Gender Reveal

A few nights ago, I was throwing tennis balls for Toby. One time, I decided to let Rah Ru the tiger throw one of the balls.


In this picture, I am hugging a sock. – Rah Ru

Afterward, I praised the toy, ”Good boy, Rah Ru! Great throw!” Then I started to wonder, was Rah Ru a boy or a girl? Did Toby think of his tiger as having a gender? The idea dawned on me, why not ask him?

Boy or Girl

I gathered up the B and G flashcards so I could ask Toby “Boy or Girl?”. We went through a quick list of humans and pups we knew so I could make sure we were on the same page. He got them all right. I moved on to the toys and asked him, ”Is Rah Ru a boy or a girl?” In case you were wondering, Rah Ru is a girl. (Oops. Bad mommy. )

As for Blue Puppy, Blue puppy is a boy.

Toy kitty with stuffing ripped out of its head.

Humpty Kitty is a girl

Tiger turned out to be a girl too.

Mommy, however, is still a boy.

This exercise turned out to be a breakthrough moment for Toby and me. Since then he has been excited to do flashcards. I think this gives him a chance to tell me things he otherwise couldn’t.

😊

Touch

So, everyone has been practicing doing tricks and training with their pups this weekend, not just eating turkey and pumpkin pie, right?

Geordie at about the age when we did Agility.

Back when Geordie was a tiny puppy, I took him to an Agility class to try to find a way to wear him out. (You can stop laughing now.) For it to count when a dog comes down the incline, he/she has to touch the yellow bar at the bottom with a paw. Most dogs like to jump over that spot, so we were told to hold our hands down and teach the pup to touch our hands as they went past. That would slow them enough to get them to touch the yellow line.

See the source image

Not my image.

All the other dogs realized that they were supposed to bump their human’s hand with their noses as they went past. Geordie, on the other paw, was very literal. If I held out my hand, he would stop and touch it with his hand. That slowed him too much, and he would end up with a lousy time.

For my boy I had to teach him “paw touch” and “nose touch”. Later I applied the commands to a number of different things. If your dog is good at paw touch, a nifty way to use the skill is to have them press down on the ribbon as you tie a bow on Christmas presents. Just for fun, I would let Geordie choose which paper I used on which gift. That was another paw touch moment. He had fun doing that.

Probably the easiest ways to teach Touch is by example. I would sit down on the floor with Geordie and touch a ball and say, “Mommy touch ball, now Geordie touch ball”. When he was first learning, I might prompt him by pointing at his paw then the ball. As soon as he touched it, I would cheer and give him a treat. As the pup gains confidence, you can have him touch things that aren’t immediately in front of him. Have him walk several steps to touch something. Eventually he can go across a room to do Touch. Most dogs will touch things with their paws. The goal here is to associate the word with the action so that you have a command.

As I worked with Geordie, I taught him the names for his body parts. He knew ear, eye, nose, front paw, back paw, fur, back, tummy and tail. After I taught him his body parts, I would ask him “Where is mommy’s paw?” or tell him “Touch mommy’s ear”, and he would have to touch the right body part. The one that made both Geordie and Toby laugh was “Nose touch mommy’s nose”.

If you were looking for ways to teach your pup Touch, these are some fun ways to incorporate the command into everyday life.

Everyday life? Do I look like an everyday dog to you?!

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Dream Our World

Looking for stocking stuffers for the holidays? Then look no more! Dream Our World is here in the country and available for immediate purchase. Loved by old and young, Bitey and Toby’s adventures in Dream Our World are sure to make everyone smile!

How to Train an Incorrigible, Determined, Intelligent Terrier

In case you were interested in how I taught Geordie flashcards, I’ll give a brief overview of what I did.

Initially, I was looking for ways to keep my bitey boy busy. I started with obedience training, but since I don’t like that phrase, I called it ”Doing Tricks”. When I asked Geordie if he wanted to do tricks, he would run to the kitchen to get started.

We began with the basics of sit, down and stay. Later we added beg, roll over, spin, spin the other way, crawl, crawl backwards, run a figure eight around my legs, etc. Pups like these fast-moving, physical tricks. Later you can use them to help the pup focus.

Once Geordie learned those things, we worked on “Which hand is it in?” and Left Paw/Right Paw. When I asked Geordie to touch my ”left paw”, I thought he would touch the hand that was on his left, but he knew to switch for my orientaion. Smart puppies. You can also teach Come/Back Up, Up/Down, Hot/Cold…anything that will help your dog to see that words can represent a variety of concepts.

After those tricks, I worked on Touch games. I would choose something – maybe his stuffed animal Bobo – and ask him to touch it. When he did, he got a treat. If he touched me, he got nothing, but I would give the command again. The next day we might do ”Touch the ball” until he did it well. After that I would have both Bobo and a ball, and he would have to touch the correct one to get a treat. The pup must do it right on the first try to get treats and praise. If not, just give the command again. If he/she still can’t get it, move onto other tricks they know so they don’t get discouraged.

