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.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Annie And I Have A Plan Part 3 Eye Contact

Eye contact....this part of the plan is coming along great! I have been using Annie's evening meal of blueberries, dehydrated venison, and pumpkin to reinforce eye contact.

I sit on the floor and she comes and sits in front of me. She will now look right into my eyes and then I give her a little bite. We do this until the food is all gone and she gets to lick out the dish. In the beginning she would look at the dish, walk around, sniff the ground, try to get the food from the dish. Occasionally she would glance toward me and I would scoop a little bite out and hand feed her. I don't have a video of this but I do have photos of her looking right at me now that we have worked on this the last few days.

She is also looking to me on our walks! It is amazing how quickly these little terriers learn if you just take the time to reinforce what behavior you are looking for.

On our walk today we worked on recall and eye contact. Here is sweet Annie looking at me, I had just called her name. She got a high value treat after we took the picture. Good girlie!

Annie does this adorable sit pretty when she would like to get in my lap. How could I resist this? I can't....

Another great eye contact moment tonight when we were working with her evening meal. I had been sitting on the ottoman and she knew exactly what to do to get a bite of food. She is becoming much more engaged with us as she figures out all the yummy good stuff we freely offer her for all her hard work.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Annie And I Have A Plan Part 2

So how will Annie and her foster family be working on recall, eye contact, and weight-loss all at the same time? Easy peasy!

1) All of Annie's meals (calories) will be used as training reinforcers, treats, rewards, however you like to think about it. No bowls of food for her for a while. This will help cut her daily intake of calories while she is needing to drop a couple of lbs, and also she will be having fun working for her meal with us! That is a win-win.

2) She will be reinforced, using her allotted portions of food, for coming when she hears her name, and when she looks to me, making eye contact, to "check-in".

3) And all of this will be done through out the day and especially when we are on our walks together, the exercise part of the plan :) Meals-to-go are a great way to accomplish this.

So what will Annie be eating? She is getting all sorts of yummy high quality foods.

Annie had been eating a food that was not grain free. The second ingredient was corn, the third was another grain, and the 4th was a meat bi-product. Throw in some preservatives and artificial colors and it just wasn't the best we can do. We switched her to a different kibble called Now Fresh Small Breed Grain Free. And then she is also getting Stella and Chewies dehydrated Raw in Venison and Rabbit. Also she really likes blueberries and green beans, canned pumpkin. We will keep introducing fresh fruits and veggies into her repertoire and this will be a really healthy eating plan for her skin, organs, bones, and fur. Annie seems to really be liking the fresh fruits and veggies along with the higher quality grain free food she is eating.

I will continue the training part of this series in another post. Here are some photos and video of Annie working on the exercise part of the plan!

We walk almost every day so Annie will get a lot of walking, which she loves!

Walking on unusual surfaces and having things to climb on and jump over are all a great way to get exercise and build muscle.

Look foster mom, I am way up on this rock!

 Here she jumps right over the downed tree, nothing gets in her way.

Someone spread some nice chipped bark on this part of the trail. Everyone wants to smell the same bush before heading on down the trail.

I am happy to report that I am already getting some nice eye contact from Annie using her wet food as a reinforcer. A little messy but hey whatever works! Stay tuned....

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Annie And Tim Get Their Saturday Morning Chew On....together!

Anyone who is familiar with my blog knows that our recently adopted foster dog Timken is a very special boy. When we made the decision to help Annie out in her time of need, we had to think about how this might impact Timken and what steps we would need to take to insure he and the new girl would be successful living in the same house together until Annie gets adopted. Slow introductions were a must. Everything went fairly smoothly but as can happen with Tim being a bit awkward, Annie and Tim needed some time out from each other in the beginning hours. This is not faulting either dog, there was a lot new for everyone, it was just the best way to let Tim calm down while Annie had a chance to get her bearings and settle in.

I am happy to report Tim and Annie are doing wonderful together now. In fact they are close to the same age and they both still have that puppy play in them.

