Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Small Steps....

Buzz has gotten the concept of the bark barrel quite nicely by now.  Human goes in the barrel with his toy, Buzz runs to the barrel, Buzz barks LOTS and LOUD and BINGO....human presents the toy for a wonderful game of tug.  What fun!  So now we were ready to take the next step.  It seems simple enough - move the barrel to a new location with new/uneven footing (like you will find in a disaster scenario) and then next, begin to 'hide' the barrel with debris (again like you would find in a disaster scenario).  On the surface seems simple enough, but it is funny how a new environment or context, uneven footing, etc... can really distract a dog or throw them off.  But this is part of the test to see if the dog really has the nerve strength and confidence to truly do disaster work.  Well......I think Buzz passed this test with flying colors.

Thanks to my friend and teammate Matt - who has become quite well versed as a "victim" - Buzz showed no hesitation to get to the barrel and BARK LOTS and LOUD to get that stupid human to produce the toy. :)  It is so fun to watch his confidence build and his drive for the game grow with every training.  If he keeps this up I think he has lots of potential as a future disaster long as I don't screw him up!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Time Flies.....again!

So a friend gave me a gentle reminder and poke - telling me it had been THREE MONTHS since my last blog post/update.  How did three months go by so fast and who stole all that time????  Buzz is now close to having the body of an adult Golden but still has the brain and antics of a total puppy...these are challenging times. :)  But he has also shown some remarkable maturity and focus in his training in the last month.

We have been working the bark barrel to build his bark indication for live find search work.  He has really gotten the concept of "person in the barrel has my toy....must bark LOUDLY and OFTEN to get them to open the lid and play tug".  And of course special thanks to my teammates Matt Noar and Lynne Fehr for letting me stuff them in a hot, dark, and windless plastic barrel when it is 90 degrees outside.  The things we will do to train our dogs!   I am in continual amazement at how quickly Buzz catches on to whatever I teach him or throw at him.  

He has a wonderful confidence and basically does not know any fear...which certainly has its downsides.  It seems the more he can jump, spin, and make himself airborne in pursuit of toys or play the happier he is.  His favorite morning activity is to run outside and do his business, then run laps around the yard while hurdling my landscaping and bouncing off the lawnchairs....which happen to rock and spin as he flies from one to the other.  Of course his version of acrobatic fun scared the crap out of me a few weeks back when he suddenly could not lay down without significant pain and was clearly having intense back pain.  After running all sorts of tests to rule out the scary stuff (thankfully all negative) it seemed he had just twisted some muscles in his back and with several days of rest and some meds he was all back to his 'flying walenda' self.    For all the chaos he seems to create, I can't think of a day that he has not made me smile and laugh.  He just seems to love every moment with so much gusto and nothing bothers him...a lesson I could certainly take note of and learn to apply in my own life.  Even when I catch him chewing a shoe - I go to take the shoe....feeling my anger welling up...and he simply looks up and me and licks my face as I take the shoe away....and any ounce of anger I had vaporizes with his grinning face.  Life is too short to be angry about a shoe, especially when you are so blessed to have a dog like Buzz!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Time Flies

How did it go from February to May so quickly???  I can't believe how fast Buzz is growing and how he has developed such great foundational skills that I hope to turn into an even better search dog.  He is sooo motivated for his toy and will now easily bark at ANYONE to get his shy violet here.  I have also amped up his hunting games, adding odor to the hunt.  He has so much enthusiasm for the 'game' and just launches himself as he starts the hunt.  It just makes me smile and laugh to watch him eagerly start the game.  I am now considering whether or not we want to focus on live-find disaster/area search work given his amazing nerve strength and enthusiasm for people.  I will be putting him through some 'tests' with my friends that really know disaster dog work in the next weeks - so we will see how he does.  I expect he will do really well if his current behavior is any indication.  I could not be happier with this boy...what a joy to train and work with. I wake each day and smile as I let him out of the crate and he tumbles out to greet me with his kisses....ready for the day ahead.  If only life were that simple and joyful for us humans on a daily basis!  Even the most simple thing like a discarded water bottle makes Buzz happy...I guess that is a lesson we all could learn from. :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The game of Hunting

