Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The third part of TTouch is groundwork, which is slow movements over, around, and through obstacles. Groundwork looks easy, but it is very challenging! One of the hardest parts is slowing ourselves and our dogs down. We both are used to moving through at a quick pace, and even if we can slow ourselves down we still have to ask our dogs to slow down with us!

Groundwork works by bringing body awareness through deliberate movement. The obstacles sometimes involve smaller movements like walking, but some obstacles involve larger body movements such as high left lifts, turning the body around weave cones, or extending the body to step over a caviletti.  Dogs sometimes do groundwork while wrapped to help make more connections in the body and bring awareness to certain areas. For anxious or over-excited dogs this can help calm the brain and body. For dogs experiencing a disconnect, such as loss of hind end awareness in older dogs, helping a limb recover after a period of disuse due to injury, or even for a dog that doesn't move in a smooth, sustaining fashion, groundwork can assist them in reconnecting.

TTouch is all about achieving balance, and groundwork is no different. Groundwork is done using a two-point-attachment leash, which you can read more about here. So with Cody in a harness using two points of contact, he and I started our groundwork under Lori's tutelage.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Guilt Trip

Nathan the Pixie-Bob
This week I'm petsitting a couple wonderful kitties. They live only a couple miles from work, so I drive over on my lunch time. It's a bit of a race making sure food, water, and litter box are taken care off, then its time to sit down and give the kitties some loving. With their Momma spending some time in Hawaii both boys have settled for my attention until they can get the real deal again!
Baxter the Snowshoe.
While I enjoy taking care of these sweet boys, it does have an impact on my pack. I try and always give the kitties 15-20 minutes of attention, and the dogs 15-20 minutes of walks in a nearby park. 
Disgruntled because I stopped petting him.
Baxter is a little more shy.
Sometimes my timing is off, and I only have a 10-15 minutes left after the kitties. This gives me two options - go back to work and try to get them out for a rapid potty break, or stop by the All the Best close to work for a treat run.

One day last week that is exactly what we did! I was running late, so we took a Guilt Trip to the store! Each dog got treats for some stimulation in the car since I didn't have time for the walks.
Cody REALLY had to pee.
Phew, finally some grass to wee on!
"I'm good, lets head in to the store!"
Sappho is the first to love on a staff member.
Not to be outdone, Cody jumps up for kisses.
And finishes with a butt scratch.
 After getting some much welcomed loving, we grabbed out treats and raced back to work. While this was a Guilt Trip, it still was a controlled, positive experience and the dogs got treats that are both healthy and fit into their daily diet. Not all Guilt Trips are bad!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

All Wrapped Up

TTouch has three main components - non-habitual touch, body wraps, and groundwork. Last post talked about some of the non-habitual touch, and today is about body wraps! As with all three components, this is but a tiny overview. Lori Stevens does amazing seminars and I cannot reccomend them enough for learning TTouch. I am such a big believer in her work that Cody will be seeing her twice in May for hour long sessions - and the only reason we haven't seen her already is because Lori books up fast!
"Lori, what is foster mom doing to me?"
Wrapping is taking ace bandages or sewing elastics and wrapping them  in specific patterns on the dog. The touch of these items bring body awareness and encourages the brain to think. It can soothe animals in distress through providing a calming touch over the body. Wrapping can also help pop dogs out of patterns if they are "stuck." A young smooth collie was whining during the seminar and Lori provided a thin elastic string that was wrapped around the muzzle and connected behind the head. Within moments the collie had settled down, and once she was relaxed she had no need to vocalize.
In the picture above, Cody is sporting a half wrap. The knot is tied to the side of his spine so no pressure is placed on it. The bandages and elastics are never pulled taut, or even pulled so that they lose their give, yet the elasticity of the wrap allows natural movement. When I wrapped Cody, I dropped opposite ends of the bandages over his shoulders, brought it up under his tummy, and made the tie to the side, making sure that the bandage was relaxed.
Cody checks out the wrap, a little unsure.
Wrapping Cody is still a big deal for him. A wrap is a lot of touch over his body, and I was asking him to let me wrap him in a small classroom full of folks and with other dogs (including the collie) whom he had never met before. He did fantastic with the wrap, and while he did a couple checks he stayed with me and settled into the wrap.
Wraps are left on for 5-15 minutes on average, then removed. Cody spent his several minutes in the wrap, then we took it off and it was time to move onto the third part of TTouch!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Intro to TTouch Workshop

Janell doing some TTouch on Gramercy while he relaxes in Julee's lap.
Sunday several New Rattitude folks converged on Vashon Island to take an Intro to TTouch workshop held by Lori Stevens. Lori does a trilogy of workshops, including TTouch for Seniors and Walking in Balance.