Today I saw Annie chewing on a toy and so I decided to get the toy box out and see if there were a few things she would be interested in chewing. Tim was very curious about all this and so I grabbed the camera and video recorder and sat down to supervise their interactions and to snap a few gems for the blog.

Annie and Tim were excellent together and neither of them did any guarding or even a lip curl when the other would walk by. In fact they even took turns chewing on the same toys. This made foster mom very happy for them both to have the experience of this companionship on a slow Saturday

Annie says, "so many toys...so little time".

"Found it! This is what I was looking for".

Tim says, "mom why is this thing pulled out and everything a mess?"

Annie tries a few things out, nylabone

double pointed deer antler...notice Tim now has the nylabone:)

Trying out different chewing positions....

Then they moved...together..."Hey! there are all sorts of things to chew on in this place."

Annie says "I think this is a really good way for me to clean my toofies".

Tim has never been interested in this until today, I guess Annie being here is helping him to try new things...

Foster mom, thanks for all the good things to gnaw on. That was really fun!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Annie And I Have A Plan Part 1

Many people don't always understand exactly what fostering rescue dogs is all about. They have a misconception that it is all snuggles and love and then the dog is adopted into a forever home where the snuggles and love continue. lol, WELL not exactly. Don't get me wrong, there are snuggles, there is love, but there is a bit more to it.

Annie is a lovely girl! She is a snuggle bunny, she is loving. She is easy on the eyes and she appears to be house trained. All fabulous qualities! But there is always something we can work on, just like humans, we can always improve our selves. So Annie and I have a plan for some tweaks and we want to share it with you. This is what fostering is all about, helping the dog in our care to be healthy and to work on behaviors with them that might need a little work. Luckily Annie is up for the challenge.

Annie says "let's do this thing foster mom and dad".

We are breaking it down into three parts and soon you will see how it all fits together.

1) Annie needs to lose weight. She is 2 lbs heavier than when she was adopted a year ago. Because Annie is a small dog, a type B rattie with a long back, it is so important for her to be at her ideal weight, not to mention the overall health benefits that will go along with her weightloss. 2 lbs is a lot on a little girl. Our goal is 11 lbs, she is exactly 13 now. We will accomplish this easily with high quality food, portion control, and exercise. No mysteries here.

2) Annie has little to no recall. In other words she ignores her name and does not seem to be interested in coming when we call her. This is NOT a sign that she is stubborn or clueless. This is just a case where most likely a strong recall was not reinforced over time with lots of practice. Recall is very important for the safety of our furkids. We will be reinforcing for this sweet girl that coming to her humans when she is called is fun and really pays off! I bet she will have this down in no time she is after all a very smart terrier girlie.

3) Eye contact. This sort of goes along with recall, but it is more about looking to us for cues on what is next. Making eye contact will be fun and easy to train.

Our promise to Annie is that all this training = fun times with her foster parents. There will be no scolding or pressuring to get it right. We will do the same with her as we did with Tim, lots of yummy treats and we will break it down so she doesn't get confused.

So I did say yummy treats and I did say she needs to lose weight. Stay tuned to find out how these two things can actually go hand in hand/paw in paw.

Annie now at 13 lbs

Annie a year ago at 11 lbs. No problem getting her to this point, we will show you how. And I promise she will not be starved. No crash dieting, all healthy stuff with a few tricks thrown in. :)

Annie Loves To Play!

Annie got right to it, getting her play on. She decided this chew toy made a good first choice. She can chew it and she can throw it in the air and chase it! It is always so nice when foster dogs make their self right at home.....I wonder if she will be an egg baby fan, lol. Time will tell!

nom nom nom...

Foster mom, why do you keep bugging me?

Here is a cute video of her throwing it in the air so she can chase it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Surprise! There Is A New Girl In Town.

As you probably have noticed we have been taking a break from fostering since adopting Timken. We just felt we needed some time to really work with Tim on building his confidence, Theo the cat really needed a break from the revolving door of bRatties, and Skip was in need of a break while we work on some behavior stuff with him.

