Dog Blog: Friday training talk -- what's new with your crew?

Photo by Mike Lewis

Use this space to discuss training issues -- brag about successes, lament setbacks, or bounce a question off the group.

I'll go first:

Eddie: Ugh. Poor guy blew out his knee in the snow on Sunday. It wasn't real deep but he was sprinting through it and came up limping. Have I said "Ugh" yet?

I knew this day was coming. He had surgery on his back left leg three or four years ago, and the vet said at the time he'd likely need the right knee done someday. He's favored it from time to time, but he always bounced back. This time, he's not bouncing back. He's scheduled for surgery on Monday to repair his cranial cruciate ligament, which is the canine version of the ACL in humans.

So why do I bring this up in "training talk?" Because he's restless. His mind is active but his body won't keep up with it. He's refusing walks -- and I don't want him taking them. So he has all this energy and nothing to do with it. And it will only get worse after surgery.

So what I'm doing is trying to occupy his mind. Thankfully, he has nosework. I'll bring him in the bathroom and hide the odor in a low place, and he'll gingerly search around for it on three legs. Other times, I'll just hide it on the chair we're sitting on. He really enjoys keeping up with part of his routine.

Other times, we'll work on stationary tricks. He's pretty much mastered his "soft" speak and his "loud" speak. It's a good trick to practice with a bad leg. Occupies the mind but not the body. I've also done shake and downs, but he's not as comfortable on that. Need to come up with something new to teach him where he doesn't have to move.

Lucy: Her "On By" is getting pretty reliable. We have neighbor dogs we pass on our walk every day, and I was having a big problem with Lucy and Jillie anticipating the barking and ending up instigating it as we passed. "Leave it" wasn't working, so I switched to "On By" on Robyn's advice. I was skeptical, but the new command has been working. "On By" means stop barking and look at me as we continue walking. As soon as she does so, she gets a treat. A bark is rewarded by a couple steps back and no treat. She's got it down, but I need to anticipate it better.

Jillie: With Eddie's bad leg, I had to pull him from an upcoming nosework trial and put Jillie in his spot. She hasn't had the chance to work any test situations, so I'm skeptical. But, hey, it will be a good indicator of how she's doing and maybe she'll surprise me. She'll do OK in the box search, and she has potential to pass the vehicle search because we've practiced that a bit. Indoor may be a challenge if she gets distracted, and outdoor will definitely be a challenge. We'll see how it goes.

So enough of my blabbering on. What's up with your pack?