Update on Muffit’s Training

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Muffit and a Toy

Well I am pleased to say that Muffit’s training is coming along very well! He is such a good boy. We had a private lesson last Friday and my instructor was actually very happy with how far he has already come.

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Muffit Calm!

I discovered while training him at the local agility barn, that he was best if he had a clear beginning point and ending point.  So last Friday we tried this with him, and it worked wonderful.  Both his beginning point and his ending point will be a mat.  He loves his mat, has a great down on the mat, and it’s like something that is very clear to him that he understands and can perform very successfully.  And it’s a good calming place for him, too. Maybe if he had one of those mats with magnets it would help him even more! LOL I’ve been working with Muffit at home to teach him to calm down. This picture is of Muffit’s chin in my hand. This is his signal to be calm. When his tail stops wagging and he’s calm, then I slip a treat into his mouth. I haven’t been saying ‘good’ or ‘yes’ or clicking, because those things all bring his drive up. And he has so much frantic drive that I want to teach him to be calm and relax.

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Muffit and a Toy

On his mat in the private lesson he was being much more calm than he has been in the past. We set up a tunnel, too, and he’d start on his mat, go through the tunnel, get a treat off the target plate, and then go back onto his mat.  He does all this in the blink of an eye, LOL, he’s fast but he does seem like he’s thinking about it. And the tunnel was C shaped so that we could use the same mat for the beginning and the end.I was thrilled with Muffit’s progress. And he’s been there before, which helps him calm down, too. But that is okay because anything that helps him be calm, so he can think, and not be frantic, is great!

So flyball is on hold for him for a while. I’m actually not sure if he’ll ever be able to function in the environment. But I think he will be able to do agility. As soon as we start practicing on a weekly basis this summer, I bet his progress will go forward in leaps and bounds!

He is such a good boy.  I love seeing him learn, seeing him relax.  He loves to learn and he’s such a typical goofy boy. He just wants to make me happy and the treat slipped into his mouth may not even be something he really notices.  But we’ll keep giving him treats, teaching him to be calm, and go over all the obstacles in agility.

Maybe we’ll even do some obedience with him. It’s going to be hard for him once he gets in trial environments, though. But I have a plan for that too.  I’m excited for Muffit!

Tatum and Muffit and Agility Practice

I am so thrilled! I took Tatum and Muffit out to the local agility barn today and Tatum did so great!

Tatum A-Frame
Tatum A-Frame

She is a maniac on the A-Frame! Well, no, not a maniac, LOL, but she’s fast and not afraid at all. I thought she might be afraid of the contacts and I’m so glad she isn’t! She doesn’t even need corsets to keep her together! LOL

This picture is from last summer, one of her first times on the A-Frame. She is going to basically have a Four on the Floor. Because she is so straight and square I don’t want her back to be hurt doing a 2 on 2 off.  And I am scared of running contacts because I like being able to catch up with my dogs!

Tatum goes up fast, then down, and lays herself down on her mat and eats the treat that is in the clip at the bottom. She already does it all by herself! I’m so happy. She also has to give me a paw touch before she goes up, so she’ll stay connected.

Muffit did good too but mainly we did relaxation on his mat. I did get him on the dog walk with treats, he was okay with that. He was afraid of the bang of the teeter so we’ll have to work on that.  Otherwise he had his gentle leader on as we walked around and stayed calm. If he’s off his gentle leader then he bounces all over the place and doesn’t know how to calm down. On the GL he is much better!

Anyway, it was fun… I really hope I’m not catching a cold… I feel a bit off now that I’m home. Ugh.

Calm Down, Muffit.

Muffit in the Snow
Muffit in the Snow

Yesterday Muffit and I went to our obedience instructor and had a private lesson. Muffit is such a sweet boy, but he doesn’t know how to calm himself down. He’s like a kangaroo on a pogo stick, he comes out of his crate bouncing and sitting and downing and bouncing and twirling like a crazy dog.

In order to get this boy to do any sort of dog sports, he needs to calm down enough to think instead of throwing himself around without any thought.  And so now I have some good exercises to do with him, and I’m looking forward to see his progression.

The first exercise is to have him lie on his mat, and just hold his chin in my hand.  He’s so reactive that a click or a word of praise brings his drive up. So when he’s still, a treat is silently slipped into his mouth.  When we were doing this it was working great and he was already catching on! And I will intersperse this with shorts bursts of play with him, to teach him he can be high, then he can come down again and be still.  So he can think in a high state, and also to get that high state, maybe, to not be quite so frantically high.

Next we will work on him coming out of the crate. I will have to lure him out slowly, and have him sit. Because when he comes out he’s a bundle of energy bouncing all over the place.  So we will work on control coming out of the crate. As well as restraint staying in the crate with the door open.

Lastly we’ll work on going to  a target plate to get a treat, then coming back to me and sitting in a calm way, maybe with some more chin holding.

