Follow by Email

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Eve!


Hi all, Treasure here!  My Mom has a new idea for blogging in 2014.  She says that each month has a theme assigned to it, and some months have many themes!  And then there are some special days mixed in there, like my favorite, National Specially-abled Pets Day! 
Mom wants to blog each month about the special theme and the special days, in addition to just our regular updates and pictures that we post.  So, stay tuned for some pretty neat stuff this year!  She and I have already met to begin planning our January blogs, and there are some great posts coming, as well as a really GREAT surprise! 
Happy New Year to all our friends and readers out there!  Celebrate safely, and I hope all your New Year’s dreams come true! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Christmas - Paying It Forward

Some of you may know that Treasure is the official spokes-dog for Fluffy's Blankets.  Fluffy's is an organization that was started when a wonderful woman gifted a woman and her dog in need with a warm blanket and a care package.  It's tradition continues.  Volunteers make and gift warm blankets and care packages for animals and their people in need.  The blankets may be given to an animal battling chronic illness, to animals in rescues or shelters, to animals and their people facing major surgeries, or wherever there is a need. 
 
Recently, the organization also began giving Rainbow Bags to area veterinarians.  If you have ever had to euthanize a pet, you know the heartbreak of leaving the office afterwards.  Rainbow Bags provide a small bit of healing to people as they leave the veterinarian's office. 
 
And, sometimes, the spirit of Fluffy's branches out to include those without an animal of their own.  Treasure has been known to gift a warm Fluffy's Blanket to a special resident at the assisted living facility where she does therapy visits.  One recipient told me that she was sleeping better than she had in years when she was wrapped in Treasure's blanket.
 
And, so, this year, Treasure continues to pay the spirit of Christmas forward.  We are far from our friends this holiday season, but making and gifting Fluffy's Blankets has helped us to keep them close in our hearts. 
 
 
As is her practice, Treasure closely supervised the making of each blanket that we made here, and she blessed each one before it was gifted.  This year, we gave 12 blankets and two beds to the humane society where I am volunteering.  The dogs and cats loved their new blankets and beds and wasted no time in breaking them in! 
 
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our blog friends!!  I hope you each had the chance to make this season a little brighter for someone else!  Pay it forward!! 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ways to keep your b/d dog (or any dog!) happy when it’s too cold to go outside!


This week has been bitter cold, well below the freezing mark, and the dogs and I do not want to be outside. But that means only quick trips outside to potty, and not a lot of walking or running exercise. We are all going a bit stir crazy! What to do? Here are some of the things we’ve been doing this week to burn off some energy and keep the dogs content.

Will work for food – when I feed the dogs out of bowls, they are finished eating in about a minute, and then they wander around smelling all the other bowls and looking for more food! If I feed them more food, they will gain weight, which is not healthy for them, and I don’t think they are really still hungry. But they are looking for something exciting to do, and eating is an exciting part of their day. 

So, my dogs work for their food. Actually, it’s more like playing for their food! They have a great time and they get even more excited to play with their food than to eat it from bowls. Making eating into a game means that it takes longer for the dog to eat the same amount of food that they normally eat, plus, they get to move their bodies around and use their brains - all things that are important for their health and our sanity!

We’ve posted about the muffin tin game before. I love this one! Use an old muffin tin (you can find them at thrift stores) and sprinkle your dog’s food among the muffin cups. Then take your dog’s toys and place them on top of each cup to hide the food. I like to use different sized toys, so some can be bumped off easily, while others will roll inside the cup and my dog has to lick the food from around the edges. Then, let your dog figure out how to get all his food from the pan. With some more exuberant dogs, you may need to hold the edge of the pan so she doesn’t just flip it over and then gobble up all the food from the floor! 
 
 


With a b/d dog especially, you can create trails with her meal. Lay the food pieces out in a trail along the floor, using turns and circles to make it interesting. Start her at one end of the trail, and let her follow her nose! This can be played on a kitchen floor so it’s easy to clean up the floor afterwards. If you want to challenge your dog even further, you can lay the trail across different surfaces or under a chair. Just be sure whatever you use will be safe for your dog and she won’t get hurt or scared.

Food toys and puzzles are the best! There are so many different kinds out there now. I have many different types and I rotate them, so my dogs rarely get the same one in the same week. These are good for feeding your dog her meals, but you can also put a little snack inside in the middle of the day to keep your dog occupied for a bit. Sometimes I use just the regular food, but sometimes I toss in an extra special goodie.  
 
 


Keeping food toys already stuffed and in the freezer can be a great indoor day saver! When your dog is getting stir crazy, grab a frozen Kong or other toy from the freezer to keep her content and allow you to get things done. I mix my dog’s regular dog food with some canned food to make it mushy. Then I stuff the Kongs full of the mixture (I recommend doing this step in the sink!) and pack it in tightly. Wrap the Kongs in a plastic bag and place in the freezer.  

Freezing the Kongs means the dogs need to work even harder and longer to get all the food out. They stay busy chewing and licking for a long time. Usually, dogs will sleep after having a good long chew, so when they are finished, they are usually content to relax quietly for the rest of the afternoon.  

Learning new tricks is always fun for me and the dogs. Treasure is learning some new tricks that not only make her think in new ways, but also require her to use her body in new ways. So she is building muscle and getting in shape while we have fun together!  

After you’ve exercised your dog’s mind for a bit, it’s time to curl up and spend some quiet time together! After all, what good is a nice warm puppy on a cold day, unless you are snuggled up together? Soft petting, massage, Healing Touch for Animals®, and TTouch® can all be wonderful ways to connect with your dog and promote relaxation and health, for both you and your dog.

And, with any luck, it will be sunny and warm enough tomorrow to go out and enjoy the walking and running exercise that is so important to us and our dogs! Happy Winter! Woof!
 
 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Have We Listened Well Enough?


Another gem from my TTouch notes:  If we get to "stop" on the feedback scale, we haven't listened well enough! 

How does a dog tell you to "stop?"  There are the more obvious, hard to miss signals such as a snap, a growl, or a bite.  But what about all the signals way before that?  Do we pay attention to them?  By the time a dog gets to a snap, a growl, or a bite, things have gotten way out of hand.  Someone is likely to get hurt, and it is almost certain that the dog will be blamed for the situation going bad.

Why do we wait for the dog to YELL at us to stop before we listen?  Dogs that live in human society often put up with our human-like behaviors that make no sense to them, and that they do not like.  Many dogs don't like to be hugged and kissed and patted.  Yet we enjoy doing those things, so we do them anyway.  Some dogs tolerate them anyway, just because they are exceptionally tolerant dogs.  But that doesn't mean they like it.  And it doesn't mean they aren't trying to tell us to stop.