But then life happens, especially in the rescue world! Sweet Annie, who had been adopted by her dad last Oct found herself in need of some help. Unfortunately her dad became ill and he is no longer able to care for her. It is very sad for them both. New Rattitude has a policy that we will try to find a foster spot for any adopted NR dog who's adopters can't keep them any longer, and so we decided to break our hiatus to take in Annie so that we can help her on her way to another chance at her forever home.

This has all come about in the last 24 hours so it was nice we could all pull it together so quickly to  get her today. Annie is already settling in very nicely. She has had a lot going on in the last 4 weeks so she will no doubt be needing a little time to just get her bearings...

Here she is getting to know her foster home and foster fur-siblings.

Annie likes going in and out as she pleases.

Who is that shadowy figure?

Just hangin' with Birdie and Skip

Skip (L) barking at the mail carrier, Annie and Liza wondering what all the commotion is about.

Timken (L) and Annie, she is a little chunky, but we will be helping her with that!

Annie in her alert position...

Pretty posies....

Awww what a sweet face.

Please check back to see me, Annie, as I get to do all kinds of fun things in foster care!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Nosework is for Everyone! Part 5 Jenny-Boo

As the title to these Nosework posts say.....Nosework is for EVERYONE! It is true. Skip and Tim have been spotlighted as they are the dogs who are going to the formal classes with mom and dad.

When we practice in the yard or house we have to put everyone away because all the dogs, yes all 5 of them, want to take a turn... And what I mean by "want to take a turn" is we have squealing, whining, barking, pogo-ing, and general mayhem from those who are waiting to take their turn. ha ha ha...

I mean to a dog what could be funner? Hanging out with mom and dad, searching for food that is hiding in a box. This game is a terriers dream! And our "mature" girl Jenny-Boo doesn't think this is a game just for boys, oh no. Jenny is hard of hearing and her sight isn't what it used to be, but boy-oh, oops I mean, girl-oh-girl does her sniffer still work. She could find the smallest of morsels anywhere-anytime. When we were practicing with novel things, Jenny was in the house barking up a storm saying "not fair not fair, I WANT a turn!!!!!!!". So that is exactly what she got. This is her very first time finding treats in a box in a more formal way and she was on it like a pro. Did someone say "find food?", Jenny's in!

I started with her by tossing treats in the grass for her to find and to lure her toward the search area, this isn't really the official way to get a dog started on this but we were just having fun with what we had out. She isn't going to be doing this as a profession so we weren't so careful with the way we were working with her. Treats were involved and that is all she cares about. Jenny also has very few teeth so the treats we happened to have were taking her a little time to eat. I would normally use a very soft treat for her in the future. Jenny didn't care though, Cheese Please happens to be a favorite of Jenny's. As you will see she did figure it out and really quick! This was her very first time ever!

Her second try and what a pro! It also came in handy that she is hard of hearing because there was a loud noise right when she found the box and I am glad it didn't scare her.

Jenny really has no fear in so many ways. If you knew how she was when we first got her 6 years ago, you would know how amazing she is doing. Finding a box under a chair is something that would still be nerve-wracking to Timken. Good girl Jenny-Boo!

Look at that 14 year old rattie girl.

Work it Jenny-Boo! Work that nose...

Found it! Jenny wants everyone to know that Nosework is for everyone....including her very proud and beaming mom and dad. Woof!
I hope everyone reading this series will try Nosework with their dogs, in a formal class, or at home. Everyone wins when they are doing Nosework!

There will be more in this series, Birdie and Liza get into the act too, and Tim and Skip continue with formal classes and continue to hone their skills.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Nosework is for Everyone! Part 4 Novel Things

You can see parts 1-3 here

When we walked into the class and saw all of this stuff out I knew we were all going to have some fun! Tim and Skip knew all about the game of Nosework  when it meant looking for treats in boxes and they really get excited when they see the boxes come out at our house. So this is called "upping the criteria". Now that the dogs in class all were very familiar with boxes around it was time for them to learn that "the place where a treat (or odor) could be hiding for them to find is endless!" 

This is what we saw when we walked in the facility that day.

The find was still in a box but there were so many things to check out in between!

