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Roll-over

Toby roll-over

The weather has been (intermittently) getting warmer thankfully! It has been so nice to start getting outside more and more as everyone seems happier when there is at least a little bit of outside time during the day (Mummy included). There are still so many bugs going around unfortunately, and since my last post, we had another round of gastro 😦 – thankfully this one only lasted 1-2 days, but still it’s never nice! We have also finally moved our toddler into his new toddler room and ‘big’ bed 5 days ago. It’s been taking a bit of getting used to for our young sir, but he seems to be loving his new-found freedom during his day sleep! We’ve entered the stage of play until crashing where he lies, or in yesterday’s case, where he sat. I thought he was still playing at his table but realised he had fallen asleep sitting up in his plastic chair! Talk about dedication to getting the most out of his quiet/play time… Last night was thankfully getting back into more of a normal night. For the first few nights we’ve left the door slightly open to help him get to sleep (it was the end of the world if the door was closed), but he surprised me last night by asking for it to be closed when I offered to leave it open, and went straight to sleep. This meant I could even have a shower after both boys were in bed (WHAT!!)

Our baby boy is doing really well too, and also keeping Mummy on her toes with mixing day sleeps around. I just about melted into a puddle yesterday though as he smiled at his big brother for the first time! Our toddler was gently bouncing baby’s hand up and down while they were lying on the play mat together, and baby looked up at his older brother and gave a big gummy smile! Mummy just about dissolved into a happy puddle right there.

Toby just loves play-time outside, especially as our toddler has learnt how to give treats now (with close Mummy supervision). It’s become one of the highlights of the day now where we go outside and give Toby a treat, which Toby off-course willingly obliges to. Especially as he doesn’t have to work for these treats from his little friend.

Anyway… back on topic, I’m going to go through how to teach ‘roll-over’ today. This is another fairly easy one to teach and again fun to do. Like spin/unwind, this trick can also be taught both ways.

Roll-over:

  • Start with your dog in front of you with his attention on you.
  • Ask him to drop while still facing you.
  • With a treat between thumb and forefinger, hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose.
  • Using the treat as a lure, slowly move your hand up and around your dog’s head (for Toby’s roll-over, I lure his head towards HIS left side so his head turns towards his left shoulder). If your dog is still following the lure, he should end up lying on his side (for Toby it’s his right side with his head turned to his left side).
  • If he’s still continuing to follow the treat, your dog will continue to roll-over as you continue slowly luring.
  • Like teaching previous commands, your dog’s nose should remain attached to your hand. As soon as he’s rolled over, say ‘YES’ and reward.
  • Once he is confidently rolling over each time, you can introduce ‘roll-over’ or your command of choice.
  • Again, repeat, repeat, repeat with plenty of rewards.
  • The luring hand becomes the hand-signal for roll-over. For Toby, my hand signal for spin is my hand drawing a backwards C from bottom to top.

Extra notes:

  • If it’s too much for your dog to roll-over the whole way initially, just build up gradually – i.e. say ‘YES’ and reward for turning his head following the treat/leaning over/lying on his side/partially rolling over… Some dogs may need some gentle help rolling over the whole way which you can do by gently assisting their legs over (as long as they’re comfortable with this).
  • Again, always finish on a good note.

The next trick we’ll go through will be how to teach ‘BANG’.

I hope everyone enjoys the end of their week!

Naomi and Toby

 

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Spin/Unwind

Toby spinning

It’s been several months since our last post, but a lot has happened in that time! We now have another beautiful baby boy who’s already almost 2 months old! Where does that time go… His older brother is absolutely smitten with him and 9/10 times is very gentle with him thankfully. Having said that, we have had to rescue baby a couple of times… One being when baby was a couple of weeks old sitting in the bouncer and our beautiful toddler was sitting on a chair in the kitchen eating his afternoon tea. Mummy turned around for all of a couple of seconds to press a button on the coffee machine to turn back  just as toddler plonked down onto baby in the bouncer. Quite hard too I must say! Apparently anywhere from Baby #2 onwards must come out ready to be resilient! Mummy discovered how fast one can move when something of the like happens and baby needs rescuing quick smart 😊. Superspeed while Mummy’s heart jumps into her mouth – and stays there for a long time!