A slight stiffening or moving away when we reach for them means, please don't touch me right now.  But do we notice?  A dog turning his head away is saying, I'm unsure, please don't do that right now.  But we may think they are just looking at something over there, and so we continue doing what we're doing.  A dog photographed with his tongue sticking out is cute to us, but most likely it was the dog's way of saying, hey that camera looks a little scary - I'm not sure I like this idea. 

No matter what our dog is telling us, there is always a softer, more subtle signal that we haven't noticed yet.  If we wait until our dog is telling us clearly to stop, we've missed a chance to observe some softer signals.  We've waited too long.  We haven't listened well enough. 

With the dogs that we live with every day, we often notice subtle signals.  If my dog wrinkles her eye brow just a certain way, I know she's noticed something that she has cause to stop and think about.  That isn't quite her "stop" signal, but it means that likely she will be making a decision shortly as to whether she likes something or not.  By paying attention to her subtle signal, I can make sure I scan the situation to make sure there is nothing happening that will cause her to get to "stop." 

Living in a multi-dog household, I can often see this subtle communication better when watching the dogs interacting with each other than when I'm actually participating in the situation.  Just a slight movement of an ear or an eye is enough to get the message across to one of the other dogs to "stop."  There is no drama, no argument, no yelling.  Just simple communication. 

Now, if the other dogs had not listened to the first dog's warning, things would have escalated into more obvious signs ... a lifted lip, a harder stare, moving her weight forward towards the other dogs, and then it would progress even further still until it resulted in a growl, a snap, or even a bite.  But no one likes all that drama, including my dogs. 

To keep the peace, listen well enough so your dog doesn't have to YELL "stop!"  Respect her softer signals.  Let her know that you understand. 
 


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Food Toys

 
 
There are many types of food toys and puzzles made for dogs these days!  Here are just a few of the ones in our toybox.  Food toys are great for any dog, but are especially good for blind/deaf dogs.  Many b/d dogs don't play with other types of toys because they can't see or hear the toys, so there is nothing to grab their interest.  With food toys, they can smell the food, so they have something to keep their interest and encourage them to interact with the toy. 
 
Dogs like food and by hiding the food in different toys and puzzles, we can give them something challenging to work for.  Food toys teach problem solving skills, as the dog has to try different methods to get the food to come out.  Giving a dog the mental exercise of a food toy is good exercise.  Mental exercise often will tire a dog more than physical exercise. 
 
Dogs that gulp their food too fast will have to eat slower when eating their meals from a food toy.  This can aid in digestion and prevent vomiting caused by swallowing too much food too quickly. 
 
 
 
Some food toys are easier than others, and it's best to start with easier toys until your dog gets the idea.  For some of my foster dogs that have not had toys before, I even start with a plastic cup or yogurt container placed on its side with a tasty treat inside.  Even with the treat so accessible, some dogs find it difficult at first to figure out how to stick their nose inside to get the treat. 
 
Then I would use a Kong toy and put some loose treats or kibble inside so it fell out easily when the Kong was bumped.  Then progress to sticking the treats inside with something sticky like peanut butter, and so on.  Some food toys have levels of difficulty that can be set on the toy itself so you can control how easily the food falls out. 
 
By having different types of food toys, I can rotate which dog gets which one and give them some variety.  Each toy and puzzle has a different strategy to get the food out.  Sometimes it gets too easy if the dog always gets the same puzzle or toy over and over again - they know just what to do to get the food to come tumbling out!  By mixing it up, they have to really think about it and experiment.
 
Treasure sure does love her food puzzles and toys!  Treasure's favorite food toy?   Why, the one with the tastiest treats in it, of course! 
 
 
 
I prefer rubber or plastic food toys which are easy to keep clean.  The rubber ones just go in the top rack of the dishwasher or can be washed in hot soapy water, as can the plastic ones.  Depending on your dog, some of these food toys should not be left with it unsupervised.  The rubber food toys that I have are safe for me to leave with my own dogs unsupervised, but make sure you supervise your dog the first few times it uses them.  The plastic ones I won't leave with my dogs unsupervised, since plastic is less durable and more easily chewed! 
 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Remember Your Perfection!

What a perfect word - PERFECT!  How often do you hear it in your daily life?  How often do you use it to describe others?

In my TTouch notes, I have written and underlined:  "Remember Your Perfection!!"  What a wonderful image that creates for me, not only for remembering my own perfection, but in remembering that each of us and everything is indeed, perfect at being ourselves.  Below is a cartoon I found online ...

Read that quote below the cartoon again ...
 
If we look at others and expect them to be just like us, we are missing their perfection.  That fish may not be able to climb a tree very easily, but it is absolutely perfect at being a fish.  Look at the fish with new eyes.  See its beauty.  See how it can do all the things that it needs to do to live as a fish.  Marvel at its intelligence.  See its perfection!! 
 
Look at your dog with new eyes.  Does she have to be like everyone else's dog?  No, of course not.  How boring would that be if every dog was the same?  Take a moment to see her beauty, her intelligence, her creativity ...  Take a moment to remember her perfection.  See how in every moment, she is perfectly herself. 
 
Does that  mean that you always like her behavior or her little quirks?  No, of course not.  But behavior can be changed.  Who she is in all her perfectness cannot be changed.  It is who she is on the inside. 
 
Take a look at yourself now with new eyes.  See your perfection!  Remember your perfection!  Remember that part of you that is who you really are.  Take a moment every day to ...
 
Remember your perfection!  




Monday, October 7, 2013

Move the Molecules



When a dear friend's dog refused to walk toward the car, we tried every technique we could think of to get him to move forward.  We tried the best treats, we tried waiting him out, we tried cheerleading and acting silly - all to entice him to go to the car.  He didn't mind riding in the car once he go there. He was just in the habit of stopping dead in his tracks and not taking another step. 

On this particular day, as we were leaving TTouch training in the evening, we tried bringing him out a different door so he was approaching the car from a different direction.  He trotted happily along the parking lot until he got close enough to the car to know where he was going, and then - he stopped dead in his tracks. 

On a whim, I decided to try a new leading technique we had learned that day - moving the molecules.  To our amazement, after taking a moment to think about it, her dog walked all the way to the car.  Wow.  What a break through!  This had been an ongoing struggle for my friend and her dog for a long time.  What happened?  Why did this work?

Many times we get in a hurry and we just want the end result as soon as possible.  We all do it.  It's human nature.  When I focused on moving the molecules instead of the dog, the entire energy of the situation changed.  I was now focused on clearing the way to allow the dog to walk forward, instead of trying to make him walk forward.  I put respect back in the equation by giving him the option to respond or not.  I opened up in my mind and in our space the possibility that he would walk happily to the car.  And he did.

