Monday, January 23, 2012

Agility Class Evaluations

As I mentioned in my previous post, part of my new year's resolution is to start taking some classes with Maya. Agility came to be my top choice. I believe it's a great way to stimulate her both physically and mentally, while on the same time work on her impulse control and obedience.

I found a training center about 10 minutes from us, and was told that we'll need to attend an evaluations session before enrolling in a class. So last last Saturday, along with 11 other dogs/owners, we went to the classroom and were asked to preform a few different tests (treats are allowed):
  1. Walk in big circles with the dog next to you, stop and ask her to do a "sit", walk a few more circles, stop and ask her to do a "down". Turn and walk in opposite directions and repeat the commands. 
  2. Ask her to do a "sit and stay", walk away, and ask her to "come". Then ask her to do a "down and stay", walk away, and ask her to "come".
  3. Play tug or fetch with the dog using a toy.
  4. Lure the dog to touch, step and stand on uneven and rocking surfaces. 

Maya wondering why she couldn't play with the other pups

I was a bit too cautious, but Maya did really well, even with all the other dogs distracting her. A few days later, I got an email informing me that we passed the evaluation and will be starting the 4-week training this Saturday. The up-coming "Focus & Motivation" classes will focus on:
  • Obedience with distractions.
  • Impulse control.
  • Shaping exercises to build confidence and foster a fully engaged 'thinking' dog that wants to work and readily offers behaviors.
  • Building motivation and drive (through toys, restraint recalls etc.)
  • Balance and coordination (for both person and dog).
  • Introduction to agility equipment.

I am really excited and looking forward to this new activity. Hope she'll enjoy it as well.

The classroom

Happy Chinese New Year!

Maya had a great day on Chinese New Year's Eve. Though the Niners lost, she still enjoyed the party with all the food and attention. 

She got fish for dinner but we saved a small piece for the next day, because in Chinese tradition, fish sounds like "plenty" and we want to spare some for the up-coming year.

Wish everyone a wonderful Dragon Year with plenty of happiness, love, food, money and puppy smiles! 新年快樂!恭喜發財!

Got two red envelopes

Played with our friends' cute daughter

Had an awesome dinner

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Training Goals

"What are your goals of training your Shiba?"

This was asked on the Shiba Inu Forum and made me take some time to really think about it. Sometimes we are too focused on an individual command or trick, we forget to look at the big picture. It's nice to have a moment to really think about the goals, so we can have a better understanding of what we really want to achieve as well as the purpose. I broke my training goals down to two parts, the necessary ones and the nice to have ones. 

Maya learned how to "sit" the first day home

Necessary goals:
  • Well socialized: We want to be able to leave her at doggie daycare/boarding when we need to travel; or if anything unfortunate happens to us, she can easily find a new loving home.
  • Good manners: So that she's welcomed to friends' homes or wherever dogs are allowed.
  • Bite inhibition: For apparent reasons, plus if someday we decide to have a baby, we can have one less thing to worry about.
  • Tolerate handling/touching: So that we can easily groom her and have stressless vet visits. 
  • Confident: So she can have a good quality of life, not being fearful of new things or anxious when left alone.
  • Good recall: In case of emergencies, and also allowing us to take her to off-leash hikes and beaches.
  • No resource guarding against humans.

Not necessary but nice to have goals:
  • Something to show-off: doggie tricks.
  • Fun activities to do together: fetch, agility, rally, etc. 
  • Pee/poop on command: she got the peeing part, but pooping will be hard, even for humans, lol.
  • No resource guarding against other dogs: kind of hard to train as she's the only dog, but if we plan on getting another dog, this is something we'll need to work on.

Maya graduated from puppy class at 4 months old

So far, I give ourselves an "A-" on the necessary goals, though the breeder should take most of the credit. I always consider ourselves really lucky. Maya came with really good temperament and I was able to be with her almost 24/7 during her first few months to correct any bad behaviors. So even though she's a so-called "hard to train" Shiba, the basic trainings were never that much of a challenge. The tons of socialization during her early months also really paid off, thanks to the breeder who kept emphasizing the importance. We still need to work a bit harder on her recall, as well as her occasional leash pulling and jumping.

As for the nice to have goals, we'll probably only get a "C". Before bringing her home, I did plan to keep going to classes with her. However, after the bad experience at Petsmart and realizing that taking her to dog parks is easier for socialization, we kind of stopped there. It's part of my new year resolution to cut the slack and take on a few more classes/activities with her.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mission Peak

Yesterday evening, we brought Maya on a hike at Mission Peak. We started around 5:30pm, and it took us about 2 hours to get to the top and another hour to get back down for the 6 miles round trip.  The last 1/5 of the trail was really rocky and steep, but the scenery at the top was well worth it. I was glad we brought flash lights with us, cause it sure was dark after sunset. 