We’ve also been discovering that clumsy stage of having a 2year old boy. It feels like he’s trying for the world record of how many times he can fall down or hit his head in a short period of time… Our doctors must know us really well by now as at least one of us managed to get in to see them each day for 4 days. Day 1 with Daddy being sick, Day 2 with a toddler with a seriously split lip after falling off a chair, Day 3 for Mummy & baby’s 6 week check and Day 4 for another toddler check there’s no ear infection or some other reason causing clumsiness. Alongside the split lip, young sir managed to fall backwards off Mummy & Daddy’s bed, fall on a toy that led to a black eye, gain another split lip falling down at Daycare, a couple of other falls over nothing at home and landing straight on his head etc. This was getting to the stage Mummy didn’t really want to go anywhere – on arrival to daycare the following week, we needed to sign a form stating that this was in fact the way he actually arrived. I can see how grey hair might make an early appearance with 1 boy. Even more so now with 2!

We feel so incredibly blessed though. I was just enjoying the moment a few days ago while our poor toddler had a vomiting bug – I sat on the couch with a snuggly toddler on one side and 7 week old baby soundly asleep in my arms, I couldn’t help but think that life doesn’t get much better than this. My heart was so full at that time just soaking in every minute of that time. While I agree parenthood is the hardest job in the world, it is also by far the most rewarding – and only made better when there are such beautiful affectionate dogs to love and love you back!

Both of our black and white kids have been so good with baby’s arrival. Toby is just fascinated with baby while Cav’s interested but will observe from a distance. The challenge is stopping Toby from loving baby with kisses! It’s a bit harder to avoid this with our toddler as he tries to get Toby’s kisses while Mummy’s trying to stop this from happening 😊.

Anyway, onto the next trick. Multitasking becomes a necessity at this time – I type this as I have toddler sitting on a chair next to me chatting to me and baby sitting on my lap with the hiccups. I’ll go through how to teach spin and unwind. We’re starting to get into some of the fun commands to teach. This is a nice easy one to teach but fun to do 😊.

Spin:

  • Start with your dog in front of you with his attention on you.
  • Ask him to stand while still in front of you.
  • With a treat between thumb and forefinger, hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose.
  • Using the treat as a lure, slowly move your hand in the direction you want your dog to turn – for Toby, his spin is towards his left and unwind towards his right. Like teaching previous commands, your dog’s nose should remain attached to your hand. As soon as he’s spun around, say ‘YES’ and reward.
  • Once he is confidently turning a full 360degrees every time with luring, add in the command ‘Spin’.
  • Again, repeat, repeat, repeat with plenty of rewards.
  • The luring hand becomes the hand-signal for spin. For Toby, my hand signal for spin is a hand flick/circle in an anti-clockwise direction.

Extra notes:

  • If it’s too much for your dog to turn the whole way initially, just build up gradually – i.e. say ‘YES’ and reward for taking a couple of steps towards that direction and building up from there.
  • Again, always finish on a good note.
  • Teaching ‘unwind’ is the same principle but just going the other direction.

The next trick we’ll go through will be how to teach rolling over.

Till next time,

Naomi

 

Stand

It’s been so nice reaching Autumn! The days have been getting much cooler and the doona is back out again for night-time. After a nice morning , I’m finally getting to sit down and make my next entry. I realise more and more each day how much a 21 month old toddler is a person in his own right. We went to the library this morning for story time, some colouring and to pick out a book to take home. Machines are a particular favourite of his at the moment, especially ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’. It’s amazing what a distraction 10 minutes of Thomas will do when trying to hang out a quick load of washing! Each time it’s put on, his soft toy, ‘Thomas’ is found, and taken over for cuddles while watching the show. We found a Thomas book this morning and an excited toddler, said ‘TAIN!’, held it close and carried it out of the library. Trying to take the book for a couple of seconds to actually borrow the book was quite a hassle! Especially from a toddler with an iron grip who seemed convinced he wasn’t going to get it back. Once we got back to the car, we both enjoyed a toddler’s version of the story as he ‘read’ it to me in the car. They certainly know how to melt your heart!