So often in my own life, I try so hard to make things happen the way I want them to happen.  Often they work out the way I hope they do, but sometimes I get frustrated when I just can't seem to get things to happen.  I need to remember the lesson I learned that day from a very special dog - clear the way to open up the possibility of something wonderful happening.

Move the Molecules!

 
 
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Treasure's Newest Project

Treasure celebrated her birthday in style.  She had a spa day so she is looking as beautiful as ever.  The weather was gorgeous Saturday, so we spent some time outside and she likes to lounge on the wooden deck where it is warm from the sun.  She had special food and goodies and we had extra snuggle time and treats! 
 
 
 
Treasure's actual birthday was last Tuesday and we celebrated by going to a new rally obedience class.  Actually, the class started two weeks prior, but due to some unfortunate situations, we hadn't been able to make it.  So, we are half way through and have been to two classes now.
 
Because the idea of rally is that the dog is next to you throughout the exercises, I'm using the solid leash for the courses.  I realized last week that while we do some heel practice with the solid leash, I really don't do any type of distance walking with it.  If Treasure and I are going for a walk, I use the regular leash and let her follow behind me.  If we are going a distance, we use the stroller.  So, last week was awkward for both of us.  Me trying to handle the solid leash for a longer distance while also trying to cue the other exercises in between, and Treasure trying to figure out why we were walking with it differently than usual.
 
So, this past week we took longer walks - thank goodness we had some nice weather - using the solid leash.  My goal is still to teach Treasure to target her shoulder to my leg, so she can take her cues from my moving leg.  But this has been a work in progress for a while and I haven't found a way to teach it to her that makes sense to her yet.  We are making very slow progress with it, but progress none the less.  But, I think I may have come up with a way to do it better. 
 
So, I am getting more short targeting of her shoulder to my leg and I am always rewarding there in position.  If I can, I am helping her into position at my leg before feeding.  And the marker signal helps at this time as well, if I have enough hands to be able to do it with good timing! 
 
Tonight at class, she was walking much straighter and a bit faster than last week, which was a huge improvement, and my handling of the leash, treats and touch signals was much smoother.  It all felt like it was coming together. 
 
I'm unsure about whether we'll be able to do any rally competitions in the future, but we are having fun and learning something new together!  That's the main reason we do any of these activities.  Maybe we'll get to the point that we can do a few competitions in the future.  Right now, the organization is not sure just how to handle our inquiry about accommodations for Treasure's special abilities.  It will take time for us to practice and to see just what works best for us as far as tools and techniques.  Then I can approach the organization again and see if we can work out specifics. Stay tuned for more about our rally adventures!  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Treasure's Birthday!

When I first saw her - on Petfinder.
 
Happy Birthday to my wonderful girl, Treasure!!  Three years ago, I drove to meet her and to bring her home.   My heart already belonged to her, even though we had never met.  I felt her already as a part of me.  And I longed to be with her. 
 
When I first met her, my hands reached for her immediately.  I tried to pull myself back a bit so I wouldn't startle her.  In my mind, I imagined her, blind and deaf, being reached for and touched by someone who she didn't know, and being afraid.  But as my hand touched her, it was immediately pulled in to her soft, white coat.  I knew there was no need to worry.  It all felt right, and somehow, all too familiar.  Even though we were strangers.
 
I never could have imagined what an amazing animal lived inside this fluffy white dog.  Treasure had lived a very sheltered life.  She hadn't been given much opportunity to show the world what she was capable of.  When she came into my life, I had no expectations.  I put no limits on Treasure.  In my mind, there was nothing she couldn't do just because she was blind and deaf. 
 
Treasure took that attitude and has taken off to accomplish things that I never even would have imagined.  She was quickly ready to take her therapy dog evaluation, which she passed with an advanced rating.  And she began working her magic with everyone she met!  She began a career as a Healing Touch for Animals ambassador from the very beginning, coming along with me to many classes and helping the students to learn new techniques. 
 
She has been an amazing spokesdog for specially-abled animals.  We go together to do demonstrations and talks for various community groups.  She is also spokesdog for Fluffy's Blankets, an organization that gifts special blankets and care packages for animals and their people in need of comfort and assistance. 
 
Treasure is a natural at the sport of k9 nosework.  She searches for hidden odor - her nose still works great!  She really loves this game!  Treasure also went on to earn her Canine Good Citizen award, and a Novice Trick Dog title.  She is continuing to work on new training projects all the time.  She is always eager to learn new things - especially when there is a treat involved!
 
Treasure is my stress relief after a rough day.  She snuggles into my lap and I can feel my stress falling away.  It's magic - Treasure's magic.  It's what she's best at!  Just being herself.   Even after three years, I am still discovering wonderful new things about her every day.  She is like a book full of possibilities.
 
Stay tuned for more about her birthday celebration this weekend!
 
Happy Birthday, beautiful girl!  I love you and I hope we have many more birthdays together!
 
My beautiful girl now!
 
 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Aggression!

From my TTouch notes: 
Aggression comes from a place of fear, and is a cry for help!
 
(Note, this is just play, not fear or aggression!)
Behaviors that can be interpreted as aggression - growling, snapping, biting, lunging, reactivity, barking, etc - stem from a dog feeling that it needs to defend itself.  A dog that feels it must defend itself feels threatened and afraid in some way.  Thus, aggressive behaviors stem from a place of fear. 
 
Yes, dog trainers may try to argue with me here, saying there are different types of aggression and that aggression can be learned.  I do agree with those statements, but if we look at some different types of aggressive behavior, they do indeed stem from fear. 
 
A mother protecting her puppies feels that someone or something is threatening them and maybe her.  Threat = feeling of fear that something bad will happen to her or her pups.  She feels defensive - that she needs to chase this thing away.
 
A dog snapping at someone when it is eating a meal or a special bone, or guarding its favorite toy or sleeping space is afraid that it will lose whatever it is that is important to it at that moment.  This is where the behavior can also be learned.  It starts from a place of fear and feeling threatened that it will lose a resource that is important to it.  If the aggressive behavior works and the dog gets to keep that resource, the dog learns how to prevent the resource from being taken away.  But still, the behavior begins from a place of fear.
 
Dogs that snap or bite when they are touched or reached for are not trying to be dominant.  They are afraid to be touched for some reason ... maybe because they hurt when touched, maybe because something they don't like happens to them when they are touched, ... there are many reasons.  But it stems from fear.
 
Reactivity comes from a place of fear and the dog feeling that it needs to chase away the feared person, animal or object, before it can pose a greater threat. 
 
