just beside herself with anticipation when the car stops and we get out to leash up everyone and get going. All good right? Right!

 When we walk out on the trails we use retractable leashes so the foster dogs can have some autonomy for sniffing and peeing etc. Sybil likes to mark, she can squat, mark and catch up to me in no time flat and we can continue motoring at a nice pace. Timken is usually on leash with Dave I have Sybil on leash with me. Many times what has happened is all of a sudden Sybil stops in her tracks and plants her feet and will not budge! I have tried calling her to me, picking her up and carrying her part way then putting her back down which works temporarily, before we are back to square one. I have waited...and waited...and waited, which sometimes works but not always. I have circled back around and gotten her to go the opposite way then balk! Dave has carried her part way and that works for a bit then balk! Once she gets going again she is usually good to go for the rest of the walk but this balking could be tough when we are on a time schedule and it is freezing and or raining out and we need to get walking and warmed up!

Sybil on her first walk with us, she was very curious about this new place.

All my foster parent friends are yelling about now "luring and positive reinforcment!!!!, get some treats and lure her into walking!!!!!!! for goodness sakes!" LOL Well that IS one of the things I had been working on BUT sometimes it takes some trial and error to reinforce the correct behavior.

I started by holding the treat and Sybil would come running to me to get it, "yes" I would chant and offer the treat which she would devour walk a little further then BALK! I would get up ahead turn around offer the treat, she would run up "yes" I would say, go a little further, BALK! Well this wasn't working very well.

OK regroup. Palm hits forehead, I am reinforcing her to stand on all fours not walking then coming when I call. Why wouldn't she do this over and over???? (This is called "the chain" and I will explain this in another blog post in the future)

Back to the drawing board for foster mom. My next attempt went like this; make sure to offer the treat when she is actually walking. As she is walking I give the treat, she grabs it and continues along, she goes on ahead then circles back still walking to get another treat, I give her one "yes" I say repeat and so on. Now I have reinforced her to walk along without balking but to constantly come back to me for treats. Not quite what I had in mind either.

Sybil motoring the other day...always nose to the ground for her. (Note: it looks like Tim is off-leash in the back ground, he isn't, it is just a weird picture :)

Third try is a charm. OK back to the drawing board and think this through. My new method is to reinforce Sybil with a yummy treat when she is walking along, moving forward, and not asking me for the treat. Bingo! This works great! She still circles around to check on me to see if I have a treat for her, I tell her she is a doing good and then I say "let's go!" and she runs up and continues on her sniffing and walking, then when she least expects it and she is motoring along really nicely, "yes!", I say, and treat.

We are going longer and longer in between treats and we had a really really great walk today. We all moved at a good pace which gave us, and most importantly, the pack of terriers the exercise we all needed.

So here's the thing...yes initially I reinforced the wrong behavior which caused some confusion for poor Sybil, but the reality is she wasn't harmed in any way, she just didn't know exactly what I was asking for. Lucky for me Sybil is forgiving and really wants to learn what I am asking. Had we been using punishment or alpha training or some kind of yanking or choke chains that would have only made the walks scary for her, she wouldn't trust us, and it still wouldn't have gotten us the results we were looking for which is to go for a walk and to keep moving. Working with positive reinforcement isn't hard at all, it does require us who aren't professional dog trainers to think about what we want and how to efficiently and with the least amount of confusion relay that to our furry companions. The great thing about dogs and this training method is that even when we are reinforcing the wrong thing they are still having fun! Because they are getting rewarded and aren't getting reprimanded by the human for doing the wrong thing the dog can just keep at it until the human figures out how to get the behavior we are actually looking for. It is a win-win! Now I know what I need to reinforce and I will just keep up with this and we can all continue to have happy, motoring, walks.

A good long walk makes for a relaxed content little girl.

Friday, January 10, 2014

THREE E E is a Magic Number

There is a rule of thumb that I believe Patricia McConnell coined. The 3,3,3 rule. She had explained that some research done by the ASPCA on how adopted rescue dogs do in their transitions to new homes had shown that as a rule of thumb dogs going into foster homes or forever homes from shelters, or from foster homes to forever homes, anytime there is a significant change in a dog's life like changing address there are mileposts in that transition that seem to hold true in general. But what is the 3,3,3? The research found that 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months are these mileposts where there is a shift for the dog. The shift can be subtle or dramatic or a combination of the two but I can tell you that this rule of 3 really does seem to hold true in our household with our personal and our foster dogs. As a rule we don't have a foster dog for 3 months as they are usually adopted within a month or less but occasionally we do have a dog who is with us longer and it just so happens Timken and Sybil both have made it to the 3 month mark. I realized that as we approached the 3 month mark there are some significant shifts happening at this junction.