It is amazing how my training approach and philosophy has changed over the years...I owe so much to the dogs that have come before Buzz - K9 Chief and K9 Sula.  I am so enjoying just taking my time with Buzz - letting him 'be a puppy' and not pushing him into odor work too quickly.  It is such a joy to just work on building the solid foundation of his natural hunt drives and a great reward system.  Sunday was a great day to continue the hunt games in a new environment, hiding Buzz's favorite toy in a wood pile with all sorts of people watching him. He was so focused on finding his toy, using his nose to follow the odor and ignoring all the people that were watching him.  All these skills are building such a great foundation for the more directed search work that is yet to come.  Knowing that Buzz will hunt and stay focused on his hunt is such a joy - that is they key to all the rest to come.  I am enjoying the lack of stress and anxiety I am feeling with need to rush him.  He will never be this baby pup again so I am soaking in every last moment of this joy...he will have a lifetime of work ahead of him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Big Dog Training Day

Today Buzz got to join in the big dog training at the rubble pile and he came out of the truck and on to the rubble pile as if he had always been there.  This little guy has no fear and such wonderful confidence.  Today the goal was to just play with Buzz on 'baby rubble' and let him have fun tugging and playing on new surfaces and with new footing.  We played his favorite game of tug and he was all about the usual.  Not much can keep him from wanting his tug toy...not even uneven surfaces or strange environments.  Then he got to learn from the "big dogs" following them around the rubble piles and learning how to navigate the voids and other obstacles.  Buzz had a great time with retired SAR dog Taeryn and his SAR pup buddy Kuster.  It is so amazing to see his level of confidence already.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Every Moment is a Learning Moment

I try to take my dogs on a nice long run/walk off leash at a local natural area almost every day.  Honestly, I think the hike in total peace and solitude of the flora and fauna is as much for me as it is for them.  I decompress, think, and just breathe without the sounds or distractions of the 'real world' - I sooo look forward to those hikes every day.  But my obsession with multi-tasking does not sit quietly so of course I take advantage of the walks as a great opportunity to practice some basic training skills - but in a more fun environment.  Having a second, adult dog that is reliable on her training sure does help - puppies LOVE to do what the 'big dog' does and mimic their behavior.  So I have turned the recall exercise into a race game - waiting until the dog and pup are well out ahead of me sniffing something of interest- I then give a recall and the race to get to me first is ON :)   Of course Sula usually wins the race right now, but Buzz is fast catching up and will be quicker than she is very soon.  Nothing beats the incentive of racing the other dog back to get the treat first!   I also play hide-and-seek games, ducking behind a tree or bush when the dogs are ahead of me, then calling them.  They have to use their nose to figure out where I am hiding.  It is amazing how quickly Buzz has figured this game out.  Of course Sula is a PRO so it helps that he has been able to learn from her at the same time.  But he uses his nose very independently and now is starting to find me completely on his own rather than just following Sula.

I love being able to combine training in such a fun and de-stressful environment.  I try to look at every moment as a learning moment - knowing that Buzz has the mind of a steel trap, so it is in my best interest to help him learn the RIGHT thing...and not the WRONG thing.  :)   I just love watching Buzz learn and problem solve...nothing beats ending the day with such a great training hike!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

First Snow

Today was Buzz's first snow.  There is nothing more fun than watching a puppy experience something like snow for the first joy and elation as they run, jump, dive, dig, and flop around in the fluffy white stuff.  We played with toys and I buried them so he had to use his nose to find them.  What a treat to watch him sniff around and then jump for joy when he found his favorite tug under the snow.  Even Sula decided it was a good day to finally play with Buzz, chasing him through the fresh snow and having a coonhound bark fest all the way. :)