When you feel afraid, your ability to think is decreased.  You start to move over to reactive mode.  The same is true of our dogs.  If you are afraid and someone you trust offers you some help to get out of the situation or to feel better about it, this is appreciated.  If you get no help and you have to rely on yourself to get out of the situation, there are many ways you can react.  You can run away from the threat or you can stay and fight it off.  Often we don't allow our dogs the option of leaving or running away.  Their only option is to fight back and try to chase away the threat.
 
When you see your dog react with behaviors that can be considered aggressive, stop and think about this statement - aggression comes from a place of fear, and is a cry for help.
 
Help your dog out of the fearful situation.  Then review the situation in your mind.  What was it that your dog felt was threatening?  Sometimes this is more than one thing.  When did you first notice your dog feeling uncomfortable and anxious about the situation?   This is when you should have stepped in to help her.  By stepping in earlier when you first notice your dog feeling anxious and unsure, you can prevent her from feeling that she needs to protect herself.  Teach your dog that it's ok for her to leave a situation that she feels threatened by.  If she is on a leash, this means that you must be paying attention to her at all times, so you can leave with her when she first begins to get upset.
 
No one likes to feel afraid.  By changing your perspective about why your dog displays aggressive behaviors, you can be in a better position to help her.  By helping her to feel safer in those situations, you will see her behavior begin to change as her fear goes away.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Make It A Practice

From my TTouch notes: TTouch is a practice ...

I love to learn!  I seem to always be taking a class or a seminar, or reading a new book, or somehow expanding what I know.  There are so many new ideas to try, and new perspectives to gain.  But just learning something on the surface level isn't enough.  Knowing that 3+3=6 is a great party trick to impress your parents' friends when you are in first grade.  That is surface knowledge.  But until you learn to experience what 3+3=6 means in your own life, it can't really help you.  By taking that learned surface level fact and giving it meaning in your life, you can experience so much more.  3 jellybeans + 3 jellybeans = 6 jellybeans!  3 dollars + 3 dollars = 6 dollars and a new toy from the store! 

The same holds true for the things we learn as adults.  We can learn all sorts of cool party knowledge - the facts that impress our friends and start conversations.  But until we take those same facts and make them personal for ourselves, we cannot find all the potential they hold. 

When I'm learning something new, of course I first learn it on a surface level.  But then I try to make it a part of who I am and how I do things.  Some of these things will eventually fall by the wayside because they don't resonate with me, and that is ok.  But much of this new knowledge becomes a part of me and shapes who I am becoming and my perspective. 

By incorporating new knowledge and skills into my life, I must take a closer look at myself and see what changes need to be made.  It's not always easy to change.  Sometimes I have to look more closely at things I would prefer to ignore.  I have to learn to forgive myself for things I may have done in the past that I now know how to do differently.  But this is how I'm able to grow.

I certainly don't train dogs now the way I did when I was first learning.  To begin with, my first dog and I went to a traditional obedience class where we were fitted with a choke chain and I was told to make sudden about turns and yank my dog off his feet to teach him to pay attention to me.  While I didn't like treating my dog that way, I didn't know a better way.  I had paid this trainer money to show me the best way to gain control of my dog, and so I trusted that this was the best way.

Of course, I have learned so much about dogs and how they learn since then.   I now know that those methods aren't necessary in order to teach a dog.  I now have a much better relationship with my dogs because they trust me and I trust them.  We are not training with methods that pit our strength against each other in a constant battle for who will come out on top.  Now we work side by side as partners with mutual trust and respect.

But these changes would not have come about if I had just learned new things on the surface.  Sure, I could listen to others talk about it, and I could read about it, or watch videos about it.  But until I decided to take a look at how I had been training, and until I began to really explore how to change what I was doing, I was not able to make those ideas a part of myself.  Now, this nicer view of teaching dogs is part of who I am.  I cannot go back to the person and the trainer I was back then.  I have changed.  This newness has become a part of me.

Allow those things that resonate with you to become a practice in your own life.  Make an effort to put them into practice every day.  Practice, as they say - makes PERFECT!! 

 
 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Thoughtful walking


 
From my TTouch notes:  "thoughtful walking"
TTouch has shown me a way of teaching my dog to walk with me that is so different from the way most classes and trainers teach it.  It is about connection and balance.  It is about self-discovery for both the dog and the person holding the leash.  The leash becomes a communication tool, not just a way to control your dog.

When teaching my own dogs, they learn about communication and a light leash from the beginning.  Not everyone teaches their dog in this way, however, and a large strong dog can easily pull me off my feet.  When working with large dogs that have learned to pull on leash, it was difficult to try to maintain control while teaching them to walk lightly on a leash. 
With TTouch, I have tools not only to keep myself safe while keeping the dog under control, but now I also have tools to teach the dog’s person to allow walking to become a nice experience for the dog and the person.  These same tools also help to educate the dog about walking on a loose leash and in balance with the handler.

Those two words - "thoughtful walking" - tell so much about the big picture of walking with our dogs.  TTouch teaches us to be mindful of our own bodies and to walk with awareness and connectedness.  Are our bodies tight and clenched?  Or are they loose, aware, and balanced?  Which one feels better?  Are we feeling and connecting to the ground with each step?  Or are we just hurrying through life to get from one place to another?  Do we remember to breathe deeply to nourish our bodies and souls?
From the dog's end of the leash, is the dog pulling and rushing to get where she wants to go?  Towing you along behind her perhaps?  Is she aware of her body?  Is she in balance?  If she is in balance physically, she can be in balance mentally and emotionally as well.  She is able to be thoughtful.  Thoughtful about her body means that she is not pulling and she is in balance when she walks and when she stops.  Thoughtful about you means that she is paying attention and is coming with you by her own decision, not because you are forcing her.

"Thoughtful walking" -
What a wonderful image these two words leave in my head and in my heart.  An image of connection, of oneness, of being in the moment, of lightness, and of awareness.  Awareness of each other, of the process of walking, of the body and how it moves, of the environment, and that we are part of the bigger picture.  This phrase will now forever be part of my vocabulary as I continue teaching people and dogs how to connect with each other.
 
 


Friday, June 14, 2013

Hold the Possibility

 
 
From my TTouch notes:  Hold the Possibility for Change
 
Wow, such a huge concept!  Often when we're focused on creating change in our dog's behavior, we become hyper-focused on what we don't want them to do.  Thoughts and expectations have a unique vibration all their own.  When these thoughts focus on things we don't want our dogs to do, they carry a different vibration than if we think about things we DO want our dogs to do instead. 
 