Onto the next training command. Stand is good to teach. Again, all you really need is yourself, your dog, some yummy treats, some free time and patience. Ensure there are as little distractions as possible (e.g. in your house or backyard), and once they are doing the command repeatedly, you can progress to areas or higher distraction.

Why is stand a good command to teach? It is very helpful when you’re doing any sort of grooming, giving a bath, at the vets, or just transitioning between commands/tricks.

 

Stand:

  • Start with your dog in front of you with his attention on you.
  • Ask him to sit while still in front of you.
  • With a treat between your thumb and forefinger, hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose.
  • Using the treat as a lure, gradually draw your hand straight out away from his nose. Your dog’s nose should remain attached to your hand.
  • As soon as he’s standing on all 4 feet, say ‘YES’ and reward.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat until he is standing consistently and confidently.
  • At this stage, you can add in a command (‘stand’) WHILE he is in the process of standing from a sit.
  • Repeat and reward.
  • The luring hand becomes the hand-signal for stand – for example, for Toby, I use a flat hand with palm facing towards Toby and move my hand away from his head.
  • Again, with time and practice, you can add in more duration (e.g. wait a couple of seconds before giving the treat), distractions and distance.

Extra notes:

  • If your dog’s getting confused, take it back a step to where they are getting it.
  • Keep training sessions short! 5-10 minutes at a time to keep their attention before focus is lost.
  • If your dog’s not getting it (or any trick) straight away, don’t get frustrated. Always finish on a good note, give your dog a pat, take a break and try again later.
  • Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice and catch your dog doing the right thing, the more he will do that.

 

Drop

It continues to be warm weather everywhere this week from the sound of it! Summer is certainly still here and it just makes me realise how much I appreciate aircon. I can’t complain too much about Toowoomba nights, as they have been getting down to around 20oC which has been pretty good sleeping weather. A big comparison to when we lived in Townsville where we had the aircon on every night for most of the year.

I didn’t mention in my first blog, but we’re actually pregnant with our 2nd bub and are now just over halfway through already! This time seems to be flying by even faster than our first pregnancy did (chasing after our wonderful, but busy 20 month old toddler probably has something to do with this 😊). It’s hard to know how much they understand at this age. We’ll point to my belly and tell him ‘There’s a baby in there!’. He’ll point at my belly, saying ‘baby!’, but then continue pointing to different parts of my body (my legs, my arms etc) saying baby each time, so I don’t think we’ve quite made the connection that there’s just one baby growing in my belly rather than one in each part of my anatomy (thankfully!). We had our morphology scan the other day and baby was very accommodating in showing what sex she/he is which was very exciting (we will just keep that one to ourselves though until bub arrives :P).

Anyway… training related! I’m going to step through teaching ‘drop’ today! Equipment you need to get ready is the same as what was used for teaching ‘sit’. All you really need is yourself, your dog (who already knows how to sit), some yummy treats or another motivator (I spoke a bit about motivators in my entry on ‘sit’), a free 10 minutes and some patience!

With teaching anything new, it’s always a good idea to be in an area as distraction-free as possible, such as your backyard away from people and other animals. Once they have mastered the command in this area, it is good to progress to an area with more distractions, like a park, so you are confident they can listen in various locations.

Drop:

  • Start with your dog standing in front of you with his attention on you.
  • Ask your dog to sit (ensure they are doing this confidently before moving onto drop).
  • With a treat held between your thumb and forefinger, hold the treat in front of your dog’s nose.
  • Using the treat as a lure, gradually draw your hand straight DOWN between your dog’s front legs. Your dog’s head should follow your hand down to the ground. Slowly draw your hand out away from your dog with his nose still attached to your hand. His front feet should follow out forwards and his belly come down to meet the ground.
  • As soon as his belly hits the ground, say ‘YES’ and reward.
  • Repeat until he is doing this consistently and confidently.
  • At this stage, you can add in your command (‘drop’, ‘down’ etc) WHILE he is dropping to the ground.
  • Repeat and reward.
  • The luring hand is what becomes the hand-signal for drop. For Toby, I use a flat hand with palm down and move my whole hand down.