I think Muffit will be staying home from trials and practices for a while as we work on these things. He can still go to the dog park… he’s a great dog park dog. He runs out some energy, stays in shape, and he doesn’t get over the top. Okay on the walk into the park he barks quite a bit, but once he’s off leash he’s great. 🙂

Muffit might start learning agility before flyball, even.  It might be more calm for him. I just don’t think, at this point, he’ll be able to really focus or do any sort of dog sports until he calms down. And he’s such a dear. Sometime soon, hopefully, he’ll be able to go on some Vegas vacations with me, to do agility or flyball or something else.  And… I guess I haven’t decided if I should take him to flyball tournaments or not. UGH it’s too hard to leave him home!  🙂

Misundersood Muffit

I think poor Muffit has been misunderstood most of his life.  Fortunately (and yeah I’m tooting my own horn here but oh well!) he now is in a home where he is very understood.  I think this, because last weekend at flyball practice Muffit was being held by my flyball captain, and he didn’t want to be so he was snarking at her… fake snapping.  She didn’t let go, because she understands him too and is good with dogs, so he stopped after only a couple of snarks realizing that it wasn’t getting him anywhere.

Misunderstood Muffit
Misunderstood Muffit

I think in his past Muffit’s behavior, such as being squirmy and twisting out of people’s grasp, as well as the snapping behavior, has gotten him what he wanted and so he’s learned to utilize it.  He is pretty bad when getting his nails trimmed. He will let me handle his feet as much as I want, unless the clipper or the dremel comes out, then he’s a squirmy worm buggy boy and flips all over, mouths me, and does anything he can to get away from me.

So now Muffit gets to learn that those behaviors that intimidate and scare people who don’t know dogs, will not work on me and my dog friends.  And I do think he will learn it quickly.  He’s also learning to control himself more. I was at a USDAA agility trial today (I’ll post more about it tomorrow) and Muffit did so good! He only yapped in his crate for about an hour in the morning, then he was quiet! And when I brought him out he was interested in other dogs, but he didn’t get completely frantic like he has in the past. So I am very hopeful for this boy now!

I am pretty tired this evening, and Muffit is as well. The rest of the dogs are also sleeping too. Even Lucy and Angel got to go on a big long walk with their Dad. I love when the dogs are tired… a tired dog is a happy dog.  Though they dogs really are due for baths, maybe under a Hansgrohe faucet… and baths don’t make them happy! But not today. Tonight is for rest and recuperation.  Especially my old boy Levi. He did such a good job! I need to take pictures of all the ribbons Chase and Levi won me today!

Muffit at Flyball

Muffit in a Basket
Muffit in a Basket

Well, as you might know, I go back and forth about bringing Muffit with to flyball practice or not. Sometimes I think he just has to go, to get over his frantic reactions to the other dogs. And sometimes I think I should just leave him home and work on him more slowly with other dogs.

Well, I’m not really all that good at working slowly with a dog… I don’t have that much patience, unfortunately. And so he doesn’t get worked in the control unleashed manner like, probably, I should.  But I still don’t really get it, and the book wasn’t an easy read for me.  So we are just going along with my regular trainer, taking her advice, and working as we can.

Muffit and Sundance
Muffit and Sundance

I do, however, think he is getting a little bit better at flyball practice. Finally my obedience instructor gave me the word I was looking for, about how Muffit acts at tournaments as opposed to practice. White Noise. There is so much going on at a tournament, so many dogs and activity, that it all turns into white noise and he just deals with it. When we go to flyball practice, it’s very concentrated in one area. The flyball practice area.  And that’s what he focuses on and he has a hard time focusing on anything else.

I am doing some work with him on his gentle leader, which I think helps. Rewarding him for looking at me and paying attention to me. I think this is just going to be a long slow road and Muffit is not going to be quickly fixed anytime soon.  I’m very glad he’s not being aggressive towards dogs. He just wants to meet them and say hi.. to the point where he will hardly even look at me.

At the dog park, however, is he great. He loves to run off leash and play with other dogs and he acts exactly like a normal socialized dog. It’s just when he’s on a leash and he sees another dog when he gets frantic.  And wanting him to focus on a job, or on me, that he has trouble doing. He keeps me active, for sure, so I don’t need a appetite suppressant pill, my adrenaline keeps me from eating!

I’ve been meeting my captain at practice a half hour early and we work Muffit while it’s still quiet. And he’s doing so good! His box turn is nice and high and consistent. And we are starting to put the ball in now too. He kinda doesn’t understand that the ball is pushing out at him, but when it does, he gets excited and goes and grabs it. He does like balls, although not as much as other dogs or just being with me. But it’s a start. He has a ton of potential.  I just hope with time his frantic-ness will calm down and he’ll realize that playing flyball is fun, too. Even more so than obsessing about other dogs. And I’ll work with him, reward him for looking at me, and keep bringing him to practice and tournaments, and see if, over time, he relaxes more!