Dogs are very good at recognizing differences in vibrations around them.  The vibrations we put out in our thoughts affect our dogs and their behavior.  Have you ever noticed when you are frustrated or frazzled that your dog becomes more anxious or agitated?  What about when you are calm and relaxed?  Does your dog then become more relaxed also? 
 
So, if you think about what you don't want your dog to do, she is likely to pick up the vibrations that focus on the unwanted behavior.  This can lead to her doing the unwanted behavior even more.  Instead, create thoughts about how you DO want your dog to behave in certain situations.  See a video of your dog acting the way you want her to act.  Play that video in your mind.  As you watch it in your  mind's eye, feel the emotions of happiness and pride that you will feel when your dog acts in the way you want her to. These feelings and thoughts will create a new and different vibration which your dog will respond to.
 
Focusing on what you DO want your dog to do, also changes your perception of your dog's behavior.  This will open your heart and mind to the possibility that her behavior can change. 
 
Be careful, however, as you create this new video in your mind.  If you become too focused on and intent upon the outcome, you can create vibrations that put pressure on your dog.  Some dogs don't respond well when they feel pressured, just like some people.  Keep your mind open to see how your dog responds.  Don't try to force her to respond with your thoughts or your body language.  This also puts pressure on your dog.
 
Keeping your mind and heart open allows you to be more observant and responsive to what your dog is telling you.  If you are too intently focused on the outcome, you may miss what your dog is communicating with you along the way.  Change is a journey on both ends of the partnership between you and your dog. 
 
Change can come in an instant, or it can be a gradual process.  Be open to that process.  What does your dog need along the journey of change?  By opening your heart and your mind, you can respond easily to what your dog is showing you. 
 
Be excited about, and hold the possibility for change!  

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Labyrinth!

 
There are many TTouch tools that we can use to help our animal friends find their balance physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Notice I am using a harness with Treasure and a double-ended leash.  After our week of TTouch last fall, I introduced Treasure to the harness and double leash.  With it, I am able to give Treasure more information about where I'm going.  She can get a better sense of my speed and turns by me giving leash signals through the double-ended leash and using two points of contact. 
 
TTouch emphasizes lightness in our cues.  Notice my hands are open on the leash and I give the leash cues with my fingers and just a small amount of awareness on the leash.  Yes, Treasure is a small dog and does not pull on the leash, but this lightness also works well with larger dogs and dogs that pull on a leash. 
 
The labyrinth (the white maze made out of pipes) helps me to be more aware when walking with Treasure to keep her and myself in balance as we walk, turn and stop.  You can see me using a few TTouches on Treasure's body when we stop and she is standing in balance. 
 
Surfaces are an important part in boosting a dog's confidence. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I've been working very hard with Treasure to get her to transition from one surface to another.  This has been a scary thing for her.  She doesn't understand when the surface suddenly changes under her feet.  She can't see the change in surface coming, so she has no way to prepare herself for it.
 
I was fairly confident she would walk on the board, since this was one of her tricks we worked on for her trick dog title.  I was not as sure that she would walk on the spongey mat and the white gate.  But she did so well!  I'm very proud of her! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Week of TTouch

Treasure listening during lectures

Treasure and I recently returned from a week-long Tellington TTouch workshop.  TTouch provides new ways of living with, communicating with, and teaching animals based upon trust.  We saw some amazing transformations in the animals and people this past week.  Long-standing behavior and emotional patterns were changed with no force or intimidation.  Animals learned to trust.  People learned understanding on new levels.


Treasure riding the luggage cart at the hotel

 
Treasure playing with toys in the hotel room
 
 Treasure and I made some wonderful new friends this past week and renewed some previous friendships.  While we were away, we celebrated International Sheltie Day with our roommate and her sheltie.  They both enjoyed sharing our chicken dinner and finishing it off with Frosty Paws!  We found a wonderful little shop called Bark!  Treasure enjoys spending her Mom's money, so we left with bags of new tasty treats to try! 
 
 
Mickey and Treasure celebrate Sheltie Day! 
 
Over the next many weeks, I hope to do some writing about what Treasure and I learned at our workshop.  It was a very special experience to learn from Linda Tellington-Jones herself (the originator of the Tellington TTouch method).  I look forward to learning from her again one day soon!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Playing Catch Up!

Once again, we're playing catch up with news from the kids!  Everyone's been so busy - no time to stop and write!
 
Treasure has been busy with nosework classes.  Here she does a vehicle search, and later finds birch in the big plant.
 


We missed some therapy visits because I was sick.  Now, Treasure is in ... the cone!  Oh no!  One of her cysts burst and she won't leave it alone.  So, she has to wear the cone. 
 
I got her a flexible cone because it's easier for her not to get jarred when she bumps into thing.  It affects the flow of air currents to her face, so she is a little confused about where she is and the direction everyone may be going.  While she's not happy to wear it, she is adjusting to it.
 
I know she agrees with me when I say I hope she doesn't have to wear it for very long! 


May 3rd was National Specially-Abled Pets Day!  The white shelties all celebrated with special goodies and extra belly rubs! 
 
Treasure is also Miss May in the 2013 America's Top Dog Model calendar!  I've been enjoying her beautiful spring photo all month!
 
 
 
 





Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Happenings

It's Spring!  Or at least that's what the calendar says ...
 
We are expecting accumulating snow tonight and the weather has been cold and windy.  We've had snow flurries in the air.  But the robins are back and I've heard birds singing early in the morning, so I am holding out hope that the spring weather will soon follow!
 
Treasure continues to do therapy visits, except when I am sick and need to stay home to avoid infecting everyone.  Today we spent the afternoon at the pet expo.  Treasure LOVES the pet expo!  She gets admired and pet by so many people, gets to meet and greet friendly dogs, and I usually buy her some special treats while we're there.  She met potbellied pigs, alpacas, a big tortoise, and reptiles.  There were bunnies and cats and birds and other small critters.  We always hand out cards and do a lot of talking to educate people about merle/merle breedings and about the wonders of dogs with different abilities! 
 
Treasure with alpacas at pet expo.

Earlier in the month, the dogs joined me as helpers at the Healing Touch for Animals workshop.  Treasure and Owen are well-seasoned helpers, and Jazzy and Vegas went along as newbies.  Jazzy attended one workshop last year when she was a puppy, but this was Vegas' first time.  He was very good for a very long day.  He's six months old now, so I was impressed that he was able to entertain himself for the whole day.
 
Owen (using toy as pillow), Jazzy, Treasure (nose poking out of pen) and Vegas (looking other way) - at HTA workshop, just hanging out in their pen waiting for some action.