Besides having a great day to hang out with fellow "Tuders, Cody came along as my +1! Cody had to work up to this as I wanted this to be a positive experience and not one where we struggled to stay at the workshop. With that in mind I brought an extra-large soft sided crate, a double-attachment leash, and of course, treats!
Longer lasting 4" beef tracheas, and beef tripe mixed with Ziwi Peak.
Since this was an intro to TTouch, Lori did a broad overview of TTouch and how it helps bring body awareness, center the animal, bring physical and emotional comfort, and how it can help the body remember how to move, thereby assisting animals who are in distress from uneven movement patterns.
Julee brought her special boy, D'Light, and wonderful foster boy Gramercy. Janell and Candace also came to the seminar and helped everyone work with three delightful dogs.
Gramercy listening to Lori in Janell's lap.
Besides a highly informative lecture, Lori made sure we got lots of hands on work. We practiced the TTouchs on ourselves and each other since humans can give more obvious feedback than our often very patient and sometimes subtle pups do. Dandy was the lucky demo dog for Lori to show how she works a dog and her principles of force-free touch, and how she starts slow and lets the dog tell her when to move to more stimulating TTouchs.
Julee looking on with pride at her guy getting attention from Lori.
Dandy is unsure with all these people watching him but loves the touch.

Candace is the "demo person" for double-attachment leashes.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oh Canada

 A packed car!
Friday night Cody had an international adventure. Do you recall sweet old girl Paisley who I transported from Oregon to Olympia, WA?
7-8 year old Paisley
No surprise, she had an interested party soon after landing in Olympia. Her adopted family has two Jacks and recently lost a third. Paisley reminded them of their previous dog, and having a great love of older dogs anyway, they knew Paisley was the right girl for them. Paisley wasn't headed home alone though. Paisley's adopters caught sight of another adorable Jack Russell and adopted her as well.
10-month old Fergie
Fergie's bristly face and spotted body, plus her puppy antics, drew her adopters to her. The family has had Jack puppies before so puppy spazziness is nothing new to them!

The adopters live in Canada, and so as part of a rescue railroad I headed up to Canada after work on Friday night. 

Along the way we saw sweet foster boy Will, and he is looking amazing. He gave me some cuddles, and then it was a quick potty break for all the dogs and back on the road to Canada.

Once we arrived we spent a bit of time at customs, and the adopters came down to the customs station. After everything was cleared, it was time to say goodbye, but not before a family photo!

Of course, this being four Jack Russells, the family photo is more of a family blur with the dogs never looking at the camera at the same time. So here is what I got....
The adopters current Jacks.
Well they are mostly looking in one direction at least.
We're getting less organized, not more!
And this is where I give up.
Happy life Paisley and Fergie!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Balls, Part 2

Throw the ball!
Cody shares the yard with another ball lover, Maya! Usually this involves me throwing seperate balls for each of them. I try and get them in different directions, because Cody will do his best to avoid Maya but Maya doesn't reciprocate - she's a 12 pound Mac Truck! She has flipped Cody over in the air, and poor guy didn't much appreciate it. With rare exceptions they can get along safely and peacefully in the yard without any crashes!
"Can I have that ball, Maya?"
"Ok, I'll get my own then."
Maya catches her ball a little close to Cody.
Cody requests some reassurance.
We take a break to do a little bit of solo play.

All better and ready to go!
Playing by each other again.