We encountered a few cows along the way. Maya was excited to see the first one when there was still light, but we were afraid to upset the cow, so pulled her far away. The other group of cows we saw was at the top of the hills and in the dark. Maya was a bit startled by those "big black moving objects that make weird moos" and almost started to bark. When we got back to the parking lot, we also encountered a big group of deers, but Maya didn't seem to be bothered by them. 

The trail was challenging for me, but seems quite easy for her. However, she did spend her whole day sleeping today. Too bad it was too dark last night and I was trying very hard to catch up with my athletic companions (including Maya), so I didn't get to take any pictures. 

Back to bed after breakfast and morning walk

Dogs Causing Family Arguments

Saw this news online today:
Dogs cause three family arguments every week (English Version)

Ah~ So true! Here's our top 5 doggie disputes:
  1. Who should walk the dog
  2. Grooming/cleaning the dog
  3. Feeding the dog from the table
  4. Whether the dog should be allowed on the beds
  5. Training the dog

Why argue when I'm so cute!?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Maya in Seattle

Although the weather wasn't perfect, we did manage to take Maya out for some activities during our one week stay.  Seattle (and surrounding areas) has lots of greenland and great scenery, if only it could rain a bit less. Note to self: bring some towels next time. Baby wipes just aren't enough when handling muddy paws.  

Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge is a nice hiking trail that allows dogs off-leash. We let Maya run loose for a while, but the road is kind of steep and has lots of zig-zags, so we kept loosing sight of her and had to call her name every ten seconds. We realized that it might be annoying for other people who were enjoying the quiet woods, so we ended up leashing her for most of the hike. The entire trip takes about 3 hours, and the view on top of the hill is superb.


Warren G. Magnuson Park

Before heading back to the Bay Area, the weather finally cleared up for a short while, so we decided to take Maya to a dog park to unleash some energy before the flight. We found this park on Yelp, and after reading a reviewer saying it's a "doggie's Disneyland", we just had to check it out ourselves. This place is HUGE! It's the biggest fenced-in dog park we've ever been to, and it even has a separated area with access to the lake. It was packed when we got there, as if all the dogs in the area all came out as soon as the rain stopped.

Pike Place Market

This isn't really the ideal place to bring a dog because most buildings and stores don't allow pets, but we brought Maya with us anyways. Maya has always been a fan of crowded areas where she can get lots of attention and compliments, so this was like heaven for her. She had a great time there greeting everyone and sniffing all the different smells from the food venders nearby. We should have used her "easy walk" harness though, as she was pulling non-stop during the walk. This place was just too fun and exciting for her.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

First Flight Experinece

We took Maya to Seattle for our Christmas holiday. Though it was a short flight, we were really nervous because of all the bad stories we heard. Fortunately, everything went pretty smoothly, except for the little delay due to the heavy fog in San Francisco on our way back. We were worried that it might be stressful for Maya, but she did her usual stuff (sniffing, pulling, trying to greet everyone that walked by) as soon as we let her out, so I guess it wasn't too bad.

Waiting for security check at the airport

  • Call the airline before booking the tickets to ensure they have space for pets on the flight.
  • Call the airline again after booking to reserver a space for the pet.
  • Health certificate. Long story stort: we just took Maya to the vet 3 days before finalizing our trip and thought we could just call and ask for a certificate. Apparently not. We had to go in for another appointment and spend extra money for the doctor to do the exact same exam and give us an expensive piece of paper, which the airline only glanced at for 2 seconds.
  • Crate: big enough for the pet to stand up and turn around without touching the top.
  • Absorbent bedding.
  • Food/water bowl attached to the crate door.

Found our oversized luggage

At the Airport
  • Arrive at least 1 hour before departure time.
  • Check in at the counter: fill out some forms, pay the fees, and get the boarding passes for the humans.
  • Security check: at SFO an airline personnel escorted us over and hauled Maya back when done; at SEA the security check was right next to the counter so we walked over on our own and left Maya there afterwards. They asked us remove Maya from the crate and checked everything that was placed in it. 
  • Lock the crate: at SFO the security guy came out with those plastic wire ties and locked the crate for us; at SEA we had to ask for the ties and locked the crate ourselves. 
  • After saying goodbye to Maya, we did our usual stuff: security check, wait, wait, wait, get on the plane, take off, touch down, wait, wait, wait, get off the plane, etc. Before taking off, a flight attendant brought us a small paper slip notifying us that Maya was on the plane. It was very considerate of the airline and definitely made us less worried.
  • Picking up Maya: each airport seems to be different. At SEA we found her at the oversized luggage area, but at SFO she was sent to the airline's baggage claim office. Both airports are pretty dog friendly, so we let her out (leashed) as soon as we picked her up. (We had to run around the airport to find someone to borrow a pair of scissors to break the locks. Next time we'll probably bring a nail clipper with us.)

Waiting for our friends to pick us up

The whole experience was okey, at least for me. The only compliant I have is the money spent: $100 each way plus $80 for the health certificate (though I got it done cheaper, thanks to livingsocial), while our own ticket was only $250. However, having Maya with us for Christmas was priceless!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012