Vegas, six months old

Vegas graduated from puppy class this month!  I'm trying out a new approach to teaching him k9 nosework.  I'll talk more about that as I see how it goes!  Vegas is learning new tricks.  He can go through a tunnel, spin right and left, and can shake hands.  He loves to give kisses, but doesn't quite do it on cue yet.  We're working on roll over.  It's hard to believe that he's only been here for about 8 weeks!  He fits in so well here, it seems that it's been so much longer! 
 
Happy Spring!
 
 


 
 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vegas update

It's been a busy week for Vegas!  He had his first puppy class Tuesday night.  He showed me some really nice responses to his sit and down touch cues.  I wasn't expecting that and was pleasantly surprised!  I'm using the same signals that I use with Treasure for now - touch on top of his tail means sit, three quick taps on his front toes means lie down.  A quick double tap on top of his whithers is his marker/clicker signal.  To play the name game, I use blowing lightly on him and then reward him looking in my direction.  I just introduced this at class, but he caught on quickly.  We worked on him keeping the leash loose, which hasn't been an issue for him, and he did a little bit of laying quietly on his mat. 

 
 
At home, we are working on luring spin and twist, putting two front feet up on an object, shaking hands, and grabbing his collar for a treat.  We do a lot of training in the bathroom!  There is a necessity for me to be in the bathroom several times each day, and it is a small room with few distractions.  Taking Vegas to the bathroom with me allows me to keep an eye on him, but also affords me a few minutes alone with him without the other dogs around.  I keep his treats cut up in a baggie in the fridge so I can just grab the bag.  This allows me to get in several short training sessions every day. 
 
I find myself expecting him to see things.  Maybe it's because he has visible eyes?  Maybe it's because he can see some?  Whatever the reason, I try to lure him or expect him to see and respond, and then I'm surprised when he doesn't.  He can see and quickly respond to my hand moving up or down right in front of his face, but cannot usually locate my hand held a foot from his face while I'm trying to lure him.  I need to start the lure at his nose for him to smell and then get him to move after it. 

 
 
He still jumps on me a lot.  I think perhaps it helps him to keep track of where I am in space. I am trying to always reinforce him for keeping all feet on the floor.  He comes near me and offers a sit, but then turns his head back and forth looking up, trying to find me.  Often he is looking in a different direction.  But he gets around so well that most of the time it's hard to realize that he has trouble seeing.  He's quick to follow any movement, but he sees it, goes in its direction, and then is sort of lost until he gets close to the object.  If the movement stops, he searches until he finds it. 
 
Jewell left for the next step of her journey this week, heading to her new home in Maine.  Vegas looked for her a bit the first night.  I had done a good job making sure they had one-on-one time, though.  He is very content now, whether alone with me or with the other dogs.  He is playing with toys more now and is beginning to understand how to play the tug game with me.  The other dogs are including him more in their games, and I see them adapting their games so he can join in.  They run slower and stay closer to him to keep him interested in the game.  They play some games with him much more gently than they do with each other. 
 
Vegas has been here almost one month.  He's really fitting in well here and learning oh, so much!  

Nosework Class Photos

Some pictures from nosework class yesterday with Treasure ...



Hide is in front grill.  Feeding her at source.

Practice ORT - birch

Hide in hanging lantern. Food and tennis ball distractions hidden under pink tarp.

Hide in crack in floor mats




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Socialization

I've spent the past two weeks trying to socialize two puppies.  I've had many dogs and puppies come through my home.  I know the value of early socialization, but I am also amazed at some of the dogs I've fostered that have never left their home and backyard that are very stable and well-socialized dogs.  Then there are the dogs that have lived their lives in solitary cages and they are frightened by literally everything!  One of my dogs that had extensive and careful socialization since birth has grown up to be sensitive to noises and strangers.  It seems that there must be more to socialization than just exposing your puppy to anything and everything as young as possible.
 
I've tried to get each puppy some individual socialization as well as socializing them together.  Much socialization can be done at home.  Socialization is getting your dog used to novel stimuli, so they see there is nothing to fear.  Dogs are naturally cautious of new things.  The more new things they learn to trust, the more trusting they will become of novel stimuli.
 
Vegas
At home they have learned to use food dispensing toys, to eat out of different types of dishes, to eat in a crate and in different rooms.  They have been exposed to new and different surfaces, toys and bones with different textures, obstacles to go through, over and around.  They have been exposed to dogs of different breeds and ages, learning to respect that the older dogs may not want to play, and learning about the different play styles of each dog.  They have been exposed to sunglasses, big floppy hats, bulky coats and gloves, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, noises, men, women and children.  They are never forced to investigate or interact.  They are free to leave the situation if they feel overwhelmed, to stand at a distance and observe if they feel like it.  Then, when they are feeling more comfortable, they come to investigate on their own.  They will normally leave and come back over and over again until their curiosity is quenched and they realize there is nothing else to be concerned about. 
 
In public, I've chosen low key places to take them when I have plenty of time to allow them to observe and approach as they are ready.  Although I have always been careful not to push my puppies past their comfort levels, I have done some things in the past that may not have been in my puppies' best interests.  When carrying a small puppy into new environments, he may ride quietly in my arms leading me to the mistaken impression that he is not concerned with the environment around him, letting others pet him and coo to him.  But in reality, he doesn't feel like he has any escape if he's not comfortable.  When walking with a puppy, using food to lure him to come closer is not the best approach either, but it is one I have used in the past.  Has it gotten the puppy to come closer?  Yes, often it does, but he is not coming closer because he feels comfortable.  He is coming forward only for the food, and we often don't take the time to notice the difference.
 
This time I am doing things differently.  I am not taking the puppies to places where I need to get someplace on a schedule.  I am not taking them anyplace where I cannot just sit and watch with them if that's what they want to do.  Socialization is not about my agenda and what I want them to be exposed to.  Socialization is completely about each individual puppy's agenda and how he/she feels at each given moment.  Only the puppy can tell us if we are on the right track.  We must make each outing just about the puppy.  Usually in public, the puppy must be on a leash.  The leash prevents him from moving away and creating more space between him and something or someone that he is concerned about.  We must be aware at every moment about what our puppy is telling us.
 
Jewell is bolder about jumping into new situations and will often barge right in to see what's going on.  This could give me a false sense of security that she is comfortable with each situation.  Once she's in that situation, however, she wants to take a quick survey of the situation and then she may want to back off and watch for a little bit before barging back in.  Sometimes she stays for awhile and then decides it's time to leave and take a break.  If she is greeting someone and then moves away from that person, it is not by accident.  She is telling us that she needs a break.  It is not fair to allow the person to continue to follow her, forcing her to interact.  Nor is it fair for me to pull her back to the person with the leash, also forcing her to stay closer than she is comfortable.  Instead, I make a comment to the person that she wants to go sniff over there now, and I go with her.  My comment helps to appease the person a bit while we walk away.  She may then decide to seek that person out again in a moment or two, or she may not.  Either is fine.
 