Cody finishes with Yoga - Downward Facing Dog of course!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Balls, Part 1

The more comfortable Cody becomes, the more new behaviors he displays. He's played with balls a little big before, but his ball play is becoming more regular and vigorous. Yesterday we had great session with balls!
Warming that body up after getting home.
Politely requesting a ball.
"Are you the right ball for me? "
Tell that ball who is the boss!
"Ok, lets go ball!"
"Good work Ball."
"Let's take a rest. We got more yet to do."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Creating Success at the Dog Park - Part 2

Once we have a strategy in place, we need to consider our goal. Are we going there for exercise, dog socialization, human socialization, playing a game between dog and human, exposure to an interesting environment, practicing recalls, or another reason? Are all of these reasons a good reason for the dog park? How can a dog park help us reach those goals?

Human Socialization
Anyone who has attended a dog park before has seen this. Folks sitting on benches, gabbing on their cell phone. Or gabbing to another human while the dog does its own thing. It's understandable - we enjoy interacting with other people, especially when it involves talking about our dogs. After all - our dogs are well behaved and they have this big dog park - they'll occupy themselves and stay out of trouble, right?
Visiting with each other is great, but we all need to watch our dogs.
Sometimes. We are at the dog park for our dog. We can socialize with other humans, but our first priority is watching our dog. I frequently don't socialize at the dog park because I'm constantly moving and encouraging my dogs to do the same. At special events like the rat terrier meetups I socialize quite a bit, maybe more than I should, but I try my best to pay close attention to my dogs.

Human socialization is not a great goal for the dog park - socialize if you wish but never at the expense of paying full attention to your dog.

Dog Socialization
 Here is a tricky one. All dogs need socialization. Dogs meet other dogs at dog parks. This seem like a no-brainer, right? Sorta. Socialization is about creating positive exposured to stimulus. Positive exposures are based on how the dog feels about the stimulus, not us. Many dogs love visiting new dogs at the dog park, while others can be overwhelmed either from over-excitement or fear.
What are those dogs doing over there?
A dog may like dogs, but be nervous if they come too close, are too loud, too big, too rough, etc. With dog parks we never know what dogs will be there, so we have to scan the park as much as possible and identify any dogs we absolutely want to stay away from. I know of a pair of basenjis at one park that I actively avoid to their rude, pushy nature and clueless owner who spends all his time on a cell phone, for instance.
Nina, Tripp, and Moon socialize.
Any exposure your dog has to other dogs should be positive. Dog parks can be great for socialization - if we control the exposures. We have limited ability to do this at dog parks since all dogs are off leash, and if you are not having positive exposures at the dog park then consider coming at a different time, different day of the week, different weather conditions (bad weather = quiet parks), or even going to a different park or none at all.

One of the best arguments for a dog park! Those of us who have spent years in an apartment know how hard it is to not have a space for off-leash run.
Lets go run!
Consider carefully how you want your dog to exercise. If you expect your dog to play with other dogs at the park, then ensure you are close by to call your dog off and give him a break if the dogs aren't pausing enough on their own. Watch to make sure your dog isn't being bullied or being a bully!
Run pups, run!
If you are bringing a ball or frisbee, be prepared to have other dogs compete with your dogs for the ball. For those of us with little dogs, this may mean a dog many times your dog's size racing for that ball. This creates a risk of collision (which the little dog will lose, hard) or intimidation if the little dog isn't comfortable competing. Consider finding a quiet place without other active dogs playing ball, or save the balls for home.

"Brain Drain"
Quite an interesting smell!

It's hard to say anything bad about activities done to stimulate your dog's brain! Mental exercise is as efficient at tiring a dog out as physical exercise, and the best exercise plans include lots of both over the course of a week!
Maya works brain and body on the dog walk.
The same general caveats apply to this - keep moving to avoid stasis and to continually expose the dog to new scents. Be aware of dog interactions if your dog isn't comfortable with other dogs, be they big dogs, dogs up close, barking dogs, etc.

If I called Cody he wouldn't return. I need to strength his recall.
Now we're talking! This is a great use of a dog park as you can get distance, plus a whole lot of distraction! Just make sure you set your dog up for success - recall just outside the dog park on a long line. If your dog won't recall outside the dog park she won't recall inside the dog park. Work up to it!