Even this hand was one of the novel items.

Skip working

Wow this makes Skip have to really get working....

 Skip loves this game!

So of course we have to practice during the week so here are a few videos of us doing our own novel thing hides and finds. Now we are using food inside a container with holes in it which raises the criteria a little more as it is harder to smell what is inside. Tim, unlike Skip, is worried to stay with the raised box so that is why I took it off the chair to reward him for finding it. At first I rewarded him away from the box (wrong on my part) so then I remembered to put the box down on the ground and reward right at "source". There is a good reason for this which I will explain in a future blog post.

Because Skip seems to really like to work at this game I decided to put the hide inside a toy squirrel tree and see if he could figure it out....of course he does, he is a rock star! Because there is no reward that Skip can eat when he gets to the find it is up to Dave to reward him as quickly as possible so that Skip gets the point that when he finds the hide he gets a reward, even if it is just an odor he is searching for. This is all building up to something so hang tight it will make sense. Also it is good to note that right now we are telling each other where we are hiding the treat box, but when you really get into Nosework Trials the hides are blind hides, meaning we will have to learn our dog's alert signals telling us he/she has "found source".

 Stay tuned as another little terrier gets into the act.....

Jenny-Boo wants to share something with you......coming soon!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

GOING....Going....gone.... Timken Gets His Zen On....

Nosework is for Everyone! Part 3 First Formal Class

You can see parts 1 and 2 here

Note: this post represents Tim and Skip in the first couple of weeks of class a couple of months ago now.

Now that we had prepared Tim for what he would be facing when we went to our first class, as far as  searching boxes for food rewards, we were ready to go! We knew Skip would be fine going to class as long as no one got into his personal bubble without him being ok with that. Tim on the other hand, who is noise sensitive, worries about new people and environments, we knew he would have a lot to take in when we went to class. Our Nosework instructor, Erica Wells, is really awesome though, and she knows how to work within each of her canine student's comfort zones. So Tim had a special "dirty box" (only box that holds the food treats), that was low and had no flaps. And Skip gets all the space he needs without anyone getting too close to him until he was comfortable. He got comfortable with Erica, our instructor, right away as she is super dog savvy and so Skip was fine with her reaching toward him and the boxes from the beginning. 

Here is Skip doing his stuff in class on the first day.

I didn't get an video of Tim in class. When he is taking his turn it is important for us to be fully present to his needs. So I put the recorder away and camera and just focus on Tim. Erica and I are always making sure he is feeling safe and within his comfort zone. In class he can worry about noises and movements he is not expecting. But here at home in our yard where he feels safe he shows lots of progress with the game.

I like this video. Tim takes a moment to "think" and then he picks up the odor of the treats in the box and goes right to it. Learning in class how odor moves and pools depending on air current, temperature, even things blocking it or splitting the odor, is so fascinating.

As class sessions go on we were given "threshold" search as a homework project. The goal is for our dog to begin searching the instant he enters the search area or room. So putting the box where the dog will be walking right by, or just outside a threshold really challenges them to be using their noses all the time when we are doing a search. So you can see Tim blows right past the box and goes out into the yard to search the other boxes he sees out there. Just means we need a lot more practice.

In this video Tim takes a quick notice that the box is right there when he crosses the threshold and he comes back around to find it. He might not have caught the odor when he came out of the door. Odor moves in different patterns so it could have been more in front or to the other side, again it depends on air current and temperature and any blockages in air current too.

Another search is the "elevated" search. In an elevated search the odor is most likely not on the ground or even close to the ground, so again the dog has to learn how to try to catch odor by sniffing higher than they might normally do. Beagles who normally are very "nose to the ground" really have to practice this a lot to learn to think differently. In this video the dirty box is in the chair and even has a couple of other boxes blocking the odor from the top. It might look like Skip is aimlessly sniffing around but what he is actually doing is catching the odor and following it back to "source". He has to do a couple of rounds to hone in on it and follow his nose to it. Then it is like magic and he figures it out just like that!

Stay tuned! Class #3 was searching for the food treat among all these novel things. So fun!