Vegas, perhaps because he doesn't see much at all, is a bit more cautious.  He is a follower and if I have other dogs along, he will follow them into the situation if they are comfortable with it.  When he is alone, he is hesitant to walk into new situations where there is a surface change or if the color of the surface changes.  I need to be able to take the time to sit down at those thresholds and let him decide to come with me on his own, rather than trying to force him to come with me.  He is always so proud of himself when he figures it out!  In a new environment, he prefers to watch from my arms at first.  I don't allow anyone to interact with him at this time.  I just hold him while he looks around and becomes familiar with the new smells and sensations.  When he's ready, I put him on the ground and we just stand.  I wait.  When he is ready, he will begin to move around sniffing everything.  At that point, he usually goes very quickly in this direction and that, and I follow him as long as it's safe to do so.  I don't let him get into a situation that could be dangerous for him.  I instruct people who want to greet him to kneel down to his level.  I explain to them that he doesn't see very well, so they should wait for him to approach them.  Once he approaches them, I ask them to pet him gently under the chin on his chest. 
 
Jazzy was a super outgoing puppy.  I never saw anything worry her at all.  She was always very gung ho to greet anything and anyone in her environment!  When she went through adolescence, she became very cautious and fearful of people and new situations.  I knew that this can often happen with puppies of that age, but I still found myself getting concerned and wanting to step up or force socialization opportunities.  I wanted to fix the issue.  I had to make very conscious decisions to tell myself to just ride it low.  I did not hide Jazzy away during this time, but I kept everything low key.  I listened to her when she was overwhelmed and when necessary even removed her from certain situations.  Now, at a year and a half, she is becoming her more outgoing, social self.
 


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Introducing Vegas and Jewell!

Vegas (left) and Jewell (right)
 
I've been trying to sit down and blog for the past week, but these new puppies are keeping me busy!  I'm a bit biased perhaps, but there is hardly anything cuter and sweeter than sheltie puppies.  These two babies are very large for sheltie puppies, and I need to keep reminding myself that they are still babies.  The fact that there are puppy teeth falling out all over the place helps a bit with that!  But they are the same size as my largest adult shelties and they are 4 months old!  Vegas and Jewell are double merle littermates.
 
Vegas is deaf and appears to be mostly blind.  Although he compensates so well that often I begin to second guess my assumptions!  It is a pleasant surprise that he is able to see even a little bit, as we were told that he was completely blind and deaf before he arrived.  He appears to be able to see large shapes and movement.  He has trouble pinpointing and tracking movement and will often startle at a movement and then look for it in the wrong place. 
 
He can't seem to differentiate between shapes.  If I stand still near anything else, he loses track of me.  His left eye seems stable.  The pupil is small and facing downward.  The right pupil is quite large and pointed upward, yet his eye drifts and shifts and is often partially covered by the third eyelid.  He squints excessively in sunlight.
 
Jewell seems to be functionally deaf, although she may hear some loud noises and dogs barking.  She doesn't appear to be able to locate those sounds, however.  I don't think her eyesight is normal, but she seems to see well.  She tracks movement and can see hand signals.  She loves to chase toys and the other dogs.  She also loves to jump onto and off the furniture!  She can look around the room and see where I am, which Vegas cannot do.
 
 
 
A couple weeks ago, these two babies were brought to the attention of sheltie rescues nationwide.  Through the network of rescues and their dedicated volunteers, these two babies embarked on a four-day transport journey from Nebraska to Pennsylvania.  I am totally amazed at the dedication of the rescue groups that I'm associated with.  Thank you to all the rescues and volunteers who helped get these puppies on their way to their new lives! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Quality of Life for Blind and Deaf Dogs

 
 
I received a lot of great ideas for new blog posts - Thank you so much for those.  I'm always looking for ideas to write about that will be useful to each of you as readers.  One idea that truly intrigued me was to discuss what quality of life a blind and deaf dog can have.  I think it caught my interest because I had never thought about my dogs not having a good quality of life.  I began to think about how we measure quality of life and why.
 
I have had many dogs in my life over the years, and there have been times when I have made the decision to euthanize them when they no longer had a good quality of life.  Of course, this was always based on my opinion, the veterinarian's opinion, and the fact that I knew those dogs very well.  Pain is perhaps the biggest reason I would make this decision.  If the pain could not be controlled and if it was affecting the dog's daily activities.  If she no longer showed any interest in the activities that she used to love - then, in my opinion there is a loss of quality of life.
 
But now, I wonder, how do others measure quality of life.  Why would people think that blind/deaf  dogs don't have a good quality of life?  And were they seeing something that I was not?  I searched the internet, hoping to find some ideas.  I found this quality of life scale on a veterinary site.
 
I'm going to use some of the ideas that are mentioned there to address my own blind/deaf dogs.  Of course, every situation is different, so I can't make any recommendations as to the quality of life for all blind/deaf dogs.
 
The first consideration is pain level and ease of breathing.  This is more of a health related issue that would not be dependent upon the dog's ability to see or hear.  My dogs are healthy and pain-free at the current time.
 
The second and third sections pertain to eating and hydration.  My dogs are able to eat and drink normally on their own.  They are a good weight.  Again, this seems like more of a health related issue.
 
The next section is about hygiene.  My dogs have no difficulty staying clean (although they do like to roll in the mud sometimes!)  They have no open and oozing sores.  Treasure does have many skin cysts, but they are not dangerous and don't cause her any discomfort.  The vet and I keep an eye on them in case they change.
 
 
 
The next consideration is happiness.  I think maybe this is one that most people wonder about with a blind/deaf dog.  The questions suggested on the scale are: does the dog express joy and interest? Is the dog responsive to things around her?  Is the dog depressed, lonely, anxious, bored or afraid?  Can the dog be included in family activities or is she isolated?
 
My dogs are all members of the family.  We spend a lot of time together as a family group.  They certainly express joy and interest in the activities going on around them.  They wag their tails.  They play.  They seek out affection.  They are responsive to things going on around them, reacting to air currents changing, movement and vibration, smells, the actions of other family members.  My dogs are not depressed or anxious.  I have no questions that my dogs are happy and content, and I do work hard to keep them that way.
 
Mobility is next.  My dogs have no problem with getting around.  I do manage the environment to keep them safe, but there is really not too much to do once the environment is set up safely for them. 
 