Sweet Timken in "his chair".

Let's start with Timken. He arrived in our home on Oct 12, 2013.

Here are few of the strides he has made and some of them very close to this 3 month milepost! There really was a definite shift in these 3 things and many more.

Squawk!!!--- What? Let me explain. Tim having a very shaky start to life would squawk multiple times a day for quite some time. Anytime we would reach for him, touch him, I would put his food bowl down, we touched his ears, we put him in his crate, picked him up, touched his sides, loud noises happened, we got our foot too close to him when walking through the house, quick movements etc... Tim would yelp out what sounded like a loud squawk or sometimes it sounded like a goose honk. It was startling to us and of course he had been startled too. We realized the other day that he will go days without squawking as he is feeling much more comfortable with his environment and us.

S/U--Submissive urination. Along with this squawking would many times be urination. And Tim would also submissive urinate when we would need to pick him up, even if we squatted down he would lose urine. He would sometimes lose it just because we walked up to him too quickly. This has been very minimal in the last couple of weeks leading up to the 3 month mark. The only time I can think he has done it recently is when we needed to clip his nails (there was some squawking and peeing with this but he recovered super quickly and was given lots of yummy treats for his efforts)

Harness---Getting Tim's harness on takes some time and patience. But I am happy to say he has come to me two days in a row and gotten up on the chair and let me put the harness on him. Such progress!

Adorable Sybil and Monkey relaxing together.

Sybil arrived in our home Oct 18, 2013

Here are three shifts she has made in the last week or two as we approach the three month mark that she has been in our home.

Whining and face licking---Sybil really has made huge improvements in these two areas. When we first got her she whined all the time and was very anxious about everything. She would even whine as she was taking a walk. She is also a face licker. Where that can be cute at times it really isn't cute because it can be a bad habit and also I think she does it when she is excited and anxious. Her whining has subsided greatly, she hardly does it at all except for when she is super excited like getting ready to go to get in the car, one of her favorite things, or when we have been out for a bit and she is super excited to see us. She also hardly licks our faces anymore and if we gently remind her to stop she does right away and will settle down. She still needs help with strangers though when it comes to licking faces, but she is so much more relaxed in the last couple of weeks than she had been previously.

S/U---Sybil also had some submissive urination stuff when we first got her but again this is an area she has made huge strides and her all together anxiousness is getting better and better with stability and patience.

Balking on walks---This is where I am soooo proud of her. I will do a blog post just on this balking while walking, but I am so happy to report that in the last week or two Sybil has made huge improvements in this area. A big part of this is my learning, by trial and error, how to help keep her moving forward and not get locked up when on a walk. She has really been amazing on her walks lately and that just makes it nice for everyone! Great job Sybil!!!!!

It is always important to remember that our furry friends are always changing, ebbing and flowing in their progress. I also have noticed that 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years seem to hold significant shifts for our adopted dogs too. Just like us humans our dogs are continually growing and blossoming. Patience is the magic word, and 3 can be a magic number.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Walking in the Rain with Timken and Sybil

The drizzly Northwest weather is upon us but that doesn't mean we can't go for a walk! We had some errands to run this morning but there is always time to squeeze in a quick jaunt. We decided to take Sybil and Tim to another new place, new to them anyhow. This trail is in Lowell, WA and part of it goes along the Snohomish River and then there are a few side trails that go out and around some wetlands that have been developed to be a filter for the runoff from our I5 highway. This is a great little place with lots of native plantings to help with the filtration of that yucky water that comes off our major highway. It is a mecca for songbirds and migratory birds too.

Skip, Sybil, and Timken don't care if it is a soggy day, they are happy to be going for a walk.

Tim is a bit nervous in this new place but he soon settles in when he finds there are lots of smells to distract him.

Sybil checks out the small bridge we will go over.

This bridge was much easier than the one at the marina the other day that had all the open slats. We all went across in no time flat.

Time to climb some stairs!

Tim motors along and takes the stairs like a pro.

In the distance is the Snohomish River and to the left is one of the filtration ponds. We all got up the stairs with no problems.

Heading back over the overpass, Skip is wishing mom would stop taking pictures and catch up to him.

Sybil wished foster mom would hurry up and catch up to everyone else.

Back down the stairs is easy for terriers.

There is Red Twig Dogwood all over this area and it is so pretty this time of year. This plant is a great wetland plant.

Sybil and Tim taking it all in and leading the way.

Tim had really relaxed and hit his stride. Good job kids, now back to the car to finish our errands.