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Soggy doggy in the shower
Mom takes me to the dog park almost every day for exercise. I get pretty muddy since it has been raining a lot this spring. If there is water in the rain garden, I make a bee-line to splash and play with the other dogs. This is especially fun on a warm day. All the parents groan a little because it is kind of stinky, but start to laugh when they see how much fun we are having jumping around like kangaroos. When we get home, mom leads me right upstairs and tells me to jump into the shower. I get a treat for that. Then she sprays me with warm water and sometimes uses shampoo to get rid of the stink. I got used to the shower pretty fast and get two treats when we are done. I have short fur and towel dry quickly, even without a doggy shake! 
 
 
Mom started reading articles about mushing and after talking with friends at the dog park bought me a skijoring harness. Next, she bought a used kick-sled on Craigslist, basically a chair on skis, and started training me to pull it. Mushers strongly suggest starting slow and keeping training sessions short. We started in the house pulling a cloth bag behind me while she sprinkled treats in front of me. At first, the resistance made me stop because mom is really insistent on not pulling on the leash when we go for a walk.  It was very confusing, but she cheered me on when the treats enticed me to pull. The kittens love jumping in the bag and going for a ride. After a few sessions I got used to the bag dragging behind me. 
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dog pulling the kitten in the bag
Next, we practiced pulling the kicksled in the driveway. She lured me with treats and quickly I learned pulling was fun!
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Pulling the kick sled is fun!
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Treats sprinkled every few feet encourage me to pull the kick sled!
We practiced in book store isles with "Gee!" for right and "Haw!" for left and "Whoa!" for slow down and stop. The lakes are not frozen enough yet for safe play, so we all went to the indoor park to pull a razor scooter. I like the exercise and come happily to put on the skijoring harness.  Within a few minutes I learned to pull the scooter. We do a couple of laps and then I get to play. So far, mom plays rabbit and runs ahead of me, but soon she thinks I can learn to pull on command.
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skijoring harness and scooter
 
 
I've been practicing using a ramp at training. First, trainer Lynnda had the ramp on the floor and I learned to walk across it. That went pretty well. Next, she raised the ramp on a low box. I got a little scared as the ramp flexes on the middle fold. It does have a non-slip surface, but the movement makes me nervous. She made sure I got yummy treats and we only practiced a few times so I could process what we did. The ramp was brought out  during the next few training sessions and each time it was raised up a little more. Last week, I went up and down to the 24-inch platform calmly and confidently without trying to jump off. Trainer Lynnda is so proud of me! 
 
 
I love to play games. Mom taught me how to play hide and seek with toys and mittens in the house months ago. We also play "Find Her" with little sis. She hides behind a tree or  bench outside, around a book shelf at the library and recently we we started playing the game at the dog park. Trainer Lynnda advised the command should have the same intensity of voice that mom would use if little sis was really lost. Last week at training mom asked how to get  me to stay with little sis after I found her. Lynnda had some great ideas. Big sis had several days off of school this week and helped by being the hider at the dog park. She gave me a treat when I found her and then told me to sit/stay. After five seconds she gave me the second treat. By then mom was arriving and gave me another treat because I stayed put. I am really getting the hang of it! 
 
 
Mom and Dad want me to walk with a loose leash without an easy walker or other harness. When I was a young pup, I wore a Gentle Leader leash, but I absolutely hated it! I ran away when I saw it and only came when they offered me treats. I pawed at it and tried to take it off, but I was so energetic they knew they needed it to help to keep a hold of me. By the time I turned one, my parents let me wear an Easy Walker leash as I continued my training. As I approached my second birthday, mom's goal was to walk me with the leash attached to my collar without a harness. So she started practicing in the Petco Store where we go to training. Then she started taking me to the bus stop with the leash clipped to my collar. This is actually going very well! However, when we go for a walk I still get excited about squirrels and bunnies and choke myself so she clips the leash onto the Easy Walker for that two mile hike. She wraps the leash around her waist to keep her hands free and prevent yo-yo arm and she stops if I pull the leash taunt. I have learned to look at her and take a step back, but darn it, I really wish she walked or ran at my faster paced speed.  But I am definitely learning what to do. 
As we walk, she stops at every intersection and expects me to look at her. Once I do, she  either points which way to go or offers me a choice of this way or that.  I always have an opinion and signal with my nose. However, once in a while, she doesn't have much time and says we are going back home after two blocks. I dig my heels in and refuse to budge, but once I realize I'm not going to win I agree to go. Sigh. If only I could be in charge!!!
Mom still puts the Easy Walker on me for hikes or public access work, but to go to the car, bus stop, dog park or training she simply clips the leash to my collar. I am really growing up!
 