The last section says that there are more good days than bad.  For my dogs, each day has more good in it than bad.  Keeping my dogs enriched and happy is a huge part of my responsibility as a dog owner.  If I was not able to give my dogs what they needed, it might mean that I was not the most suitable home for them, but it would not necessarily mean that my dogs had a bad quality of life and should not live.
 
I can honestly say that my blind/deaf dogs have a wonderful quality of life.  Some people think that a blind/deaf dog can't possibly have a good quality of life.  They wonder what enjoyment a dog can possibly get out of life if she can't see and hear.  But dogs live in a world full of so  much more than sights and sounds.  Their lives are rich in smells and vibrations.  A dog that is born blind and deaf never learns to rely on her sight and hearing.  She doesn't know that she's any different.  She learns from the time she is born to explore and enjoy her world. 
 
Even my older dogs that have lost their sight and hearing from age, are still enjoying their lives.  Sure, there is an adjustment period where they may have to learn to rely on other senses and to do things a bit differently than they are used to.  That is to be expected.  But they still enjoy their walks and belly rubs and mealtimes.  They love to sniff around in the yard and find something to roll in.  They may even still enjoy that favorite bone. 
 
I hope the quality of life scale may be of good use to you, and thank you for the wonderful suggestion for this post.  It caused me to stop and think about what quality of life means, not just to me, but to others.  I hope that anyone who questions my dogs' quality of life watches the videos of Treasure and Jasmine and sees them having fun in all activities.  I hope we can change minds to realize that those with differences are not bad or to be thrown away.  When given the chance, they can blossom and teach us so much - and, they can have wonderful quality of life. 
 
 
 
 


Friday, January 4, 2013

Quote to share


 
"My disability will always be a piece of me, but if it's the only part of me you
recognize, then you've only scratched the surface of who I am."
 
 
 
 
The above quote was shared with me by a friend through a friend.  We have no idea who is the originator of the quote - if you know, please do comment and let me know so I can give him/her credit. 
 
What struck me most about this quote, is that it says so well what I try to impress upon people when they first meet Treasure.  Yes, she is blind and deaf.  There is nothing that anyone can do to change that.  But there is so much more to know about her than that.  She is an amazing animal, not because she is blind and deaf, but because of who she is.  It is only when you take the time to get to know her that you realize the depth of her presence.  Thank you Pam and Mike for sharing this wonderful quote with Treasure and I. 
 

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wow! How does she do that?!

 
 
This is a post to accompany the release of Treasure's Novice Trick Dog (NTD) title video.  Treasure completed 16 new tricks from the list of novice tricks provided.  I had to choose tricks which I felt Treasure would be able to do.  Some of them had to be modified slightly to assist her with her special abilities.  Here are the tricks we show on the video:
 
  1. Come when called:  I taught Treasure to follow my breath when I blow towards her gently.  Indoors this is rather easy unless the heat or air conditioning has just kicked on and I am near a vent which blows the air currents (and my breath) all around while I'm calling her.  Outdoors this can be trickier with various breezes also blowing my breath off course.  But we enjoy practicing and playing hide and seek outdoors.
  2. Lie down:  When I tap her front foot several times, Treasure knows I want her to lie down.
  3. Sit:  When I keep my hand on her rump for a duration, she will sit.  Sit started out to be a difficult position for her since she had some back issues when I adopted her.  Now she sits easily, but will often pause to process the touch cue before sitting. 
  4. Spin:  Treasure can spin in both directions.  This was actually important therapy for loosening up the muscles in her back.  She will spin a circle in the direction of the hip I tap.
  5. Stay:  Treasure does a nice down stay and a paws up on an item and stay.  Stay was a tricky one to teach her, as she really wanted to go with me and keep tabs on where I was ... especially since during training, I often have treats nearby! 
  6. Loose leash walking:  I can walk Treasure on a loose leash and she will usually try to follow behind me so she can keep track of me.  I can also walk her on a solid leash for heeling and to keep her next to me more formally. I taught her leash cues which allow me to communicate to her when I start, stop and turn with minimal pressure on the solid leash.
  7. Roll out a carpet:  Treasure can roll out a carpet mat.  I started this trick by placing food every few inches inside the rolled up mat so she could find them easily without pushing very much.  Now she will unroll the entire mat for a reward only at the very end from inside the mat.
  8. Shake paw:  When I tap the back of her front leg, she will lift it for me to grab it and shake it.  She cannot see to put her own paw into my hand, but she lifts it and waits for me to take it.
  9. Balance beam:  Treasure can walk on a balance beam placed only a few inches above the ground.  I'm sure she could do it higher up, but there is really no need.  She doesn't know how high up she is and if she does misstep, there is no reason to put her in danger.  She can do it off leash, but she has more confidence when she can feel me through the leash and she goes faster and straighter. 
  10. Find hidden treats:  This was already a favorite game of Treasure's!  For the video, I used boxes because of the limited range of the camera on the tripod, but she can find treats hidden anywhere - up on shelves, under the couch, etc.
  11. Paws up on an object:  Treasure really likes to do this one.  She will put her paws upon boxes, upside down bowls and containers, my legs, on a yoga ball, etc.  My cue is swiping my open hand from her chest up to her chin.  Tapping the object sometimes helps her to locate it, but not always.
  12. Which hand has the treats:  Another finding treats game!  This time I hold both hands out as fists.  Only one fist has the treats and she has to smell both hands to find which one has the treats.
  13. Crawl:  Treasure can crawl fairly quickly for a longer distance if I have a food lure in my hand held in front of her.  She knows not to stand up until I release her, so will stay down and crawl towards my hand.  Without the lure, she will crawl, but slower and only a few creeps at a time with a pause for more direction from me.  My cue is swiping my fingers off her front toes and tapping the ground ahead of her.  She also can crawl under items like the stuffed dog in the video or under my bent legs.
  14. Going through a hoop:  I am very impressed with Treasure for learning this one.  She goes through the hoop on the floor.  I added streamers to the hoop so she could tell the inside of the hoop from the outside by feel.  She will often poke her nose into the streamers, then into the air around the outside of the hoop to define for herself where the hoop is before coming through.  She will also follow my hand through the hoop with a follow me cue which is a swipe forward under her chin. 
  15. Muffin tin game:  This is a fun one.  Put treats into a muffin tin and then cover the treats with tennis balls and other toys.  Treasure has to find the treats and then figure out how to remove the toys so she can get to the treats.
  16. Doggie pushups:  This combines two cues together - sit and down.  It took some practice to get Treasure to pop up into a sit from the down position.  I used the same sit cue but added a light tap and she seemed to get the idea.  I still reward in between each position change because I don't want her learning to pop back and forth between them just because she wants a treat.  That could ruin my sit and down for other activities like rally.
See the trick video here!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPAz_44uSzk