 

Extra notes:

  • You might find that if your luring hand is moving too fast, your dog will stand up to follow the treat instead of dropping. If this happens, re-position your dog and try again moving your hand slower.
  • Keep training sessions short! 5-10 minutes is a good time to keep their attention before they start to lose focus.
  • If your dog’s not getting it (or any trick) straight away, don’t get frustrated. Always finish on a good note, give your dog a pat, take a break and try again later.
  • Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice and catch your dog doing the right thing, the more he will do that.

Introduction and Sit

Hi everyone! My name is Naomi and I am a stay-at-home-mum and a part-time veterinarian. I am especially interested in animal behaviour, and one of my most enjoyable things to do is spending time with our  2 dogs and 2 cats. We have Cav, short for Cavalier, (our 10 year old border collie cross), Toby (our 1 year border collie), Mickey (our 6 year old black domestic short hair), and Winnie (our grey tabby kitten). Toby is the main one who does the tricks, but Cav still loves having his pats!

When feeling frustrated about something (like I’m feeling a bit over finances and budgeting at the moment…), I reckon one of the best things to do is spending time with family, reading a favourite book, spending time with your pets (I love going and training Toby new tricks), or if not able to go out straight away, writing about pets! Today I have been able to do most of these already. I have had the morning with my wonderful husband and gorgeous, although being quite contrary today, 20-month-old son (he has been practicing his wanting something while not wanting that something at the same time). I was also able to finish re-reading one of my favourite books while alternating reading Hairy Maclary books to our little man, and now thought I would sit down and start writing about animals and how I have taught Toby some of his tricks!

Prior to doing any training, it is necessary to be aware of what motivates your dog. In Toby’s case, he is largely food driven! For him, anything usually goes, such as biscuits, liver treats, bread, cheese, chicken. Use SMALL treats, breaking them apart (especially if using something like cheese). Big pieces will only fill your dog up faster causing him/her to lose interest sooner. Now… my vet side is going to come out for a moment, just make sure common sense prevails here! If your dog does have a sensitive stomach only use what you know to be safe, and don’t use too much of something like bread or cheese as this can lead to a belly upset. For example, if your dog is so sensitive he can only eat an intestinal diet food (e.g. Hills I/D), then stick with that!

Every dog is different and while food may work for some, not all dogs are motivated by food, and that’s ok! Find what does work. Other things that may be good motivators for your dog are favourite toys (if this is the case, keep that favourite toy out of reach and save it for training purposes) or for some, even just praising (such as saying “YES” in an excited voice, or giving pats). Toby will do a few tricks for a toy or just pats, but it’s definitely not the same as using food for him.

I thought I would start with one of the most fundamental commands that is usually the first taught at puppy obedience – how to sit. Just for ease, I’m going to refer to what I have done using treats for him.

Sit:

  • Start with your dog standing in front of you with his attention on you.
  • Place the treat between your thumb and forefinger and hold this in front of your dog’s nose. He’ll start to show interest in the treat by sniffing and/or licking.
  • Use the treat as a lure and gradually draw it back over his head making sure his nose stays ‘attached’ to the treat until his bottom touches the ground. Say ‘YES’ and reward.
  • Repeat until he is sitting quickly and confidently.
  • At this stage, you can add in the command, ‘sit’. This needs to be said as he is going through the action of sitting, not before or after as the connection between the word and the action. Repeat and reward.
  • The use of the luring hand eventually becomes the hand-signal for sit. In Toby’s case, I use a flat hand with palm facing up and move the whole hand up.

 

Extra notes:

  • Keep training sessions short! 5-10 minutes is a good time to keep their attention before they start to lose focus.
  • When luring, keep your hand close to your dog’s head. He will follow the treat and if the treat is too high, his front paws may come off the ground instead of sitting.
  • If your dog’s not getting it (or any trick) straight away, don’t get frustrated. Always finish on a good note, give your dog a pat, take a break and try again later.
  • Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice and catch your dog doing the right thing, the more he will do that.