 
I want to be a good dog, really I do! I've just been feeling so antsy lately. Mom is trying to understanding how important schedules and routine are to me. I had been making lots of progress with self control, but then the girls had two five-day weekends in a row and the clocks changed to daylight savings time. OK, it took about five days for me to figure out everyone gets up later and adjust to the new breakfast and dinner time.  Mom always takes me on a half-hour walk after we put little sis on the bus, but no one took me walking on mornings when there was no school and when mom went with little sis on field trips. I confess, I was begging for treats and whining a lot and my parents didn't like that at all. They even talked about putting the crate back in the hall, but I do settle on the couch when they shut the office door. So they had a pow-wow and Dad agreed to not to give me a chew every time I asked (dang! He was the reliable softy!)  Mom stopped letting me walk away when she gave me a command like "go to your rug," so I resigned myself to chilling with less whining. Mom also changed the time we go for a run at the dog park this week. We used to go in the morning but now go in the afternoon. And then there are these new kittens - my family tells me to "leave that" if they are playing and I get even a tiny bit excited and want to join in. Come on, people, there is a lot going on around here and that makes it harder for me to listen.
 
 
I passed the AKC Good Canine Citizen test this week! Mom and trainer Lynnda are super proud of me. I am one month shy of two years old and have learned lots about how to behave and what people expect of me. Jumping up when I'm excited is still my weak point, but I am getting better all the time. I do best on a leash and if new people engage me calmly. My next goal is completing the training for public access service dog. I am getting close - we have been practicing and socializing in public spaces for over nine months now!
 
 
Mom has been teaching me to stay close to her when we are out. "Side" means the right and "heel" means the left. She wants to make sure I don't pull ahead so my toes won't get pinched by a shopping cart. She holds two fingers by her side to direct me when I forget and occasionally slips me kibble held by her hip. We also practice "switch", which means to change sides behind her. Trainer Lynnda says this will help me stay focused and add distance from a distraction, such as food on the floor. We go to one or two stores most days after the dog park to practice. We also practice turning circles at home and on our neighborhood walk. I am usually positioned on the right of mom at a store.  Mom says "stop" to alert me then says "turn" to go right.  Left turns don't need a signal because she turns her body and I follow along. I love going out to stores and seeing the world. I work hard to follow directions and my skills improve every week!
 
 
Now that school is out I go to training on Sunday. The new dogs get me all excited but I have to work before I get to play. All the dogs practice working with distraction and chilling on a mat while we take turns on our training skills. We practice stepping through a ladder, heeling as we go around cones, backing up, and my favorite, playing for a minute or two and then coming when called.  I'm getting pretty good at it too! Some days we practice coming when called in the store isles and I practice meeting people without jumping up. Trainer Lynnda wants me to pay more attention to mom's body language. Mom "helps" me too much by calling my name at doorways and such, so this week she stops and waits silently until I look at her. I'm getting better already!
 
 
Mom and I went walking at the mall. Some days I'm kind of distracted, but today I was perfectly attentive to mom's movements. She even went into a clothes store and had me lay down a couple of times as she looked at stuff. I don't mind a bit as long as she positions me so I can see down the isle. Mom learned long ago I don't like my rear towards the isle and my face to a wall.  When we were in an empty hallways she practiced turning tight circles left and right. And we practiced backing up. In the middle of the hall I went sideways instead of backwards, so she went by the wall to keep me in position. I did one step back every time she gave the command. I'm a pretty smart pup!