When Geordie had trouble focusing on a new task, I would have him run through some active tricks (run around, sit, down) very quickly then immediately ask him to touch one of the toys. He was near perfect after one of these fast-paced warm ups.

It was after Geordie was used to doing touch commands that I moved onto flashcards. I think our first letters were A and G because they looked different. I taught him like we do little humans. “This is A as in Adventure. This is G as in Geordie.” He would have to touch the one I asked for on the first try in order to get a reward.

I noticed a few things about Geordie as we worked on flashcards. I tried setting the cards on the floor to let him touch them, but it were as if he couldn’t see them. I figured that dogs can’t see things well from that angle. They must rely on scent when items are close.

I also tried hanging the cards on the wall for him to touch, but again, it were as if he couldn’t see them. I don’t know if just Geordie couldn’t or if all dogs are that way.

People loved to play this letter game with Geordie. Sometimes one person would hold up the cards then close her eyes and turn her head away so she couldn’t see what she was holding. Another person would stand behind Geordie and call out letters, and he would still get them right.

These are the stages we went through. I am presuming that if you are reading this you know the basics of dog training like length of sessions and when to treat/click.

How long did this process take? Months. Geordie was six months old when I started with Heel, Sit, Stay and the like. Then we worked on the Motion Tricks and the Touch tricks. He was probably a year old before we tried our first letters.

Working like this really helped Geordie and me. I can’t stress enough how difficult of a pup he was. It took a while but I finally realized that his anger was actually frustration that he couldn’t communicate. Here I had my own canine Helen Keller.

Happy Cairn terrier pup

I was much happier once mom realized I was trying to talk.

If I forgot anything or if you have questions, just post. I’m always happy to brag about my boys. 😊

Geordie Does Flashcards

Baby Geordie was a dynamo with more energy than I knew how to deal with. When I took him to dog school, they recommended that during the winter, we humans get a book of tricks and keep our pups busy indoors during the bad weather. Geordie learned every trick in the book (literally) so quickly that I had to make up new ones to keep him busy. One thing I tried was flashcards.

I didn’t know if a dog could learn to read or not, but I thought I would give it a try. I started out with The letters A and G because they looked dissimilar. I told him “A as in Adventure”* and “G as in Geordie”. He quickly learned those, so I kept adding more.

Again, I didn’t know if he might eventually sound out words like little humans do or if he would learn each word as its own unique symbol. In case it was the first way, I taught him phonetically. It turned out the second way, though. When you see Geordie’s flashcards, it will look like I don’t know how to spell.

I don’t have a YouTube account, so I posted a video of Geordie doing flashcards on my website. Geordie Doing Flashcards. It is at the bottom of the page if you keep scrolling. (In the photo to the left of it, I am holding the cards for “jump” and “kitty”.)

Over the years, we built up quite a huge stack of flashcards, and Geordie learned an astonishing number of concepts. Rather than using “dog language”, Geordie preferred to use English. He insisted I teach him the word for everything in his environment.

Whenever I mention Geordie talking to me or telling me something, I don’t mean a Son of Sam scenario. If Geordie wanted to tell me something, he would poke me in the leg to get my attention. Then he would make eye contact, heave a big sigh, sit down and stick out his lower teeth. At that point I would start asking him questions, and he would either nod yes or shake his head no or he would point to something (indicate direction or gesture toward an object) or he would tap one of those cards. So many people were surprised when they would ask Geordie a question, and he would answer. Around here he was known as Geordie the Talking Dog.

Before I got sick and my world fell apart, I had studied to be an English as a Second Language teacher. I never got the opportunity to teach humans, but working with Geordie allowed me to use many of those skills.

I don’t need words to tell you I like pumpkin!

  • I realized early on that Geordie picked up on English very quickly, so I never talked to him about “Going for a ride” or “Going in the car”. I didn’t want to accidentally perk his ears up. Instead I used the word Adventure which I rarely use in general conversation.

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I Win! I Win!

Cairn terrier stands over slain toy

Yippee!

Mom thought she beat me with that training collar thingie, but I outsmarted her.  She told me I am not supposed to bark, so instead I now groan and howl and sing and talk and yodel…anything but bark.  And since I am not barking, she can’t say anything.  Ha!  I win!

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Thinking of doing some holiday shopping early? Come to L Bowman Studios for some of the cutest Christmas-themed note  cards around.  Why are they so cute?  My boys are on them, of course!

Waiting for Santa

The note cards are 4.25 x 5″ and are made of heavyweight card stock.  Envelopes included!

 

 

Pants on Fire

Was she lying? No, she was chasing me.

Fat women shouldn't run in corduroy.

Yes, this is an actual fear of mine.  With all of the “zrp! zrp! zpr!” and friction coming from these pants, I worry about inadvertently starting a natural disaster.  I am sure the best solution would be to walk more…but then I would still be dealing with the whole friction situation, wouldn’t I?  Nah, better to sit back and have another banana smoothie.  Anyway, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.

I know my boys would love it if you laughed at their terrible misfortunes..